Usually the winds of change during awards season rarely come after the Golden Globes show itself. In fact, the nominations can have more sway in influencing Academy voters because the last few years have found the deadline for Oscar nomination ballots before the Globes aired.
Not this year.
The Globes occurred almost two full weeks before ballots are due and that's a long time for Academy members to ponder the possibilities. Now, Bullock was in anyway after her SAG nod, but her win for the Best Actress - Drama Globe over such formidable candidates as Dame Helen Mirren and this year's expected ingenue Carey Mulligan was very significant. In fact, one prominent awards consultant whose company has nothing at stake whatsoever in this year's race told awards campaign to fully expect Bullock to beat Streep on Oscar night. Come again? Beat the legendary Streep? The year she's to be coronated with her third and much deserved Academy Award? It's not like she hasn't finally let the industry know she's annoyed with having lost so many times over the past 25 plus years (Perhaps it's time for Sony to ram that message down Hollywood and the media's throats?).
Let's just say this. If Bullock wins the SAG Award on Saturday night there is officially a race and "The Blind Side" star has taken the lead.
The Globes were full of other surprises such as James Cameron's win for Best Director. And as he shared, everyone including this pundit thought Kathryn Bigelow would win instead for "The Hurt Locker." We're still guessing 5,000 plus Academy members will be more amiable to rewarding Bigelow than the 80 members of the HFPA. Although, a DGA win would certainly help. With all that in mind, let's rundown the major categories and where they stand before the upcoming and important SAG Awards (remember: the largest member of the Academy is the acting branch and 99% of them are in SAG).
2. "The Hurt Locker"
3. "Up in the Air"
4. "Inglourious Basterds"
7. "An Education"
9. "District 9"
10. "The Messenger"
Lowdown: The only people in Hollywood who seem shocked that "Avatar" is going to win the top prize are those drinking the Kool Aid of their own candidates or that "other" bunch who work in...television (let's not go there). In any event, the drama on Feb. 2 will who makes the final 2-3 slots on this list. "District 9" seems likely, but could "Star Trek," "Crazy Heart," "500 Days of Summer" or "The Blind Side" slide in over "The Messenger" or even "Invictus"? Um, yes. Something to look forward for those of us waking up at 5 AM.
1. Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
2. George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
3. Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
4. Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
5. Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Lowdown: A SAG win on Saturday will officially seal Bridges as the Best Actor forerunner. Last year comeback kid Mickey Rourke won the Globe and BAFTA (this was mistakenly listed as SAG previously, but lost the Oscar to Sean Penn. We're betting with Clooney's priorities elsewhere with more important matters, history won't repeat itself.
1. Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
2. Meryl Streep, "Julie and Julia"
3. Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
4. Gabourey Sibide, "Precious"
5. Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
Lowdown: Right now, Bullock has the momentum. However, a SAG win and a smart February campaign could find Streep jumping back in front. This will be one of the more dramatic categories to watch on Oscar night.
1. Kathyrn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
2. James Cameron, "Avatar"
3. Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"
4. Lee Daniels, "Precious"
5. Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"
Lowdown: Sticking with Bigelow, but there will be tension with the possibility Cameron could steal the show. More importantly and somewhat depressingly, Daniels inclusion would make him the first African-American man nominated in this category. Talk about "it's about time"... [Update, whoops. mistake on my part John Singleton was nominated for "Boyz in the Hood" but his work on "2 Fast 2 Furious" must have clouded my memory.]
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"
2. Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
3. Matt Damon, "Invictus"
4. Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
5. Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Lowdown: This field seems very secure and so does Waltz's win.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Mo'Nique, "Precious"
2. Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
3. Julianne Moore, "A Single Man"
4. Vera Farminga, "Up in the Air"
5. Samantha Morton, "The Messenger"
Lowdown: We're not convinced Penelope Cruz makes this field since "Nine" has become a colossal financial and critical failure since both SAG and Globe nominations were announced. Former nominee Morton should sneak in here or there could be a true surprise candidate out of left field like Emma Thompson in "An Education" (and no, I don't suspect that will happen). Won't matter much as Mo'Nique continues to give wonderful acceptances speeches (LAFCA awards night, Critics Choice and Globes) all over town and may be the biggest lock of the night after Waltz.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
2. "Inglourious Basterds"
3. "500 Days of Summer"
4. "The Hurt Locker"
5. "A Serious Man"
Lowdown: Pixar's blockbuster not winning here would be a huge surprise although "Basterds" and "Summer" have a shot.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. "Up in the Air"
3. "District 9"
4. "An Education"
5. "In the Loop"
Lowdown: OK, we're hoping with "Loop" getting in there, but the rest of the field seems safe. As is Jason Reitman's win for "Air."
Awards Campaign is going to be scouting out some of 2011's potential awards contenders amongst the premiere and dramatic competition contenders at this year's Sundance Film Festival over the next week or so. But, we'll take a break from our favorite rows at the Racquet Club and Eccles theaters to chime in on the SAG and the PGA Awards this weekend because, well, they actually mean something.
As the season heats up, look for breaking awards season news and commentary daily on Awards Campaign. For the latest, follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.