‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ build momentum ahead of tomorrow’s Oscar nominations.

On Saturday night, the Producers Guild of America gave Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water its Best Theatrical Motion Picture award. A few years ago, that might have seemed a good omen for the film. From 2008 through 2015, the PGA awarded what would be the eventual Academy Award winner for Best Picture year after year. In 2016 they threw a wrench into the works as The Big Short took the PGA Award and Spotlight won the Oscar. Last year went similarly, with La La Land winning the PGA Award and Moonlight taking the Oscar.

Generally speaking, the Screen Actors Guild Awards have been more sporadic in their predictability. In the same span of time, the movie honored with the SAG Award for Best Ensemble matched with the Best Picture winner only four times. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s victory Sunday night could be seen as a harbinger of its eventual Oscar domination, or it could end up an odd anomaly, like 2011’s SAG victory for The Help.

Other SAG Award categories have proven more predictive in the past, meaning last night’s wins for Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Allison Janney could already be locks for Academy Awards. SAG-AFTRA makes up a large enough portion of the Academy’s voting membership that the eventual Oscar winners diverge from SAG Award winners infrequently. That being said, supporting category winners find themselves in a slightly weaker position. It wouldn’t be unusual for the Oscars to nominate an actor unrecognized at the SAGs (e.g. Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained) who actually goes on to take the Oscar.

This year’s awards season remains more peculiar than most.

Every year around this time, the awards season punditry seems to trumpet the same message: The Oscars have never been more unpredictable! And every year, a familiar-looking frontrunner emerges and cleans up in February. Last year’s truly shocking Oscar ceremony was a bungled anomaly, but this year is different. A complicated political moment, an unfamiliar Academy, and a crop of incredibly strong contenders are defining 2018 as the year the Oscars got truly wild.

Preliminary awards like the SAGs and the PGAs have done nothing to clear up the confusion. Two weeks ago, the notorious Golden Globes seemed to crown Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri an industry-loved frontrunner, and last night’s ceremony seemed to reinforce that. There’s a long road ahead, however: finalized Oscar ballots aren’t due for another 37 days.

To complicate the matter, Hollywood is looking for a movie that speaks to this moment in time. All the Money in the World got a boost at the Golden Globes thanks to its last-minute Spacey-scrub reshoots. The sequel to the PGA-nominated Wonder Woman will be the first movie to conform to the PGA’s newly set anti-sexual harassment guidelines. The Shape of Water is subtitled A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times, possibly the perfect summation of the kind of filmmaking our political moment has fomented. In a year so defined by political upheaval, the race for Best Picture may end up defined by a battle between issues, whether it’s Three Billboards‘ fiery indictment of sexual assault or Get Out‘s horror-movie take on casual racism.

With the Winter Olympics forcing a more drawn-out timeline than usual, Tuesday’s nominations should shore up narratives and possibly create new ones — it’s not inconceivable that a backlash a la Argo could emerge if Greta Gerwig is denied a Best Director nomination. Moving towards more classically predictive ceremonies like the Directors Guild awards, this season’s ultimate conclusion should start to take form.

Producers Guild of America Award Winners

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: The Shape of Water (Producers: Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: Coco (Producer: Darla K. Anderson)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Pictures: Jane (Producers: Brett Morgen, Bryan Burk, Tony Gerber, and James Smith)

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama: The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 1) (Producers: Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Ilene Chaiken, Sheila Hockin, Eric Tuchman, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Joseph Boccia, Elisabeth Moss, Kira Snyder, and Leila Gerstein)

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 1) (Producers: Daniel Palladino, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Sheila Lawrence, and Dhana Rivera Gilbert)

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television: Black Mirror (Season 4) (Producers: Annabel Jones, and Charlie Brooker)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television: Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (Season 1, Season 2) (Producers: Leah Remini, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Myles Reiff, Adam Saltzberg, Erin Gamble, Lisa Rosen, Grainne Byrne, Taylor Levin, Alex Weresow, and Rachelle Mendez)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Season 4) (Producers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, and Liz Stanton)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television: The Voice (Season 12, Season 13) (Producers: John de Mol, Mark Burnett, Audrey Morrissey, Lee Metzger, Chad Hines, Amanda Zucker, Kyra Thompson, Jay Bienstock, Stijn Bakkers, Mike Yurchuk, Teddy Valenti, and Carson Daly)

The Award for Outstanding Short-Form Program: Carpool Karaoke (Season 1), Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (Season 23), Sesame Street (Season 47)

Screen Actors Guild Award Winners

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: This Is Us

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series: Claire Foy, The Crown

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Veep

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: William H. Macy, Shameless

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series: Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series: Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series: Game of Thrones

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: Wonder Woman

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