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Oscars' best-picture derby: Down to 6 ponies?

January 16, 2008 |  8:38 am

It's starting to look as if Oscar's best picture race has whittled down to six films. The five flicks nominated yesterday by the Producers Guild of America also happen to be the ones that have the most guild bids over all, as Kris Tapley points out at his updated Pga_dga_pq_3 roundup at his Red Carpet blog at Variety.com: "No Country for Old Men" (8), "There Will Be Blood" (7), "Michael Clayton" (6), "Diving Bell and the Butterly" (5) and "Juno" (4).

"Juno" wasn't nominated by the most trusty indicator, the directors guild, which has correctly forecasted the best-pic lineup 24 times out of its past 25 nominations. Its fifth honoree this year was "Into the Wild," which was shunned by PGA. All other four films reaped bids from both guilds.

Last year "Dreamgirls" got nommed by both DGA and PGA, but got bumped by "Letters from Iwo Jima" at the Oscars. In 2005, DGA lined up with Oscar's best-pic nominees, but PGA opted for "Walk the Line" over "Munich." Sometimes PGA takes sharp left turns like "The Incredibles" and "The Last Samurai" in recent years, and, in addition to "Dreamgirls," there's at least one more case in recent years where both guilds opted for one film that got snubbed by Oscar voters. That's what happened to "Almost Famous" in 2000. Instead, academy voters had a taste for "Chocolat," which was snubbed by both DGA and PGA. At least "Chocolat" got a WGA bid. Best-pic nominees "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006), "In the Bedroom" (2001) and "Elizabeth" (1998) were shut out by all three guilds.

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But now it looks like the odds heavily favor the above-named 6 for the top 5 Oscar slots and responsible Oscarologists must acknowledge that.

Later today, when The Envelope's new Buzzmeter predix are posted, you will not spot "Sweeney Todd" in any of my top five notches for best pic. Just in acting for Johnny Depp.

R.I.P, dear Sweeney. Put your razor away. You reaped your revenge on screen and history will hail Tim Burton's genius in future years, as many film critics ("Something close to a masterpiece," decreed the New York Times) and filmgoers appreciate it now ($41 million so far — $2 million more than "Michael Clayton"). Who knew that the cutthroat Hollywood crowd would turn away so squeamishly from a little cartoonish blood when they spill so much more of the real stuff down studio halls every day? You will have ultimate revenge again, my friend.

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Just not at the Oscars and you are in good company. Other materworks snubbed for best picture: "The African Queen," "East of Eden," "Psycho," "Some Like It Hot," "A Star Is Born," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Oh, yes, and "Dreamgirls."


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