The Oscar Best Picture race was blown wide open last night as Adam McKay’s financial comedy The Big Short beat out heavy favourites Spotlight, The Revenant, and Mad Max: Fury Road, to take home the main prize at the PGA Awards, an award that often signifies victory in the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Since the nominees at both the Oscars and PGA were increased to 10 back in 2009, the winner of the PGA has replicated its victory at the Oscars, with Gravity the only one to lose out in 2013, as it tied at PGA with eventual Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. This is very good news for The Big Short, which has performed very well throughout the nomination stage, picking up Best Picture nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, and BAFTA, as well as major nominations at SAG, DGA, WGA, and ACE Eddie. Could this signify a change in the trajectory of the Best Picture, the same way that Birdman did with victory here last year?
The Big Short is actually in very similar territory as Birdman. It’s coming off a defeat at the Golden Globes in the weaker Comedy or Musical category (The Martian beat The Big Short, while The Grand Budapest Hotel beat Birdman), but is still managing to get recognition from all the places it needs, making it a late bloomer to get ahead of the long time frontrunner, Spotlight, a film that is in a similar position to last year’s indie hit, Boyhood. Can The Big Short actually win Best Picture at the Oscars? Absolutely. It has been seen by many as a bit too polarizing, and not many would say that it is the best film of the nominees, but so many films have won without being the best. What it has in its favour is that it is prestigious, it has an all star cast, including Christian Bale who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and it has two of the three major elements you need to win Best Picture: it is about a historical tragedy, and it is about people that are battling against the odds. If it were about Hollywood, it’ll be all wrapped up. In the position it’s currently in, it has to be the frontrunner to win, and if it beats Spotlight to win SAG Ensemble, it will be in a comfortable position in first.
As for the other film categories, Inside Out and Amy both pretty much secured their winning positions in their respective categories. Pixar’s Inside Out beat out its closest competitor at the Oscars, Anomalisa, as well as three films that missed out on Oscar nominations, The Good Dinosaur, Minions, and The Peanuts Movie, to take home Best Animated Feature, while Amy beat out tough competition from the Oscar-nominated The Look of Silence, as well as the snubbed The Hunting Ground, Meru, and Something Better to Come to win Best Documentary Feature. I suggest putting all your money on these two repeating their victories at the Oscars.
Over on the television side, Game of Thrones made a big step in defending their Emmy crown by winning Best Episodic Drama for Season 5 of the series, the season that won them their first Primetime Emmy Award for Best Drama Series last September. If they can also take home the DGA, WGA, and SAG Ensemble Award, which it is the favourite to do so, it looks the show will be unstoppable at this year’s Emmys, no matter how good Season 6 is. Over on the comedy side, there was a massive victory for Amazon’s Transparent, as it beat the show that pipped it to win the Emmy last year, Veep, to win Best Episodic Comedy for its debut season. It was a much needed victory for the show, and with its second season already available for streaming on Amazon Prime, it definitely has an advantage over Veep, which doesn’t air its new season on HBO until April. Veep really needs victory in Ensemble at SAG to retain its Emmy title, but even if it doesn’t, and releases a killer season, it will likely win for the second year running.
In the other categories, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver put itself in a strong position to take The Daily Show‘s Emmy crown by winning here, and, given the TV Academy’s love for HBO, I can definitely see it taking it. FX’s Fargo was the victor in a comparatively weak line-up as it looks to take back its Emmy for Best Limited Series after its one-year gap, meaning that Olive Kitteridge could take home top prize. The Jinx was the easy winner in the non-fiction category, and The Voice surprisingly beat The Amazing Race to take home Reality competition. There was also victory for Sesame Street, Real Sports, and Jerry Seinfeld’s brilliant webseries Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (if you haven’t seen the episode with Barack Obama, I suggest you check it out).
Overall, PGA gave some major clues on who is going to win at the Oscars, and at the Emmys, but it’s The Big Short that succeeded the most. Its Best Picture has moved it from potential shocker to one of the firm favourites, and, I for one, am predicting it to go all the way.