‘The Big Short’ takes PGA and steals ‘Spotlight’s’ frontrunner status for Best Picture

Fact: It would be the worst reviewed winner since 'Crash'
"The Big Short"

If you are going to go by the stats, the only films nominated for Best Picture that could win after the nominations were announced earlier this month were “Spotlight” and “The Big Short.” Each had support from the key branches of The Academy with nominations for Best Director, Editing, a Screenplay category, an Acting category (or two) and, of course, a Best Picture nod (for those wondering “The Revenant” with its 12 nods missed out without an acting nod). After the PGA Awards Saturday night we have a new frontrunner.


According to a friend in the room, many in the audience greeted the announcement with stunned silence and confusion (although my old colleague Kris Tapley insists its because they couldn’t hear what presenter Michael B. Jordan said). Considering how momentum had seemingly slowed for “The Big Short” this win was a surprise. For those who were unaware, the last time the PGA Award missed out on predicting Best Picture was 2007 when “Little Miss Sunshine” took the honor (“Gravity” tied with “12 Years A Slave” two years ago, but again “12 Years” still won). Before then the Producer’s Guild picks didn’t always align with The Academy, but eight years in a row certainly makes it a key indicator.

Adam McKay’s economic crisis drama now only needs to take either the SAG ensemble or DGA Award to sew up the honor. It was always a player for SAG (although I have a slight hunch “Straight Outta Compton” could surprise) and DGA may not matter if George Miller or Ridley Scott take the award. Frankly, “Spotlight” needs either award if it still has a shot for Best Picture. And, as crazy as it may seem, if it looses the ramifications of actually getting critical support from LAFCA or NYFCC may be questioned (see “Boyhood,” “The Social Network” among others). But, that’s getting slightly ahead of ourselves.

Frankly, if “The Big Short” wins Best Picture it will be the worst winner since “Crash.” And that’s not just this pundit’s opinion. That’s according to both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes.

And again, next weekend’s SAG and DGA honors will either seal the deal or create more confusion.


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With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios, has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times and co-founded HitFix, Inc. serving as its first Editor-in-Chief and President. Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.

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