The Oscars just got even harder to predict. This year, two groups that usually see eye-to-eye looked straight past each other. On Sunday night, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awarded best film and best director to “Boyhood” and its creator Richard Linklater, while on Saturday the Directors Guild Award went to Alejandro Inarritu for “Birdman.”
In a year when the acting winners are all but written in stone, the best picture and direction nominees are uncharacteristically up in the air. Take a look back at the recent history of the BAFTAs and DGAs, and two things are immediately apparent: These groups almost always find common ground, and their mutual picks almost always predict the Oscars.
Last year, the BAFTA best picture went to “12 Years a Slave,” while the director’s prize went to Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity,” same as the DGA. The Oscars followed suit. The year before, the big winner at both the BAFTAs and DGAs was Ben Affleck and his movie “Argo,” which also went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards. (Affleck was snubbed for a Oscar directing nomination; Ang Lee won for “Life of Pi.”) The year before that, both the BAFTAs and DGAs singled out Michel Hazanavicius and his film “The Artist.” The Oscars for best picture and director that year also went to Hazanavicius and “The Artist.”
This year’s movies, while totally different in tone, are both uniquely conceptual. “Boyhood” was shot over the course of 12 years and “Birdman” was filmed to look like the movie was captured in one long take. Emotionally, though, the movies diverge, with “Boyhood” telling a universal coming-of-age story and “Birdman” residing in more surreal territory with an ending that mystified some movie-goers.
If anything gives “Boyhood” an edge it’s the fact that the two films fell into separate categories at the Golden Globes earlier this year, but only “Boyhood” — up for best dramatic movie — won. “Birdman” lost to “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in the comedy/musical category. And Linklater won the best director Globe, though Inarritu won for best screenplay.
Speaking of the Globes, there was plenty of overlap between acting awards at that show and the BAFTAs. Over the weekend, the best lead acting awards went to Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything” and Julianne Moore for “Still Alice,” while supporting awards went to J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash” and Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood.” All four won Golden Globes, too. Michael Keaton, the “Birdman” lead, has a shot at a best acting Oscar (he also took home a Globe for best lead in a comedy), but otherwise, this list will almost certainly predict the Oscar winners.
But on Feb. 22, will it be “Birdman” or “Boyhood” for best picture? Linklater or Inarritu for direction? Those placing bets might as well just flip a coin.