As for best picture? It’s good news for Fox Searchlight — but it’s also good for the other best-pic contenders, because it’s a reminder of all the plot twists and surprises this year; that trend is likely to continue through the opening of the final envelope on Feb. 22. So “Birdman” gained ground, but the race isn’t over, and supporters of the other films are likely to go into overdrive in the next 10 days.
Richard Linklater and “Boyhood” had seemed the front-runner based on early critics prizes, sweeping up nearly every award in sight. But then “Birdman” scored a one-two punch with wins at the Producers Guild and SAG Awards. On Saturday, some were conjuring up memories of “The King’s Speech,” which rallied after “The Social Network” had seemed the early favorite.
This year could be a repeat of that — or it could be like 2013, when there was genuine suspense between two films (“Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave,” which split the prizes with director and film, respectively).
In several years, there have been clear Oscar favorites. “The Hurt Locker” won almost everything, from PGA and DGA to Broadcast Film Critics and L.A. and New York Critics in its Oscar buildup. This isn’t one of those years.
On the other hand, it could be a “Million Dollar Baby” year. Clint Eastwood’s 2004 film was an also-ran in nearly every critics prize and industry awards, including the Producers Guild, but ended up with four Oscars, including best pic. The reaction at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza indicated a lot of enthusiasm from the industry crowd for Eastwood and “American Sniper,” for example. Is there enough support for it to go all the way? Or could “The Imitation Game,” which has quietly maintained heat since Telluride, suddenly show a burst of support?
“Million Dollar Baby,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “Crash” were all considered possibilities, but far from a sure thing. They were proof that there are so-called Oscar bellwethers, but Academy voters have a mind of their own.
This post was updated to clarify that “The Hurt Locker” did not win the Golden Globe award.