There sure is an awful lot of noise during Oscar season. For months on end, every film guild, critics group, and miscellaneous association under the sun makes headlines as they chime in on their favorite movies of the year. But who are they? Which ones matter? And what does this all have to do with the Oscars?

We're going to break all this down for you weekly and round up the stories worth the strain on your tired eyes. After all, a lot can happen in the ten weeks until Oscar Sunday—with honors announced nearly every day until April 25. It's a lot.

February 26, 2021

• The 87th Annual Golden Globes are happening this Sunday, and there are a couple things to keep in mind. First off—history! For the first time ever, three of the five Best Director nominations went to women: Promising Young Woman’s Emerald Fennell, One Night in Miami’s Regina King and Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao. If any of them triumphs (and the odds are quite literally in their favor), they will become the first female to win the Golden Globe for Best Director in 37 years, when Barbra Streisand last did in 1984. Second—voters! Who calls the shots when it comes to picking Golden Globe winners? Well... not many people at all. Only 87 members comprise the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group that has been handing out the trophies for almost 80 years. HFPA members are California-based reporters who cover the entertainment industry for foreign publications. But the organization lets in only a few new members each year, so the roster stays pretty short. It’s impressive, then, that the annual ceremony produced by this small group has evolved into the third most-watched awards show of the year (behind only the Oscars and the Grammys).

The Big Picture podcast took some time this week to hash out predictions for the Golden Globes (and also talk through some of the recent controversy surrounding the group), but our favorite part? When Lee Isaac Chung stops by to chat about all the steps it took to make Minari, his tender-hearted family drama that launches this weekend on VOD.

• We’re also nerding out seeing Academy members Barry Jenkins and Chloé Zhao together in the same (virtual) room. In the video for Variety, Jenkins of course has lots of questions for Zhao about her recently released Nomadland—but the two masterminds also talk about what it’s like to go from crafting indie darlings to helming Disney juggernauts like Jenkins’ The Lion King prequel and Zhao’s Eternals.

ON DECK FOR NEXT WEEK: A full-on blitz of specialty guild announcements is expected—as sound, costume and production designers all reveal their nominations for the best movie work of the last year.

February 19, 2021

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced nominees for their screenplay honors this week, leaving us with 10 notable movies and a handful of asterisks to sort through. The guild is first and foremost a labor union, and it protects the interests of the thousands of writers who are members. Members of the WGA don’t just write feature-length narrative films—they pen TV shows, documentaries, news programs, even video games and other digital media. That means members know what they’re doing when they pick their favorite screenplays of the year, and a nomination here can be quite meaningful for the storytellers recognized.

But it does come with a big caveat. Every year, more than a few movies are disqualified from WGA recognition due to the fact that they were made outside of the guild’s jurisdiction. Basically, if creatives don’t follow WGA guidelines as they make their movie, they can kiss the gold goodbye. Some of the screenplays ineligible for this year’s Writers Guild Awards (but still eligible for the 93rd Oscars) include: Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, Deborah Eisenberg’s Let Them All Talk, Edoardo Ponti’s The Life Ahead, Kata Wéber’s Pieces of a Woman, and Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland.

Just like the Writers Guild, the craftspeople that comprise the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists (MUAHS) Guild are not limited to expertise in movies alone. The guild is also open to any artist or stylist who can prove they’ve worked on scripted or live TV, commercials, or theater productions for at least three years and is willing to fill out all the paperwork. Roughly 2,000 professionals have gone through those hoops (and paid their union dues), and those are the members that cast votes for the MUAHS Guild Awards.

Just yesterday, the group announced their best-of-2020 picks in three make-up and two hair styling categories. With this many categories, there’s a lot of room to shine at the guild, and the artists behind titles like Bill & Ted Face the Music, Mulan, and Promising Young Woman did just that.

But don’t expect to hear these same names come Oscar Nominations. What happens at the Oscars is very different—here, there’s just one category that jointly recognizes both makeup and hairstyling. Complicating matters further? The fact that many of the MUAHS Guild Award nominees didn’t manage to crack the recently announced Oscars shortlist.

FEBRUARY 12, 2021

Already in the rearview mirror are nominations from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, and a whole host of regional critics group honors. Below, we turn to news breaking in the last week alone:

While we were unveiling shortlists, also announced this week were the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations. These honors are voted on by a group of 400 film critics who review movies for all sorts of outlets in the U.S. and Canada: The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, yes, but also TV news channels, local radio stations, personal podcasts and blogs. It’s important to note there is little (if any) overlap between this group and the 9,000+ members of the Academy. Even still, the Critics’ Choice Awards have quite a knack for predicting Oscars love, especially when it comes to Best Picture. In every year since 2009, at least seven (and very often eight) of the ten Critics’ Choice nominees in that lauded category have gone on to Oscar nominations as well. Those are good betting odds.