‘Birdman’? ‘Boyhood’? SAG Awards to offer Oscar preview

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Birdman’? ‘Boyhood’? SAG Awards to offer Oscar preview.

The 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards should offer a low-key preview to the Academy Awards and a chance for favorites to begin polishing up their acceptance speeches. The Golden Globe Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards and Hollywood Film Awards, like the many other awards ceremonies that took place this season prior to Saturday night, were fine and dandy, but their winners were chosen by foreign journalists, film critics and an unnamed committee, respectively.

As in past years, the SAG Awards – presented by SAG-AFTRA and produced by Avalon Harbor Entertainment – will take place at the Shrine Exposition Center on Sunday, Jan. 25 and simulcast live on TNT and TBS. The telecommunications giant will let viewers with digital access see a 360-degree view of red-carpet activity Sunday night as part of a new sponsorship of the cable outlet’s coverage of the event, said Dan Riess, executive vice president of integrated marketing and branded content for Turner, the Time Warner unit that operates the network. In a statement released Jan. 21, it was revealed that this year’s star-studded ceremony will be produced on a larger scale, with over 700 crew members on deck to prepare for the event. The network will run messages with AT&T’s backing of the project made clear that suggest viewers go to the web or a mobile device to see a broader vista. The Shrine auditorium entrance will feature 17,000 square feet of red carpet, which will all be guarded by 21,500 square feet of tenting for weather protection.

With their celebrity rosters and impromptu moments, awards programs are proving useful for luring marketers who want to combine traditional media with social and digital. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures to Birdman, not Boyhood, which had previously won just about everything for which it was eligible. Samsung managed to turn last year’s Oscars into a powerful commercial by paying its media-buying firm, Starcom MediaVest, to get its phones into host Ellen DeGeneres’ hands, where she used to take an on-camera “selfie” with A-list attendees.

Last year, the top four winners — Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o, Jared Leto — all went on to win Academy Awards after first scooping up SAG awards. The Golden Globes — because of their larger pool of nominees, an earlier date before consensuses on who’s likely to win an Oscar have formed, and a general idiosyncratic streak — tend to go out on a wild limb from time to time. Viacom’s MTV laced segments from its “House of Style” fashion program into its 2014 “Video Music Awards” broadcast that included nods to sponsor Unilever.

But the question that can’t be answered until the 87th Oscars on Feb. 22 is whether or not this year’s PGA Award for Birdman was a “false-positive.” In recent years, it hasn’t been: Avatar (2009) and The Social Network (2010) both swept the major awards that preceded the guild announcements, but then the guilds, starting with the PGA, endorsed The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech, respectively, and the Academy followed their lead. Modern Family likewise leads in the television categories with four nominations, including noms for best comedy series ensemble and best actor in a comedy series. For the evening’s most coveted category, performance by a cast, the ensembles of “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” are in the running. AT&T has sponsored similar opportunities for Turner networks in the recent past, making the 360-degree camera views available to viewers of “Conan” on TBS when host Conan O’Brien took the show to Dallas for a few broadcasts. The Times’ Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp predicts the actors in director Robert Linklater’s coming-of-age tale, “Boyhood,” will prevail.

This means that actors who were nominated for SAG Awards but not Oscars — among them Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler, Jennifer Aniston for Cake, and Naomi Watts for St. Presenters include Patricia Arquette, Rashida Jones, Julia Roberts, Emma Stone,Lorelei Linklater, Kevin Costner, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Michael Keaton, Matthew McConaughey, Matt McGorry, Edward Norton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, J.K.

Producers surely connected, as much as anyone except perhaps actors, with a film that centers around a has-been movie star who decides to try to put together his own theater project after other opportunities dry up, introducing him to the challenges and frustrations of life as a producer. Throughout Sunday evening’s ceremony, The Hollywood Reporter will provide coverage of all of the action happening inside the Shrine, including red carpet photos (presented by THR’s style site Pret-a-Reporter), expert analysis of the wins and much more. Might Boyhood — for which the PGA recognized Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland as producers, but, like the Academy, not Jonathan Sehring and John Sloss — have been a bit more outside the PGA’s wheelhouse than it was for other groups’?

PGA members surely admired the “tenacity” — the theme word heard at Saturday’s ceremony — of the film’s producers, who made the film over the course of 12 years. But the PGA has also tended, with only a few exceptions, to reward films with bigger production budgets and higher domestic grosses than Boyhood, which cost $2.4 million and grossed $24 million. (Birdman’s budget and gross certainly aren’t huge — $18 million and $29 million, respectively — but they’re a bit bigger than Boyhood’s, if not those of American Sniper and Gone Girl, two of the other PGA nominees.) Sunday night’s SAG Awards will now be particularly interesting to watch, since Birdman and Boyhood will go head-to-head again for the top prize of the night, best ensemble. It’s puzzling, Sharkey writes, only because the interplay between professor and prodigy in Damien Chazelle’s intense drama “Whiplash” and the physical contact in Bennett Miller’s eerie biopic “Foxcatcher,” among others, defined the true meaning of a cast. The bottom line is this: if Boyhood had won the PGA Award, most people would be declaring the best picture Oscar race over; the fact that Birdman bagged that prize doesn’t mean that Boyhood has now lost the Oscar any more than it means that Birdman has now won it, but rather that we may now have a real race on our hands, which makes things a more exciting for everyone.

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