Academy Awards tea-leaf readers have some surprising new data to factor into their predictions, based on the unexpected results of this weekend’s pre-Oscar awards ceremonies. On Sunday night, the Producers Guild of America bucked the conventional wisdom that the race for Best Picture is between ”A Beautiful Mind” and ”The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and instead named ”Moulin Rouge” movie of the year. On Saturday, the Writers Guild of America gave Best Adapted Screenplay to ”A Beautiful Mind” (which may be a repeat at the Oscars) and Best Original Screenplay to ”Gosford Park” (which may not).
The PGA Awards, given on March 3 at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles, have a record of 75 percent accuracy during the last 12 years when it comes to predicting the eventual Oscar winner. However, as EW’s Mark Harris notes, ”’Moulin Rouge’ is still an Academy long shot. No film that has failed to win a directing or writing nomination has won Best Picture since ‘Grand Hotel’ in 1932.” According to Harris, any added support that ”Rouge” earns now is likely to make it a spoiler that helps ”Mind”: ”’Rouge’ and ‘Rings’ are both elaborate, design-heavy movies in a way that ‘A Beautiful Mind’ isn’t. People who vote for ‘Moulin Rouge’ are more likely to siphon votes from ‘Lord of the Rings.”’
The Writers Guild Awards, handed out in a dual ceremony on March 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills and at The Pierre Hotel in New York, have a track record of predicting 60 percent of Oscar winners during the last five years. This time, however, two of the most hotly favored screenplays, for ”Memento” and ”In the Bedroom,” were ruled ineligible because their low-budget productions weren’t Guild signatories. ”It just wasn’t a fair race,” Harris says of the WGA competition. ”Their own eligibility rules made them irrelevant.”