Numlock Awards: The best acting contest in years
Brendan or Austin? Michelle or Cate? Jamie or Kerry?
Numlock Awards is your one-stop awards season newsletter. Every week, join Walt Hickey and Michael Domanico as they break down the math behind the Oscars and the best narratives going into film’s biggest night. Today’s edition comes from Walter.
This was a huge weekend for precursor awards, with the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday — the most accurate predictor award we follow when it comes to Best Picture — and the hugely consequential SAG Awards on Sunday evening.
We’ve got two big takeaways from the weekend.
First, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a huge favorite for Best Picture. Both of the awards broke in its favor, and any case for its competitors being under-the-radar frontrunners fell apart.
Second, the acting categories are incredible this year, with three of them now tight races with bona fide tossups. I don’t use that term lightly. This year we saw BAFTA and SAG split on all four of our acting races. It’s extremely exciting, for me at least: they’re the best indicators of acting winners, and this year we will get critical data as to who’s better tracking the preferences of the Academy, BAFTA or SAG, and as a result our model’s going to get better next year.
Let’s dive on into those races.
Best Supporting Actor
This one is the only category where we have a clear, obvious frontrunner in Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once). Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin) won at the BAFTAs, but it’s tough to argue with Quan’s momentum.
Best Supporting Actress
Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All At Once) jumped to the favorite with a win at SAG, the most predictive precursor in this category. But the lead is small. Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) won at BAFTA, another remarkably predictive prize. This follows Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) winning both the Critics’ Choice Award and Golden Globe, each not especially predictive but together making an early case for Bassett in the lead.
No idea what’s happening in this category. It’s a first-past-the-post election, which means that people voting as fans of the popular Everything Everywhere All at Once may split their votes, as costar Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once) is also up here. We’ll never see the vote counts but I bet someone’s going to win this with a plurality of the vote, maybe in the thirties or low forty percents.
The SAG Award victory for Brendan Fraser (The Whale) made this one a whole lot closer. To recap, Fraser and Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) split up most of the early local city critics’ prizes we follow in this category. Then, Austin Butler (Elvis) won a Golden Globe, then Fraser won a Critics’ Choice. Last week, Butler wins at BAFTA, and then this week, Fraser wins at SAG. That leaves us here:
BAFTA and SAG have really similar weighting in this category, and enjoy very similar accuracy ratings. Truth be told the BAFTAs have actually been getting much better at this one lately, here’s the recency-weighted accuracy figure for all the awards here:
In short, the tiebreaker here is functionally that Golden Globe win for Austin Butler, and given the fraught history between that organization and Fraser, and the actor’s boycott of the ceremony, I would consider there’s a valid case to be more skeptical this year of Butler’s lead. Either way, it’s a tight race.
SAG Award winner Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) versus BAFTA winner Cate Blanchett (Tár). Because BAFTA is excellent at calling Best Actress, that alone would be enough to give Blanchett the lead here, but she’s also picked up wins at the Critics’ Choice and the Drama prize at the Golden Globes, which really gives her an edge.
Beyond the precursors, a lot of the chatter around this category is going to be about the momentum behind Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is categorically Yeoh’s movie, and the possibility of a first win for Yeoh. This would be the third win for Blanchett, and in a damn near generational performance.
It’s a first-past-the-post election so whoever gets a plurality wins. What a category, what I would give to see how close this vote is.
Really, when I lay it out like this, it’s difficult to come up with a case for any other movie in this slate having anywhere near the momentum or acknowledgment that Everything Everywhere All at Once has.
To attempt to, The Fabelmans and All Quiet on the Western Front have the best cases, but they’re slim.
All Quiet on the Western Front won at BAFTA, but as I covered a week ago the BAFTAs are bad at calling Best Picture now. That film did remarkably well at the BAFTAs in general, and my working theory is that’s because it’s just a film about how the French are arrogant and stupid and the Germans are cruel and also stupid, thus flattering the core British sensibility and perspective on continental affairs.
The Fabelmans won the Golden Globe for Drama. The Golden Globes are still a bit of a mystery for us right now, as this is their first year back on the air after a hiatus last year where, besides not being televised, they also got Best Picture wrong. The Fabelmans is an excellent movie and certainly has heat, and it’d be unwise to count out Spielberg. That said, its case that its winning over the kind of people who vote on Best Picture isn’t much better than Banshees of Inisherin, which also got nominated everywhere and won a Golden Globe.
There you have it: Everything Everywhere All at Once, the favorite.
Other cool links:
Definitely read thispiece about Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio and what it means for the Mexican stop-motion animation scene. We don’t really track Best Animated Feature — tried it once at FiveThirtyEight, the precursors are iffy, I wrote all about it last year, maybe we start it up again next year if y’all want it — but GDT’s Pinocchio has swept what precursors do exist and is definitely the favorite, it’s a great film do check it out.
Off topic, but my favorite game right now is CineNerdle2 and I also think many, many of you will also like it.
Really appreciate the shout-out!