Hollywood's Awards and Industry Insider
Oscar Watch: 'Birdman' up, 'Boyhood' down ... for now

Oscar Watch, charting the ups and downs of the award season, comes to you every Monday from now through the end of February. With the Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild weighing in this weekend, we have a bit more clarity -- and craziness -- to sift through. Let's get to it ...

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SAG Awards 2015: 'Birdman,' Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore win top honors

"Birdman" soared this weekend, with the cast of the dark comedy taking home the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards' top prize Sunday evening.

The film starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up movie superhero seeking redempting had been picking up honors throughout the awards season, though it has been overshadowed at times by critics darling “Boyhood.” But it gained the edge this weekend as it won the Producers Guild Award on Saturday night, followed by Sunday’s victory.


The momentum gives a lift to “Birdman” heading into the final stretch of the awards season, which culimates at the Academy Awards next month.

In fact, Sunday's ceremony felt like an Oscars warm-up.

Over the past two decades, the SAG Awards have become a predictor of Oscar gold. If that holds true, then Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette should have their acceptance speeches ready for the Academy Awards on Feb. 22.

PHOTOS: SAG Awards 2015 top nominees and winners...

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SAG Awards 2015 red carpet: 'OITNB' is everywhere, Aniston is fashionably late
'Birdman' unexpectedly wins Producers Guild's top film prize

In a surprise, the producers of "Birdman" won the top prize Saturday night at the 26th Producers Guild of America Awards -- and in doing so, made the upcoming Oscars race much more interesting.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who also wrote and directed the film, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole received the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures during the ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" has been sweeping critics awards and won the Golden Globe for top motion picture drama. It was a favorite to win at the PGA, which has become one of the leading bellwethers of the best-picture Oscar. The last time the guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences differed in their top choices was eight years ago, when the PGA selected "Little Miss Sunshine" and the academy gave the Oscar to "The Departed."

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015

Also nominated for the guild award were "American Sniper," "Foxcatcher,"...

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Producers Guild Awards: Last stand for 'Boyhood's' competitors?

Producers Guild of America members broke bread (mostly Danish, to be precise) Saturday morning at a breakfast honoring the teams behind the 10 movies nominated this year for the guild's best picture award.

At a panel discussion immediately afterward, PGA national executive director Vance Van Petten touted the group's diversity, noting the presence of four women (all blonds though ... where are the brunets?), one Mexican-born producer ("Birdman's" Alejandro G. Iñarritu) and "one from the AARP."

That would be Clint Eastwood, the senior member of the producers panel that convened onstage at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Eastwood ("American Sniper"), Iñarritu and "Boyhood" filmmaker Richard Linklater told the best stories from the stage, with Iñarritu revealing that he had once pestered Eastwood over dinner about the latter's ability to quickly shoot movies. ("Actors come to work warm and ready," was the reply. "You don't need to wait for a seventh take for them to get it right.")...

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Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki aimed high on 'Birdman'

Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is known for his long takes and bold innovation, but capturing an entire backstage comedy with the illusion of one unbroken shot? Working on "Birdman" with director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was a new experiment.

"I didn't know if it was working or not," says Lubezki, known to his friends as "Chivo" ("young goat" in Spanish). "It was very satisfying to feel the energy of the actors and the crew and everybody. Even if Alejandro is pushing you to the cliff, everybody is so passionate about it."

Lubezki ("Children of Men," "Gravity") and the rest of the collaborators on "Birdman" dove into the divine madness of Iñárritu's laboratory.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015

"Everybody's on their toes," says the cinematographer. "Often when you do a master shot, the actors are giving very little. It's when you go in to their close-ups that you go, 'Whoa, this guy's amazing!' But in this case, all the acting, the sound mixer, the focus puller, everybody knows...

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