Finally, time for the last two, the big prizes of the night. Best PIcture and Best Director, and it pains me to say they're both likely to go to my least favorite of the nominated films.
- George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
- Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant
- Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
- Lenny Abrahamson, Room
- Adam McKay, The Big Short
You can't bet against the DGA in this category, ever, unless for some reason the DGA winner was not nominated for Best Director, ala Ben Affleck in 2012. But here, Alejandro Inarritu made history as the first person to win the DGA back to back, and he will very likely take the directing Oscar again as well. There are two others in Oscar history who won back to back directing prizes, and that was John Ford (1940's The Grapes of Wrath and 1941's How Green Was My Valley) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1950's All About Eve and 1951's A Letter to Three Wives). So that's quite an exclusive little club he's about to join. Coincidentally, both of those other directors only won Best Picture with one of their films, so Inarritu will very likely make history of his own this weekend as well, by winning Best Picture and Best Director two years in a row.
Winner: Alejandro Inarritu
Alternate: George Miller (this is a pipe dream on my part- it won't happen)
- Bridge of Spies
- The Big Short
- The Revenant
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Martian
Okay, so full disclosure here. I really didn't like The Revenant. It's my least favorite film of everything nominated and I would literally prefer just about anything else to win instead. But, the DGA win combined with the recent Bafta wins seem to show that all the momentum, if there is any, is barreling towards this movie. Interestingly, this was the first year in a long time that the three major guilds (PGA, SAG and DGA) all went for a different film. The Big Short came in on top with PGA, Spotlight took the SAG and DGA went for The Revenant- for the last 7 years, the PGA's preferential ballot, which is the only one that matches the Academy's, has gotten Best Picture right, but historically speaking, DGA has always been the stronger precursor, and in a split year like this, it's the wisest move to stick with the decades long historical trend, plus the fact that predicting a split between Picture and Director is rare.
The last time it happened was when Alfonso Cuaron won Director and 12 Years a Slave won Picture- but there was a really strong "guilt" factor going on with 12 Years, given how many Academy voters to this day publicly refused to even watch the movie and admitted to voting for it anyway, because it was the "right thing to do." That definitely does not apply to the PGA's choice in The Big Short this year. The Revenant is a big hit, it's a sweeping historical epic, it's got the Best Actor and Director winners, it's the kind of technical filmmaking achievement film awards were made for. There's just not enough of a reason to bet against it at this point. Spotlight stands a chance as the actor's choice (although there's really nothing else it can win besides screenplay) and Big Short has that PGA ballot behind it, but with voting happening this week it may just feel like old news.
The choice seems obvious, no matter how indifferent I personally am towards this film.
Winner: The Revenant
Dark Horse: The Big Short