The gap is closing between best picture contenders “The Power of the Dog” and “CODA.”
In a year when many voters saw their movies on TV and not in theaters, Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” topped predictive Oscar harbingers: the Directors Guild, the BAFTAs and the Critics’ Choice Awards. But Jane Campion’s twisty ’20s western didn’t take them all.
Apple’s “CODA” has now won two powerful guild awards that could portend how members of the Oscars will vote: movie actors and producers. Like “Parasite” in 2020, the SAG Ensemble award for “CODA” signaled widespread support for a low-budget indie, which broke out big at digital Sundance 2021 and garnered interest from several buyers before AppleTV+ clears the table with a $25 million buy.
With this decisive victory, “CODA” is now in a position to win its three possible Oscars: Troy Kotsur in the role of supporting actor, Sian Heder for the adapted screenplay (which will probably win the WGA on Sunday) and the best picture.
“CODA” winning the top PGA Film Award – which shows how a movie can climb the ranks with a preferential vote – gives the heartfelt family drama a serious boost just as Oscar voters fill in their ballots (which must be filed on Tuesday).
That doesn’t guarantee a Best Picture Oscar win. Most often, the two rewards match. But in recent years, ‘The Big Short’, ‘La La Land’ and ‘1917’ have won the PGA but not the best Oscar, while Oscar winners ‘Spotlight’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Parasite’ have not won. not scored the best nods in the PGA.
“CODA” is popular, and its story about a deaf New England family’s resilience under duress resonates with mainstream voters. This is the key. Both SAG and PGA are more mainstream Oscar voters, who have picked up nominations this year, including Guillermo del Toro’s hard-dark noir “Nightmare Alley” and three-hour Japanese Oscar entry “Drive My Car.” ” among the top 10. (The PGA went with “Being the Ricardos and “Tick, Tick, Boom.”)
Along with writers and actors, the most common branches of the Academy most likely to vote for “CODA” are executives, producers and publicists. And some of those voters are among those who don’t necessarily want disruptive streamer Netflix to win Best Picture. “CODA” is the alternative to “The Power of the Dog”, like “Green Book” was to “Roma”.
Support for New Zealand’s “The Power of the Dog,” which garnered 12 Oscar nominations, comes from sophisticated international voters — and craft voters who see Netflix as an employer, not an existential threat. “Dune” (Warner Bros./HBO Max) could pick up five or six tech awards on March 27.
What “CODA” isn’t eligible to win is Best Editing, for which the Best Picture winner is almost always nominated. What will ‘The Power of the Dog’ win on Oscar night? Most likely, image, director and cinematography for rising star Ari Wegner, who would be the first woman to win this honor.
Confusing the issue is Campion’s gaffe comparing herself to tennis stars the Williams sisters at the Critics Choice Awards last Sunday, which didn’t go unnoticed by the film industry. It is difficult to assess the impact this might have on voters. But while the race between “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog” is tight, every vote counts. After a lengthy ceremony featuring career awards for 90-year-old “West Side Story” executive producer Rita Moreno and Lucasfilm giants George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy (introduced by Oscar nominee Steven Spielberg), a Oscars campaigner texted: “He’s a nail biter.”
Searchlight’s 1969 concert film “Summer of Soul,” which won Best Documentary, and Disney’s Best Animated Film “Encanto,” featuring a drum set of hit songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.