There can be no doubt the champagne corks are popping at Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Whale indie distributor A24 tonight. Not only did it see a record-setting performance at the SAG Awards, where it won all five of the movie categories (other than the non-televised stunt ensemble), but also Saturday night, where it took the top Best Picture award at the Producers Guild. Both often are Oscar-prescient guild awards shows that last year, and in many others, have foretold just exactly what would happen at the Academy Awards — not always but often.
With just two weeks to go before Oscar Sunday, and with final voting beginning Thursday, things are only going to get better for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which so far also has taken the very telling DGA top prize last weekend, as well as the often predictive Critics Choice Awards, where it won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and two others. Next weekend it is heavily favored to win Original Screenplay at the WGA Awards and also is favored to reign over the Independent Spirit Awards as well.
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Statistically this is daunting information for any other film hoping to compete and upset this now-unquestioned Oscar front-runner. Since they started giving out PGA, DGA, SAG, and WGA Awards collectively, no film has swept all four major guilds and gone on to lose the Best Picture Oscar. Throw in Everything Everywhere’s Critics Choice triumph, and anticipated Spirits win — only a prediction on WGA and Spirits at this point — and you have a juggernaut in an unprecedented position to triumph on Oscar night.
This topsy-turvy season might have some more historic surprises in store, and maybe yet another almost Hitchcockian twist. That is all due to the emergence at BAFTA (another industry bellwether that shares at least 500 voters in common with Oscar) last weekend by Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front, which took seven awards there to lead all, virtually shutting out Everything Everywhere All at Once (which only won Film Editing) and throwing a wrench into all this for pundits. That’s because, weirdly, it isn’t competing in any of the aforementioned guild contests (it is ineligible at WGA), which means the next and only head-to-head in industry circles won’t come until, wait for it, the Oscars, where it is nominated for nine awards including Best Picture, Screenplay, International Film and more. And even on that night, the two films aren’t competing directly against each other in any of the 23 categories except in Original Music Score and, uh, Best Picture, so it could turn out to be a seesaw battle all the way to the opening of the final envelope in a year quite unlike any other. Don’t completely discount early favorites The Fabelmans or Top Gun: Maverick, but their PGA loss in a guild that uses the same counting method as the Oscars is troubling for their chances. At this point, they would be considered upsets as all-important momentum has shifted.
But BAFTA’s recent track record of matching Oscar’s Best Picture winners is miserable, with only one film — Nomadland in the Covid-disrupted 2020 race — matching in the past eight years. That is a good sign for Everything Everywhere, but as I said last week, I just get a strong vibe from Academy voters I have talked to over the course of the past few months, and All Quiet on the Western Front is almost universally admired. That means it should do very well with the Academy’s weighted Best Picture voting system, where you have to list your favorites in order from 1 to 10, 10 being least favorite. The World War I pic also has been building gravitas with frequent comparisons to its timeliness with what is going on in Ukraine.
Everything Everywhere has passionate supporters no doubt, but it also has those — especially among the older membership — who just don’t get it. Perhaps they should take 94-year-old Everything Everywhere All at Once actor James Hong’s amusing advice in his Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture acceptance speech at SAG: “You probably should see it two or three more times to understand what it is all about.”
So all of this just means, as the showbiz adage says, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” No Brendan Fraser joke to be inserted here, folks.
And speaking of The Whale’s Fraser, his SAG win keeps the truly rollercoaster Best Actor race on course for a collision. It looks like it could be anyone’s to grab at this moment, at least among three favored contenders: Fraser, who has now won Critics Choice and SAG; Austin Butler, who took Golden Globe (Drama) and BAFTA, and The Banshees of Inisherin’s Colin Farrell, who took Venice and Golden Globe (comedy/musical) along with several critics group’s awards. It once again is wide open, but Fraser’s SAG win really gives him some key momentum here. A complete three-way split might mean even Living’s Bill Nighy could pull off an upset for the ages. Look, anything is possible here at this juncture, except for Aftersun’s Paul Mescal.
All season long, from the moment Tár premiered in Venice, Cate Blanchett has been on a tear, winning nearly everything for her tour de force performance. But the smooth ride to Oscar just got a little bumpy in the Best Actress race because of beloved Michelle Yeoh’s triumph at SAG. Both had won at the Globes, with Blanchett in Drama and Yeoh in Comedy/Musical. It makes what seemed a sure thing for the great Cate to ride to a win on Oscar Night (which would be her third) just a little more suspenseful. But you still have to put her in front-runner position. There is a lot of support for Tár among Oscar voters to whom I speak.
As for the supporting races, well, SAG threw another wrench in there with the popular victory of Jamie Lee Curtis and her emotional and engaging acceptance speech at SAG for Everything Everywhere All at Once. It was unexpected due to punditry wisdom (?) that Angela Bassett, another popular Hollywood veteran, was coasting to her first Oscar win for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Coming off a weekend where she dominated the NAACP Image Awards, and being the Golden Globe and Critics Choice winner, she seemed to be on the glide path. But now this is two weeks in a row she has been upset, and the bad news for Bassett’s chances is that both were the first two tests of strength among her peers — at BAFTA, where she lost to fellow Oscar nominee Kerry Condon of Banshees, and now at SAG. I am beginning to wonder if all the publicity about her potentially being the first actor to win an Oscar for a Marvel movie is becoming a negative. Maybe there is a reason no one has ever won for a Marvel movie? Like it did with Lead Actor and Lead Actress, SAG also has thrown Supporting Actress into uncertainty.
It seems to me Best Supporting Actor, which went to Everything Everywhere’s irresistible Ke Huy Quan at SAG and just about everywhere else except BAFTA, where Barry Keoghan pulled off a surprise hometown win for Banshees, is once again as close to a lock you can find in the Oscar acting races. He will win.
Oscar season just got a little more exciting this weekend, and a little more unpredictable in many ways.
As I keep saying: to be continued.
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