So, we’ll wrap up the breakdown with a look at the Leading Performances up for Oscar consideration this year. As we’ve seen, there is a clear consensus as to the performances that are being considered, but we always see shocking exclusions (like, who would have guessed at this point last year that Redford and Hanks were going to be Oscar snubs?) and inclusions and so we need to keep our eyes open for films/performances that are rising at the last minute, because it is the last minute, and this is when those performances will get the jump on those we thought were safe all along.
First, we’ll talk Lead Actor:
We’ll start by clearing out the riff-raff. Ellar Coltrane isn’t happening. Bradley Cooper has been forgotten. Jack O’Connell has won all of the Breakthrough acting awards, but his film has underperformed to the point where that just isn’t good enough, not in this category. Mile Teller’s raves have been overshadowed by his co-star. Those four are clearly out of the race, and so they’ll be leaving the Award’s Tally Page.
I know in my mind that Gleeson isn’t happening, despite 7 critics mentions and 2 big wins, but my heart says ‘leave him on the page for a little while longer’, so I’m going to. It’s also pretty clear that Oscar Isaac isn’t really in the running this year either, but IF his film overperforms (I’m not predicting it to), he could be that shocking inclusion over the more secure nominee. I’m not really considering him here, but I’m leaving him up for now.
So, now, let’s talk about the more obvious choices.
|I got this!|
Michael Keaton is the surest lock. He’s also probably winning the Oscar. He’s been mentioned 24 times and has won 16. I said this the minute he accepted his Hollywood Film Award (which was a career achievement and not even for Best Actor), this is his year. It just felt right. Sometimes those things become clear in a single moment (because, up until that point, I wasn’t sure who was going to be out frontrunner). I know that the HFA means nothing, and I know that he didn’t even win Best Actor there, but it was his presence, the reaction from the room, the montage, his humbleness; it all felt so genuine and so resounding and it just became clear, to me at least, that he was going to win the Oscar.
Next we have two British actors playing British legends who have received a lot of support and resounding raves in films that are clearly headed for a BP nomination; Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch. Playing famous is a real fetish for AMPAS, but playing famous and tortured makes them all sorts of cinematically horny. Cumberbatch’s film is better poised for an Oscar win, so he’s probably got a small edge on Redmayne despite the fact that Redmayne’s role is baitier (and Redmayne has actually won a few things, albeit unimportant things), but it really doesn’t matter who’s in the lead since they are both getting nominated. My only wonder is if one of them will take the BAFTA from Keaton, or if Keaton’s ride to the Oscar win will be glitch-free.
I kind of think we may see Cumberbatch snagging the Drama Globe and Redmayne snagging the BAFTA…
2) Cumberbatch/The Imitation Game
3) Redmayne/The Theory of Everything
Here is where things start to get a little tricky. We have two spots left, and five serious contenders for that spot; Carell, Fiennes, Gyllenhaal, Oyelowo and Spall. I can honestly see any combination of these five making it in at this point, because I don’t think any of them are truly safe. Selma is poised to make a splash with Oscar, but the late screenings have caused it to underperform with precursors, and despite hitting Globes and BFCA, Oyelowo hasn’t won anything of note this year and could suffer from other actors getting the chance, in his absence, to sneak out in front. Spall had a great start with that Cannes win, and he’s sure to have a passionate British vote, but will that be enough, especially when he has baitier British actors already secure in their Oscar standing? Carell looked dead, and then he hit SAG and Globe and felt revitalized, but is his film too cold to really generate enough passion to get him in? Gyllenhaal has the raves, and despite the fact that his film felt so un-Oscary, it’s done remarkably well and he’s hit SAG, Globe and BFCA, and has won 4 critic’s awards to go along with his 16 mentions. He has a lot going for him, and yet I’m still sort of skeptical. And then we have Fiennes, who I wrote off months ago, but who has made a semi-comeback thanks in part to his film being a critics darling and raking in nominations here and there. He hit with the Globes and received a surprising BFCA nomination, and part of me wonders if that could be enough to get him the passion #1 votes he needs to make it onto Oscar’s ballot.
For now, I’m guessing…
5) Fiennes/The Grand Budapest Hotel
|This is my 'Oscar Snub' face...I hope I don't have to use it...|
And now, we’ll talk Lead Actress.
Again, let’s start by trimming out the Award’s Tally Page.
While I thought for a brief moment that Dorval could become a thing, it has become obvious that she is not, despite her Satellite and OFCS nom. I also was one of those who thought Woodley had a shot, but she obviously doesn’t. I’m holding out some sort of hope (even though I know it isn’t happening) for Gugu, but it’s become clear that if she happens, it won’t be for Beyond the Lights, so I’m taking that off the page. Speaking of vote splits, we can probably X out The Immigrant, since it is rather clear that the passion for Cotillard lies in Two Days, One Night.
So that leaves us with 9; Adams, Aniston, Cotillard, Jones, Mbatha-Raw, Moore, Pike, Swank and Witherspoon.
First things first, Moore isn’t missing. She’s locked in for the nom, and most likely the win. It is her time. She hasn’t won the bulk of the critic’s awards (she’s only taken 6 wins so far), but it doesn’t matter for this kind of actress in this kind of year with this kind of performance. Think Winslet circa 2008. She was due. She had five previous nominations under her belt and was perceived as one of the most overdue actresses for an Oscar win. She was also in a year that had no real consensus as to ‘the best’. The actress who snagged nearly all of the critic’s awards (Sally Hawkins) wasn’t even a serious threat for an Oscar nom (you could liken her to Cotillard this year), and the other actress (Hathaway) who had the reviews (arguably better reviews) was young and on her first nomination and was pretty much going to have to wait her turn (you could liken her to Pike this year). Witherspoon could be this year’s Streep (previous winner with some wins under her belt for this particular performance), Aniston could be Leo…I mean, we could get all into comparisons here but the bottom line is, Moore has a map in her hands that leads to Oscar, and she has her sights firmly set. A Portman-esque performance would have had to emerge in order to steal Moore’s Oscar thunder, and that just hasn’t happened.
1) Moore/Still Alice
|If only I could stage an accident, where all copies of Still Alice were lost in a fire...|
After Moore, I think it’s pretty clearly Pike. This is the role of the year. This is the Lisbeth Salander of 2014. I’ve been bullish on this performance since the beginning of the year. I have said all year that Pike was in it to win it…I mean, I honestly thought that she could be our Oscar winner (even though I foolishly predicted that it would be Adams based on her perceived dueness and the baitiness of her biopic). I’ve never wavered from the idea that she was locked in for a nom, and her recent run with the critics and the fact that she’s shown up everywhere has only confirmed it. She’s in this. I wish she had a chance to win, because her performance is extraordinary, but I fear that her run will stop once the televised awards begin, but there could be a smidgen of hope that she snags the Drama Globe if Moore wins the Comedy Globe.
We can pray.
2) Pike/Gone Girl
I think we can all agree that Witherspoon is next.
Now we have a few names to toss around. The first that comes to mind is Jones, since she’s in a BP contender and is thought to be practically safe, but I question how safe. She hasn’t won anything, despite popping up in all the important places, but in a wide open race (you know, where the winner, or at least the top 2/3 are so solid) passion counts, and I don’t think she has much of that. I could see her snubbed, possibly, if passion pockets vote en-mass for their favorites.
Who could benefit from passion pockets? Aniston and Cotillard. Cotillard has walked away with the most actual wins this year in this category (Pike actually just tied her, to be honest) and her performance has some of (if not THE) best reviews, but she’s in a foreign film and has been an eternal snubee ever since her Oscar win. Aniston came out of nowhere and snagged BFCA, SAG and Globe nominations, and while I don’t want to take her seriously (I mean, does anyone?), she’s fighting for this, having dinners and screenings hosted for her and she’s campaigning hard. SHE WANTS THIS.
|You love me, you really love me!|
I think, right now, that it would take a miracle for Adams, Mbatha-Raw or Swank to show up, considering that all the buzz is surrounding the three aforementioned performances, but they could surprise, maybe, but I doubt it.
Right now, because I can, I’m hedging my bets on passion and doing something kind of dumb; predicting a Jones snub.
5) Cotillard/Two Days, One Night