Image Credit: Merrick Morton; Laurie SparhamSince the beginning of the awards season, I’ve had The King’s Speech at the top of my predictions list to win the Oscar for Best Picture. But even I never thought it would sweep the three major guild awards: Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Screen Actors Guild. Speech‘s pre-Oscar hat trick has certainly relegated the once-invincible Social Network to underdog status. But has it also rendered the last month of the Oscar season completely moot?
In the 16 years since the advent of the SAG best-cast prize, six movies have won all three guilds. Five of those six –– American Beauty, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, No Country For Old Men, and Slumdog Millionaire — went on to take the Best Picture Oscar. There is, however, one movie that swept the guilds but failed to close the deal at the Oscars: Apollo 13. That Braveheart managed to top it on the big night wasn’t a complete shock, since Apollo filmmaker Ron Howard failed to score a Best Director nod from the Academy. But that one film has to be the lone glimmer of hope for everyone involved with Network.
Anyone who follows these things closely knows that this year’s competition is particularly juicy because it pits the two most savvy and larger-than-life Oscar campaigners — studio head Harvey Weinstein and producer Scott Rudin — against each other. The pair famously clashed when they worked together on The Hours and The Reader (Rudin even took his name off The Reader shortly before that film’s release) and now they’re battling each other for the film industry’s biggest prize. When I talked to Rudin on Oscar nominations day — after Speech had won the PGA and scored four more nods than Network — he still seemed confident that his horse would place first at the end of the race. Weinstein, meanwhile, was a bit muted when I congratulated him on Speech‘s DGA win at an EW party on Saturday night. In other words, these guys may not be bosom buddies, but they both know something very important: An Oscar race doesn’t end until the final ballot is submitted.