Monday, February 19, 2007

The falliable link between the SAG Awards and the Oscars

Oscar pundits are always trying to fit square pegs into round holes. One annoying habit they have is trying to take every award ceremony that comes along and use it for some kind of barometer for their predictions of the oscars from which they continually change those predictions with each new incoming set of results. The Oscars are treated like one of these trivia games were clues are slowly being given so that in time you will be able to make deductions and figure out the answers. Entertainment Weekly devotes three full issues exclusively to the Oscars each year (up from two five years ago), message boards swarm with people posting predictions and countless blogs and websites have surfaced that follow the phenemonen. Even the Toronto Star and the LA Times have put up exclusive websites to monitor awards buzz. In all this excitement, it might be lost that not every awards ceremony is a precursor to the Oscars and might not necessarily alter the results of the Oscars.

Take the SAG Awards. One publication noted that Little Miss Sunshine might win an Oscar because it won the SAG ensemble award, which is the "closest thing the SAGs have to a best picture award." Language like "the closest thing there is to _____" is indicative of how much people are trying to stretch things to fit in with the oscar buzz phenomenon. President Bush's line about how sunny skies lie ahead this year can be said to be the closest thing in his State of the Union address to an endorsement for Little Miss Sunshine for best picture, but so what?

The fact of the matter is that by their very definition, the SAG Awards have no award that serves as a vote for best picture and I wish people would stop treating it as such. A best ensemble award and a best movie award are too entirely different things. I personally was severely disappointed by the film Capote and consider it my least favorite Best Picture Oscar Nominee in years. At the same time, I liked the performances of Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper, and Clifton Collins Jr. enough to feel like it would be a very deserving best ensemble nominee. I would similarly feel that Batman Begins had the best ensemble of the year last year, but by no means, the best picture of the year or anywhere in the top five. Even great individual acting performances don't necessarily translate to a best ensemble award in my opinion. Morgan Freeman and Hillary Swank might have been great in Million Dollar Baby, but can they top the chemistry shared between the quartet of character actors in Sideways?

Any connection between SAG ensemble wins and best picture wins surely must be coincidence and statistically insignificant (scientifically speaking, all Oscar buzz precursors are statistically insignificant since the sample size is 78 at best). Last year, I noticed that in a crowded and somewhat deadlocked field, momentum shifted significantly toward Crash and Capote once they got nominated for SAG awards and once Crash won the SAG, momentum shifted toward Crash for the win. There might even be more dangerous consequences of this if one affects the other. If there's the question of life imitating art vs art imitating life than there could very well be the question of oscar buzz imitating results vs results imitating Oscar buzz. Whether that's the case or not, it would be helpful if pundits would stop making connections that aren't there, like with the SAG awards.

5 comments:

jayiijay said...

Nice article - the SAG is most definitely not a Best Picture prize, even SAG says so. However, you state one major inaccuracy: the field was NOT deadlocked before or after the SAGS. Brokeback Mountain was the overwhelming favorite, having won more Picture/Director prizes than any other film ever, and in a league shared only by Schindler's List in terms of pre-Oscars dominance. If you view the 3/9/07 Daily Variety, it lists the 29 or 30 Best Picture prizes won by Brokeback, which is unprecedented. Brokeback is now the only film to have won the Directors Producers and Writers Guilds but not the Oscar; the Globe, most nominations and DGA but not the Oscar; the Los Angeles and New York Film Crix Awards with the most nominations but not the Oscar. The permutations and combinations go on and on. Not to mention Brokeback's dominance in England with the BAFTA and virtually all other awards there; the Venice Film Festival; the Golden Satellite; Box Office mojo #1 box office success story of 2005; and that it was a cultural phenomenon. The latter was also its downfall, as the conservative Academy saw that it became the butt of late night jokes, and that ultra-conservatives were banning the film and otherwise becoming hateful, sending anti-Brokeback petitions to the Academy, etc. Senior Academy members like Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine vocally, publically stated that they nor any of their Academy friends would even watch Brokeback because "John Wayne would roll over in his grave". I remain shocked there was so little outcry, but I suppose since gays were the targets, people let it go. It is a disgrace on the Academy, I will no longer watch, and neither will "any of my friends" because Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Abraham Lincoln would roll over in their graves. Thanks, Jay

OKonheim said...

Exactly, where did you come form, Jay, (in terms of how did you find your way to my site)?

I am not debating the Crash vs Brokeback Mountain upset. I was talking about the slating of the 5 nominees when Crash and Capote made it in through a crowded field. Most people were saying back then that Brokeback Mountain and Good Night and Good Luck were both locks and there was a wide field including Syrianna, Match Point, Constant Gardener, Cinderella Man, History of violence and New World. To me, it was the widest field, I'd ever seen

Edward Copeland said...

Not only does the SAG ensemble award not equal a best picture award, more times than not since SAG created its awards, the ensemble winner hasn't won best picture at the Oscars. I think people are desperate for tealeaves this year because for the first time I can remember, best picture is the race that seems as if any of the five films could win, so they'll hang their prediction on anything. It's sort of fun that for a change the suspense may actually last until the end of the awards broadcast.

Crazy Professor said...

.

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and a time to mend. A time
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and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

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Case for Christianity, by C.S. Lewis



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- - - Two central requirements in Yale
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comes to the issue of salvation.
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the US Supreme Court, William Rehnquist

In 1796 the US Supreme Court issued this
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Christian religion is the established religion,
and all sects and denominations of Christians
are placed on equal footing." Some 57 years
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Christian principles from government, in 1853
the House Judiciary Committee issued their
formal report, including these words: "In this
age there is no substitute for Christianity.
This was the religion of the founders of the
republic, and they expected it to be the
religion of their dependents. The great vital,
conservative elements in our system is the
belief of our people in the pure doctrines
and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus
Christ." - - - Dr. Gerald Beavan


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to own their dependence upon the overruling
power of God and to recognize the sublime
truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and
proven by all history, that those nations only
are blessed whose God is the Lord."
-- President Abraham Lincoln


Trust in yourself and you are doomed to
disappointment; trust in money and you
may have it taken from you; but trust in
God, and you are never to be confounded
in time or eternity. - D.L. Moody

Faith and love are apt to be spasmodic
in the best of minds. Men and women live
on the brink of mysteries and harmonies
into which they never enter and with their
hand on the door latch they die outside.
- - GK Chesterton

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Whoami

P.S. Here's some blogs that I found
of interest
as I negotiated my way
through cyberspace:


Every Student
Religion Comparison
Around the Well
Danish Cartoons
Arabic Cartoons
Muhammad or Jesus???
Answering Islam
Is Jesus God?
A Short Look At Six World Religions
God's Word in different languages...
How to become a Christian
Who Is Jesus?
See The Word
Watch The Jesus Movie
Spanish Cartoons
German Cartoons
Chinese Cartoons
Italian Cartoons
Greek Cartoons
Japanese Cartoons
Portuguese Cartoons
French Cartoons
Hindi Cartoons
Russian Cartoons
'Thought & Humor'


Only one of these is amalgamated with me -
can you determine which one??? Tell me
sometime what your thoughts are about
all this:O)

Anonymous said...

Yikes! When does the cleaning crew sweep through these comments?

The main reason anyone connects SAG and the Oscars is that the Academy membership is overwhelmingly made up of the Actors branch. It is for this reason alone that bloggers attempt to read the tea leaves of what the SAG membership is leaning towards. I think there's a link between former actors who become directors, like Clint Eastwood, getting Best Directing nominations and wins.