Uproxx’s Awards Forecast offers a weekly look at the front-runners in several key Academy Award races, based on pundit chatter and pre-Oscar awards. (The pundit analysis is based on opinions put forward by major Oscar-tracking outlets, including Vulture, the expert panel at Gold Derby, Indiewire, Awards Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Awards Circuit. Pre-Oscar awards consider recent winners announced by industry and critic organizations that annually recognize achievement in film.)
The week’s most important Oscar season development: The Revenant‘s Alejandro González Iñárritu was awarded Best Director by the Directors Guild of America, an honor that usually points toward an Oscar win in the same category. Iñárritu’s second DGA victory in a row, following last year’s for Birdman, makes him the first filmmaker to win the DGA two years in a row. A second-consecutive Academy Award for Best Director will mark the first back-to-back statuettes in that category in 65 years.
Assuming Iñárritu stands the best chance of winning Best Director, does that make The Revenant the new front-runner in the maddening — from a forecasting standpoint — Best Picture race? Not necessarily, because all the major guild awards are split this year. SAG’s best ensemble prize went to Spotlight, while the Producers Guild awarded its best picture equivalent to The Big Short. Because the PGA is usually a more reliable indicator of what will win on Oscar night, especially in the modern era of the preferential ballot voting system, most pundits are cautiously pointing their predictive fingers at The Big Short. As for the acting categories: Nothing has changed here and nothing probably will before February 28.
The Writers Guild of America’s awards will be held this Saturday, which may or may not reveal something important about the screenplay races. Until then, most pundits are sticking with Spotlight and The Big Short there. No significant prognostication shifts in any of the other above races either. Son of Saul, Inside Out, and “Til It Happens to You” are still expected to win in Best Animated Feature, Foreign Language film and Original Song, respectively. The DGA gave its documentary award to Cartel Land, but the guild’s award in that category is hit or miss as a predictor of the Best Documentary Oscar, and most experts are still expecting Amy to prevail.