Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Part 2)

Today, Josh and I are tackling the acting categories.  These are notoriously my favorite aspect of the race and so debating them is of all the fun for me.  Yes, I understand that there are many facets of movie making, and following the Oscar’s every year for the past decade has helped me to understand that more fully, but I always gravitate towards the acting categories.  It is the aspect of film I have the most fun debating and discussing and actors in general make me happy.

Dissecting the races here can be difficult because the categories really develop over the course of the year and while shocks aren’t always common, they do happen and so pinpointing where the race will go is difficult until the year progresses further.

Alas, let’s get into this!

Lead Actor:
These acting categories are so hard to call this early on, and the thing is that there are so many projects that look promising.  You have this wide range of fare that looks to cover every spectrum and it’s just deciding which films are going to hit with the acting branch and to what extent.  Payne’s films often carry over an acting nominee, so I’m thinking that Dern could get welcomed back to the club.  That being said, as good as Payne is with actors, O. Russell’s recent streak is insane, so I’m thinking that Bale could very well follow up his Oscar winning performance (also in an O. Russell film) with a nomination in the Abscam film.  Bale and Dern aren’t the only previous nominees with a potential nomination hanging in the balance though.

Then we have the DiCaprio questionmark.  He says it is his best work to date, and he’s reteamed with Scorsese, which is always a good sign (unless you’re looking at ‘Gangs of New York’) but the nature of the film has me questioning how Oscar will embrace it.  Besides, despite precursor support and many predicting a WIN for him for both ‘J. Edgar’ and ‘Django Unchained’, he would up being snubbed for both performances, so I’m not so sure how beloved DiCaprio is at the moment.

Affleck, Brolin (although I hear he could be supporting), Cooper, Firth, Gosling, Hanks, Hoffman, Renner and Whitaker all have Oscary looking films coming this year and any of them could factor in.  I’m especially interested to see what happens with Casey Affleck this year, since Sundance was very kind to ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’.  That said, I’m not certain we’ll see any of them pop up here this year.  Instead I see a very NEW lineup, which excites me as well.

Michael B. Jordon received raves for his work in ‘Fruitvale’.  He’d be one of the youngest nominees, but young nominees aren’t that rare.  He just won’t win.  The nature of the film and the performance coupled with the reviews and Weinstein should make his story BIG this year and help push him to a nomination rather easily.  Steve Carell working with Bennett Miller (who is VERY good with his actors) in a biopic that appears to be a serious departure from his usual fare should help earn him points as well.  Then you have Matthew McConaughey who built a newfound reputation thanks to his work in 2012 and his slew of critic’s mentions and wins for various films, and buzz is all over his hideous transformation to play a real life AIDS victim in ‘Dallas Players Club’.

I’m thinking those three are going to be out in front end of this year.

But after that I’m struggling with my final thought on three names; Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac and Benedict Cumberpatch.  All three of them are respected actors working today waiting for their big break with the Academy.  I’d put Fassbender here as well, since he’s headlining ‘The Counselor’, but early word is his character is the least captivating in the film.  Ejiofor plays a slave on the run, Isaac plays a struggling musician and Cumberpatch plays the infamous Julian Assange.  I almost want to say that they should all make it in, but I have this sinking feeling that none of them will make it. 

So I’m thinking:

Steve Carell/Foxcatcher
Bruce Dern/Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio/The Wolf of Wall Street
Michael B. Jordon/Fruitvale
Matthew McConaughey/Dallas Buyers Club

Josh's Picks:
Christian Bale/American Hustle
Steve Carell/Foxcatcher
Leonardo DiCaprio/The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor/Twelve Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey/Dallas Buyers Club

Carell, DiCaprio and McConaughey are all on our ballots.  I'm not convinced any of them will be our year end winner, but I think they have the best shots at nominations right now as well.  Josh went with Bale for the ABSCAM movie (supposedly titled American Hustle) and Ejiofor.  I hope to god he's right about Ejiofor!  I really want him to be an Oscar nominee.  In fact, I hope Josh is right about ALL of the McQueen faith this year!

Lead Actress:
Every year, at about this time, we all imagine that the best actress lineup is going to consist of Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman.  Seriously, if they have movies out (especially Winslet and Streep) then we assume they are going to be in contention and the idea of them all being nominated together is just too much to bear.  It’s not just those Oscar winners though; there are many Oscar darlings who come out year after year with what seem like big ticket films.  Since her win in 2007, I think I’ve predicted Cotillard for a nomination three times.  Yeah…so far nothing. 

This year we have a nice mix of the old and the new with some really big names (Streep and Winslet!!!) that are certain to get some heavy support.

So let’s get those two out of the way.  Yes, I think that both Streep and Winslet are getting nominated this year.  Streep is in ‘August: Osage County’ in a role that everyone thought she would win her third Oscar for.  Now some think she’ll win her fourth.  Let’s not go there right now.  Winslet is heading a Reitman film, and we all know how he is with his actors.  That, and this is said to be really baity (complete with depression and miscarriages and newfound love being destroyed) so she could very easily become a frontrunner by years end.

But Streep and Winslet are not the only Oscar winners in contention this year.  Despite the fact that ‘Carol’ is being moved to 2014, Blanchett also has ‘Blue Jasmine’, the Woody Allen film, this year.  I’m not so sure about this considering that Allen works better with his supporting characters (or at least has more consistent success) and for every hit with Allen, he has a slew of Oscar misses.  Marion Cotillard is back with an English language film spearheaded by James Gray and distributed by Harvey Weinstein.  Yeah, Harvey said it was Gray’s masterpiece and we all know how he is with getting his actresses Oscars.  Sadly, early word from the test screenings is that this is NOT an Oscar movie, and they note that she is the only possibility for a nomination, so I’m wondering if she’ll be left off altogether.  Sandra Bullock is also apparently in every frame of ‘Gravity’, so there’s that.  Last year’s winner Lawrence has ‘Serena’, which could welcome her back, although I don’t know if she’ll be back so soon.

And then there is Judi Dench in a Stephen Frears film about an old women trying to find the son she was separated from years prior due to being forced to live in a convent.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I think this is our Oscar winner.  Judi Dench may already have an Oscar, but she feels like such a LEAD ACTRESS Oscar winner to me. 

Then we have the Julia Roberts conundrum.  Like, is she going Lead or Supporting here?  She is the lead in the film alongside Streep, but some feel she could be the Supporting frontrunner if she goes that route.  My thought is, she’s too big a star to go supporting, so maybe we’ll see the return of the double dip in the Leading category with nominations for both Streep and Roberts.  Or, maybe we’ll see her get the shaft ala Julianne Moore 2010.  And what about Emma Thompson?  She’s gotten great ink for ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ so far, but could the film be too small and this category be too stacked?  And many think that Kidman and Watts are our frontrunners with their roles as Grace Kelly and Princess Diana respectively and yet I get this feeling that both films are going to be massive Oscar fails.

There needs to be a newbie, right, and yet I’m struggling to find one I’m confident in.  Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried have had a killer year in 2012.  Watson got surprise Supporting Actress affections for her role in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and Seyfried was everywhere thanks to ‘Les Miserables’.  Both of them have big roles this year, and they could factor in for sure.  Watson is one I’m keeping my eye out for, although early word is that she’s more Supporting.  Greta Gerwig also got raves for her performance in ‘Frances, Ha’ and Scarlett Johansson is playing a man eating alien.  Yeah, she hasn’t a shot in hell but I love the hell out of her so I need to keep her in the conversation.  Many think that Julie Delpy will be our newbie this year, but I’m wondering if they are really going to welcome her to the Oscar roundtable for playing the same character she’s played twice before.

So, I’m predicting:

Sandra Bullock/Gravity
Judi Dench/Philomena
Julia Roberts/August: Osage County
Meryl Streep/August: Osage County
Kate Winslet/Labor Day

Josh's Picks:
Marion Cotillard/Lowlife
Judi Dench/Philomena
Meryl Streep/August: Osage County
Naomi Watts/Diana
Kate Winslet/Labor Day 

We share Dench, Streep and Winslet in our nominations (the three I'm personally most confident in) and yet differ when it comes to Roberts and Bullock, Josh considering Cotillard and Watts instead.  I have trouble figuring Watts into the equation since the idea of her film (and Kidman's at that) just feel so uneventful.  I think category placement is going to be tough to call with Roberts, but I put her here for now (Josh is considering her in Supporting).  Neither of us has a newbie in the lineup, but is going to change as the year progresses.  Gerwig and Delpy seem like the only two for now (Josh is thinking of them as well) but for now neither of us thinks they have a strong enough chance.

Supporting Actor:
Every year I pray that Peter Sarsgaard will get his Oscar vehicle.  This year he plays (yet again) a sleazy creep in ‘Lovelace’, but he also has a role in a Woody Allen film; ‘Blue Jasmine’.  I want to say that this is going to be his Oscar ticket, but much like my devotion to Scarlett Johansson, I’m afraid that all my wishful thinking is just that; wishful thinking.  I mean, Allen is really good with actors, but more often than not, it is the women in his films that get the most attention.

Last year I was convinced that Joel Edgerton was going to get his really big breakthrough with ‘The Great Gatsby’.  I still think he’s going to be electric, and the film is one of my most anticipated of the year, but I have a feeling that the summer release mixed with the delays in release mixed with the controversial approach to the material will leave him out in the cold, especially with so many end of year releases with bigger names.

I also want to believe that Russell Crowe will become a thing this year with ‘Winter’s Tale’, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t happening.

So that leaves me with some big names in some highly anticipated films. 

Let’s talk about the young up and comers who have some serious fare backing them this year.  Chris Hemsworth, Channing Tatum, Ben Foster, Daniel Bruhl, Michael Cera and Justin Timberlake all have some noteworthy films coming out this year that could push them into Oscars line of sight.  Some of them, in particular Hemsworth, Tatum, Cera and Timberlake, are not often recognized as ‘great actors’, but I’ve been feeling for a long time that Tatum in particular was on the verge of an Oscar nomination.  If ‘Moneyball’ taught us anything it’s that even an actor like Jonah Hill can get an Oscar nomination with the right role in the right film with the right director.  Channing Tatum is lucky in the respect that he has the same director that gave Hill that role; Bennett Miller.  It doesn’t hurt that this is a biopic and that Tatum is presumably the co-lead, maybe even more lead than Carrell himself and will most likely get demoted Gyllenhaal-style thanks to the nature of the roles.

I think he’s in.

I’m also considering Hemsworth because I think that his star is rising.  He’s a good looking guy, well liked, well known thanks to the Marvel franchise taking off in a big way, and he has the supporting role in ‘Rush’, another biopic directed by Howard who has a good track record with his actors as well.  I’m just wondering how baity or how big his role will really be.

Then you have the guys who have been working pretty hard for years to get some recognition and have yet to do so.  I wish I could include Daniel Craig here, who originally had the villain role in ‘Monument’s Men’, but has since left the project and Matt Damon was brought in to fill the role.  Instead, let’s talk about Colin Farrell, who it appears is very good in ‘Saving Mr. Banks’.  This is a more prestige type film, and the role seems baity, so maybe this will be his ticket to the Oscar red carpet.  Hanks also is apparently supporting, and has gotten some nice notices, but it appears that Farrell is getting the bulk of the praise.

I’ve already mentioned my thoughts on Sarsgaard.

Fassbender is also very DUE for an Oscar nomination, and I think that this could be his time.  He is playing a vicious plantation owner in ‘Twelve Years a Slave’, and while early notices are divided, some thinking this is too brutal for Oscar, I could see a swell of support giving him #1 mentions if he is as viscous as many have said.  Kyle Chandler has a sympathetic role in ‘The Spectacular Now’, which has gotten some great notices at Sundance, but I’m worried that the film could be this year’s ‘Like Crazy’…forgotten.  John Goodman works his ass off every year and fails to get any traction despite being great all the time.  Could his return to the set of a Coen Brothers movie be his ticket?  I don’t know what Ewan McGregor has to do to get an Oscar nomination; maybe it’s star in a movie with Meryl Streep.  He’s doing that this year and yet I hear that the male roles in ‘August: Osage County’ are pretty bare so maybe he has no shot at all.

And then you have Oscar nominees James Brolin, Javier Bardem, Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix all landing some juicy supporting roles.  Bardem is VERY WELL LIKED and so he’ll probably factor in really well this year for ‘The Counselor’.  I’m not sure what his role is, but once again he’s fugging it up so as long as he’s not reinterpreting his Oscar winning role (please don’t be another villain) then I can see him being a bit player this year.  Ruffalo has the clear supporting role in ‘Foxcatcher’, and he has the biggest arc in the film, so he could be a real force unless Tatum steals all his thunder.  Tatum is such a charismatic actor that I wonder if his narrative will be too strong to allow for Ruffalo to get in.  I’m interested to see how Cooper and Phoenix pan out.  They were both nominated this year, and Oscar does do carryovers a lot, so they could factor in big since neither won this year.  Early word on the Abscam project has me wondering if we could see a double dip here.  I’m no fan of Cooper or Renner, but their roles are reportedly baity as hell, so I wonder if they’ll both pop up.

Right now, I’m predicting:

Matt Damon/Monuments Men
Colin Farrell/Saving Mr. Banks
Michael Fassbender/Twelve Years a Slave
Jeremy Renner/American Hustle
Channing Tatum/Foxcatcher

Josh's Picks:
Casey Affleck/Out of the Furnace
Javier Bardem/The Counselor
Matt Damon/Monuments Men
Michael Fassbender/Twelve Years a Slave
Joaquin Phoenix/Lowlife

Josh's Lowlife faith continues with a followup nomination for Phoenix.  Early ink was favorable to his final scenes, so maybe that will propel him into the limelight, especially since he should have won the Oscar last year.  We both agree on Damon and Fassbender.  I haven't heard much of Out of the Furnace, but Affleck seems like the actor who'll be welcomed back again sometime soon, so many this will do it.  He also has 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints', which has already garnered him a lot of good ink.  Looks like Josh is most confident in Fassbender, but I'm actually most confident in Tatum.

Supporting Actress:
So, this category has got me feeling all kinds of WTF.  I don’t even know where to begin and what to predict and it has me wondering if I’m coloring my predictions with personal bias thanks to a few actresses I adore being in the race this year.  Still, I have to try and think logically, and this category likes to reflect Best Picture more than any other.  Just look at this past year for that.  When the category has an open spot they go for someone in a Best Picture contender.  Jackie Weaver was nowhere to be seen during precursors and yet BAM, there she was on Oscar nomination morning.  So, we have to think about what films are going to get Oscar love and who could benefit from that.

A lot.

I want to mention two vets coming out with killer supporting roles (on paper) in horror films that probably have no shot at an Oscar nomination and yet will probably get some mentions here and there.  Julianne Moore is taking on the same role that earned Piper Laurie an Oscar nomination, and the role is KILLER.  I’m afraid of this remake of ‘Carrie’ for obvious reasons (no remake is necessary and that usually results in something unnecessary) but Moore is amazing and so maybe…  Nicole Kidman has already gotten good ink for her work in ‘Stoker’.  I doubt the film itself will go anywhere, but if this awards season taught us anything it’s that Nicole Kidman can rise above mediocrity to get mentions from her peers.

But I’m not counting on either of them.

I narrowed my pool down to fifteen, and really there are a ton more.  I nixed the idea of Jessica Biel (for The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea), Scarlett Johansson (for Don Jon’s Addiction), Isla Fisher (for The Great Gatsby), Zoe Saldana (for Out of the Furnace) and Samantha Morton (for Her) mainly because I wonder if my adoration of the idea of them being Oscar nominated is more than the actual prospect.  Morton is a two time nominee, but I’m not so sure that the role and the film will be enough to get her in.

So, that leaves the rest.  August: Osage County is all about the actresses, and there are a ton of them.  The one with the biggest Oscar buzz this early on is Margo Martindale.  Those familiar with the play are all about this happening.  It’s an award winning role and apparently very big and showy.  She’s also a beloved character actress who has legions of fans (probably within the Academy) who want to see this happen.  But she’ll have some internal competition as well.  Juliette Lewis, a former Oscar nominee, is primed for a comeback, and her role is said to be substantial.  And then you have Julianne Nicholson, who could be a great newcomer/discovery this year.  Besides, this category LOVES double dipping with the same film, so we could see two of them popping up.

Speaking of newbies, there are a slew of possibilities this year.  Cameron Diaz has a killer role in Scott’s latest, and this could really be her year.  She is an America’s Sweetheart type actress who has flirted with Oscar before but never been officially invited to the party, but this could be her ticket, especially if the film is huge.  But, she has to contend with Penelope Cruz, and Oscar LOVES her.  Jennifer Garner is also a major possibility.  Sure, her husband is getting all the attention now, but she has a baity film project with McConaughey and if it turns into a real acting showcase, she could find her light.  You also have Sally Hawkins working with Woody Allen and Leslie Mann working with Sophia Coppola, as well as Robin Wright, who many feel should always be in the conversation.  I just wonder how prominent a film like ‘A Most Wanted Man’ is going to be.  Alongside Nicholson, I wonder if Ulara could be the big discovery this year.  Those who have read Serena say her role is really, really strong.

Then you have returning nominees.  Amy Adams is on a hot streak that isn’t hot enough to earn her an actual Oscar, but maybe things will change with the help of O. Russell this year.  Oprah Winfrey hasn’t been in the Oscar conversation since 1998, and hasn’t actually been a nominee since 1985, but she’s beloved by fucking everybody, so she MUST be considered, especially since Lee Daniels is directing her in a biopic.  Kristen Scott Thomas has a gangster type role in a Winding Refn film, but she could go the way of Albert Brooks.  You also have Mulligan working with the Coen’s (her work in the trailer looks glorious) and Spencer returning with Sundance hit Fruitvale, and since she’s a previous winner she’ll have instant eyes on her.

I’m having a hard time narrowing this down, but right now I’m thinking:

Amy Adams/American Hustle
Cameron Diaz/The Counselor
Margo Martindale/August: Osage County
Octavia Spencer/Fruitvale
Oprah Winfrey/The Butler

Josh's Picks:
Amy Adams/American Hustle
Cate Blanchett/Monuments Men
Cameron Diaz/The Counselor
Sally Hawkins/Blue Jasmine
Margo Martindale/August: Osage County

In all honesty, I should probably have gone with Josh's picks, or an amalgam of both of ours since I have a feeling that the final five are coming from these two lineups.  We both have Adams, Diaz and Martindale in our sights, but I've gone with Spencer and Winfrey whereas Josh has gone with Hawkins and Blanchett.  We both considered Mulligan (I wanted so badly to predict her) but had to leave her on the outside for the five we've chosen.  Blanchett and Hawkins, on paper, make a hell of a lot of sense, but so does Spencer (Oscar winner playing suffering mother in a Weinstein backed topical movie getting raves out of Sundance) and Winfrey (biggest celebrity in the world campaigning for HERSELF in a historical biopic after being out of the Oscar race for over a decade).  Who knows where we'll be in a few months, but I feel good about both sets of these pics.

Hold onto your butts, tomorrow we get into the visual categories!


  1. Great stuff again man!

    Just out of curiosity: Have you read the synopsis of Out of the Furnace? Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes: "From the critically-acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart comes a gripping and gritty dramatic thriller about fate, circumstance, and justice. Russell (Bale) and his younger brother Rodney (Affleck) live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother is lured into one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast - a mistake that will almost cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother."

    Bale seeking justice for Affleck (in what could be a scene-stealing role)? Sounds Oscar-baity to me, and it could help Bale's Abscam (or American Hustle) campaign and Affleck's possible supporting one (since he has Ain't Them Bodies Saints as well).

    Also, I actually think Hawkins and Blanchett are risky predictions. I hope I'm wrong on that though.

    1. I didn't really know much about 'Out of the Furnace'...In my original draft I had Zaldana mentioned in supporting for it, but I chucked that up to wishful thinking. It sounds great though! I'd love to see Affleck back in the game again.