Oscar Races for Direction, Acting take shape after Guild Awards this weekend

On a weekend when the Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild made their award selections, it was The Artist and The Help that had the biggest of nights.

And George Clooney may be on the outside looking in, yet again, when Oscar Sunday rolls around.

In a stunning upset, actor Jean Dujardin, star of awards darling The Artist, took home the SAG Award for Best Actor, putting the Oscar’s Best Actor race in limbo. It was previously thought that Clooney was the shoo-in after wins from nearly every critics circle as well as a Critics Choice Award for his leading role in The Descendants. But Dujardin began picking up steam after a win in the Best Actor – Comedy/Musical category at the Golden Globes, where Clooney won for Best Actor – Drama.

In a year in which it appeared that Clooney may finally win the Best Actor Oscar after earning his third nomination in the category, the little-known Dujardin has thrown a wrench into things. With a Dujardin win at the SAGs, it’s now Dujardin and Clooney, neck-and-neck, in the Best Actor race. We now turn to the BAFTA Awards in this race to see who is really the leader.

Christopher Plummer won the SAG Award for Supporting Actor on Sunday night

Christopher Plummer and the cast of The Help were also big winners over the weekend, as Plummer took home the prize for Best Supporting Actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The Help was by far the biggest winner at the SAGs, with stars Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer winning their respective categories (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress) and the entire cast winning the award for Best Film Ensemble, as expected.

Davis edged out two strong candidates in Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) to win the award, while Spencer’s biggest competition seems to have been from The Artist‘s Berenice Bejo, who could be a potential upset pick at the Academy Awards given the widespread love being thrown on The Artist.

In other awards circuit news, the Directors Guild made their awards announcements on Saturday, and it appears that Michel Hazanavicius is officially the front-runner to take home the Academy Award for Best Director, after winning the same award from the Directors Guild. And it looks like The Artist has inched even further ahead in the Best Picture race.

Jean Dujardin won Best Actor at the SAGs, while director Michel Hazanavicius was awarded top honors from the Directors Guild

Hazanavicius’s win makes The Artist the bona fide favorite come February 26th, as the Directors Guild winner for Best Director generally ends up being the Oscar winner for Best Director, and that director’s film, in turn, often wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In the last 10 years, only once has the winner of the DGA award not gone on to win Best Director at the Academy Awards: Rob Marshall took home the DGA award in 2003 for Chicago, while Roman Polanski won Best Director for The Pianist at the Oscars. Chicago also won Best Picture that year.

The only other deviation in the pattern was in 2006, when Brokeback Mountain‘s Ang Lee won at both the DGA Awards and the Oscars for Best Director, but Crash won the ultimate prize, stunning everyone by picking up the Oscar for Best Picture.

However, if ever there were a year for a split, it could be this year: in what many have called a weak year for movies, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if, say, Martin Scorsese won Best Director at the Oscars but The Artist went on to win Best Picture. I don’t see that as being terribly likely though. Look for The Artist to take home some big hardware at the Academy Awards.

'The Help' won big at the SAGs, setting Davis and Spencer up for wins at the Academy Awards

As for the acting categories, the SAG Awards served to essentially settle the Oscar races in almost every category. With Spencer’s and Plummer’s wins at the SAGs, it’s looking more and more like those two will win their respective categories, Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor, at the Academy Awards. Viola Davis looks to be the front-runner for Best Actress as well, with Streep being her primary competition.

The only real acting race left to decide is that between Dujardin and Clooney, as the SAGs did nothing but create mayhem in the Best Actor Oscar race. However, the last 7 men to win Best Actor at the SAG Awards have gone on to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Take that for what it’s worth.



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