The Power of the Dog went into the SAG Awards with the most nominations among films—three but it left with a goose egg. It was a shutout for the Dog. It’s not like the actors are ignoring Dog—they gave it three nominations, after all—but they don’t seem to be biting on it the way the other guilds are. Even among its nominations, it did not get an ensemble acting nomination, the SAG equivalent to Best Picture. That could be because Dog isn’t really an ensemble piece, it’s centered squarely on Benedict Cumberbatch’s character. Worth noting, compared to Will Smith and dark horse Andrew Garfield, Cumberbatch got a fairly cool reception from the room when he presented an award. There is definitely something to Meghan O’Keefe’s theory that popularity is playing a role in this award race. The Oscars are a popularity contest, after all, and as much admiration as there is for Cumberbatch as a performer, he doesn’t seem as popular as some of his peers as just, like, a person.
Momentum is shifting all over the place, and Dog seems to be losing a little, well, power. CODA obviously got a big bump last night [link to CODA/Kotsur piece], and the USC Scripter Awards, which reward adaptations for the screen, happened over the weekend, too, and the prize went to Maggie Gyllenhaal and Elena Ferrante for The Lost Daughter, beating out Dog and Dune, among others. If it were me, I’d give Best Picture to either Dog or Drive My Car, the two best films of last year. But something to keep in mind about the Academy is that they, as a collective, are basic ass bitches who just like to feel good. And The Power of the Dog is NOT a feel-good film.
You know what is? King Richard. And CODA, which I bet a lot of Academy members are sitting down to watch now that they’re hearing so much about it (Apple is also running a mega-expensive campaign for it). Feel-bad movies can win, for sure, as most recently Parasite did. But don’t forget that this is the same body that rewarded Green Book. Two weeks will tell the tale. On the weekend of March 11, the Directors Guild Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, and the BAFTAs all go down, just a few days before final voting for the Oscars opens. The Power of the Dog has lost some heat coming out of the SAGs, but a good showing that weekend could reinstate some of their momentum. It might be too late for Benedict Cumberbatch, who might want to perfect his “losing to Will Smith” face, but I won’t quite count out Dog yet. For sure, though, the Oscar race is not over.