Seven weeks from today Oscar nominating ballots will be in the hands of Academy voters. Seven weeks! No wonder Academy campaigners already seem stressed and overheated about the race. With the Acad moving to electronic voting and shifting the nominating balloting period 10 days earlier than normal to the holiday corridor of Dec 17 thru Jan 3 this has become the most truncated race in memory, as least as far as those all important nominations are concerned. Noms will be announced on January 10th. That’s two weeks earlier than last year and the same day as the Broadcast Film Critics Association recently announced they would hand out their precursor awards this year and just three days before the Golden Globes. The Academy’s surprise move even forced the Director’s Guild Of America to move up the date of their own nominations announcement by two days to January 8th as everyone scrambles to maintain their piece of the pie and Oscar consultants try to figure out ways to get their movies seen before those ballots are in voters hands.
Speaking of the DGA, their normally non-controversial membership screening program is suddenly causing waves and concern among some awards campaign consultants who got the Guild’s November screening schedule and felt it was showing favoritism to one big contender over all the others. The Guild normally has one official screening for members in LA, NY, SF, DC and Chicago for most movies. The all-important November schedule does list just one official Guild-sanctioned showing for such contenders as Hitchcock, The Life Of Pi, The Sessions, Silver Linings Playbook, Anna Karenina and Skyfall among other buzzed-titles, with all but the latter two featuring a Q&A with its director. Disney/Dreamworks’ Lincoln though has been given two prime back-to-back official screenings at 3 and 7 PM on Saturday November 10th featuring a Steven Spielberg Q&A following the first one. One studio rep with contenders this year said they had never heard of this happening before and at least one other called the DGA to question them about it. Yet another veteran consultant I contacted who has a film scheduled for November also said it was the first time they had heard of this DGA policy and was upset about the perceived favoritism.