Category Archives: Oscars

2014 Oscar Predictions

Bright and early tomorrow morning, the nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards will be announced in Hollywood. Predicting who will find themselves on the prestigious list is more or less a guessing game, but I figured I might as well get in on the fun, despite not following the Oscar race quite as closely as I have in the past. Here are my picks for some of the major categories, ranked alphabetically

Picture

12 Years a Slave

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Gravity

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

Philomena

The Wolf of Wall Street

Oddly, I’d say 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle are the only sure things. There are plenty of quality movies in the running this year, but not a lot of showy, “prestige” pictures that have gained much traction. Lots of more quirky and/or low-key fare. Other movies like Her, Dallas Buyers Club, or Blue Jasmine could easily sneak onto the list.

Actor

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

To predict Leo or not to predict Leo. That is the question. His Golden Globe win gives me hope, and maybe this year will end the Academy’s streak of snubbing him. Then again, I’m not sure how much they’re going to take to The Wolf of Wall Street. If anyone were to get bumped, it would likely be Redford, but I’m going to stick with the “safe” lineup for my predictions in this case.

Actress

Amy Adams, American Hustle

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

The Academy does look David O. Russell movies (and especially his actors) and they love Amy Adams, so I had to find a spot for her. While I’m a little doubtful that they’ll deny Streep, she does seem to be on the shakiest ground of all the nominees.

Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

James Gandolfini, Enough Said

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

I’m going out on a limb and guessing that Bruhl is this year’s “sure thing” snub, though I could be way off-base.

Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, The Butler

Again, it’s a safe lineup, but I don’t feel like Hawkins has gained enough traction to bump someone out.

Director

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

Original Screenplay

American Hustle

Blue Jasmine

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska


Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave

August: Osage County

Before Midnight

Captain Phillips

Philomena

Animated Feature

Despicable Me 2

Ernest & Celestine

Frozen

Monster’s University

The Wind Rises

Documentary Feature

20 Feet From Stardom

The Act of Killing

Blackfish

The Square

Stories We Tell

Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

The Missing Picture

Omar

SAG and Golden Globes: Surprises and Snubs

Ah, Oscar season. It seems to start earlier every year, doesn’t it? This week, we saw the one-two punch of the SAG and Golden Globe awards rolling out their (fairly predictable) list of this year’s nominees. While the two lists weren’t carbon copies of each other, there was considerable overlap – including a couple of surprising patterns that seem to be forming. Let’s take a look at the most surprising revelations from this week’s announcements.

1. Daniel Bruhl and Barkhad Abdi prove to have staying power

Around the release of Rush and Captain Phillips, respectively, these two supporting actors garnered plenty of praise and moderate whispering about possible Oscar nominations. However, the buzz seemed to have died down, and neither of their films have been getting a whole lot of chatter lately. However, Bruhl and Abdi found their way onto both the SAG and Golden Globe list of nominees. Sure, it’s no guarantee at an Oscar nomination (just ask John Hawkes, Marion Cotillard, Helen Mirren and Nicole Kidman – all of whom scooped up a SAG and Globe noms last year but missed out on the big show), but it gives them a much-needed boost and ensures that they’ll still be in the conversation until the Oscar nominations are announced.

What surprised me about their nominations, though, is the lack of pedigree the two actors have in Hollywood. Bruhl is a wonderful actor who has been working in Germany for years and has had a few Hollywood roles (most notably, a memorable turn in Inglorious Basterds). But he really hasn’t been a crossover darling like, say, Marion Cotillard or Christoph Waltz. Even the fact that he’s being campaigned in the supporting category when his role in Rush is pretty clearly a co-lead shows that the studios were clearly banking on Chris Hemsworth as the star power for their movie. Abdi, meanwhile, is a complete newcomer, and many had been questioning his chances of being considered for an Oscar when he was going up against Tom Hanks, who is about as recognizable of a face as you can find in Hollywood.

Both actors seemed to have a lot working against them, in terms of Oscar chances: relative youth, foreign-born status, lack of name recognition, playing second-fiddle to an A-list star, movies with early fall release dates, etc. Yet, there their names were, even over the likes of Jonah Hill, Tom Hanks, and Jake Gyllenhaal – all of whom had arguably been perceived as stronger contenders prior to this week’s announcements. Will they beat the odds and wind up as first-time nominees in a category completely dominated by previously-winning veteran actors just last year? Only time will tell. Speaking of which…


2. Best Supporting Actor skews young

Last year’s Supporting Actor category was filled entirely by well-established names in relatively stately roles: Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master, Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained, Alan Arkin in Argo, and Robert DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook. This year? Not so much. Along with Bruhl and Abdi, the rest of the category is pretty unexpected, too. Right now, it’s generally thought that the frontrunners of the category are Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. Both play far more colourful, daring characters than anyone in last year’s roster, and both will also become first-time Oscar nominees. SAG and the Globes diverged on the last slot of the category, with SAG honouring the late James Gandolfini for Enough Said, and the Globes continuing to shower love on American
Hustle by nominating Bradley Cooper. It’s hard to say who will take the last spot at the Oscars. Hill and Hanks are still very possible, but neither The Wolf of Wall Street or Saving Mr. Banks have proven to be hugely strong awards contenders yet. However, it’s seeming more and more like that no matter how it all ends up, this will be the youngest Supporting Actor group in number of years.

3. No SAG for Robert Redford

Based on online reaction, this seems to be the most notable snub of the week. Many pundits had Best Actor all locked up: Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, and Robert Redford. However, this just goes to show that you can’t be certain about any lineup until the precursors. Redford’s name was noticeably absent on the SAG nomination list for All is Lost, replaced instead by Forrest Whitaker for The Butler. It is surprising that the actors branch wouldn’t show a bit more love for Redford’s one-man-show performance, especially given his legacy in Hollywood and his respected work in other aspects of the film industry. But I think he’ll find a spot in the Oscar nominations. It may just be a case of SAG really liking The Butler. Oprah was also recognized, and the film snapped up an ensemble nomination. (The HFPA was obviously much less keen on the film and shut it out of the Globes entirely.)

4. No Globe for Oprah = Oscar for June Squibb?

See above. Oprah still has a good chance at getting nominated for an Oscar, but her absence from the Globe’s seems to only strengthen Lupita Nyong’o’s path to Oscar glory. However, I wouldn’t say Nyong’o has it in the bag yet. June Squibb, who also got double recognition this week, is emerging as an unlikely dark horse for the win. Nebraska has been doing extremely well in the precursors, and it seems to be hitting its peak of popularity at just the right time.

5. Best Actress may be as boring as everyone is predicting

SAG only solidified the deserving but uninspired list of potential Best Actress nominees that has been volleyed around for weeks now: Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, and Meryl Streep. And indeed all five actresses found recognition in yesterday’s Globe announcements. So is it as clear-cut as that? Is it going to be a battle between Blanchett and Bullock – two actresses who have won Oscars within the past decade? (Don’t get me wrong – I loved both of their performances and would actually be happy to see either win, but it just doesn’t make for a very compelling lead-up to the Oscars.)

All hope is not lost, though. Amy Adams racked up her fifth Globe nomination this week, and she might just go on to get her fifth Oscar nom, too, if voters are enamored with American Hustle as much as the HFPA was. And with some critics claiming this to be her best work yet, she could knock out Thompson, seeing as Saving Mr. Banks has been evoking some lukewarm reactions. It kind of reminds me of Hitchcock form last year. And look what happened to Helen Mirren – yes to SAG and Globe, no to Oscar.

6. Indie favourites miss out

Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising, exactly. But while Nebraska is proving to be an awards season hit, there are a number of other smaller films that are sadly getting passed over in the precursors. (The fact that they don’t have an established director like Alexander Payne attached may have something to do with this.)

Fruitvale Station was projected to become the next Beasts of the Southern Wild or Winter’s Bone by some, but its strong reception at Sundance and summer indie-hit status sadly hasn’t been translating to much awards play. The smaller critics groups and award shows that designate special categories for breakthrough films, directors, and actors have been giving it lots of love, but it was nowhere to be found in the SAG or Globe nominations. Michael B. Jordan’s early buzz is fading, leaving him probably even outside the top 10 list of contenders for Best Actor at this point. Meanwhile, recent champ Octavia Spencer – once thought to be a strong contender for Best Supporting Actress – was even passed over in favour of Sally Hawkins at the Oprah-free Globes.

Meanwhile, Brie Larson didn’t pick up the support she needed to be a Best Actress contender for Short Term 12, nor did Adele Exarchopoulos or Lea Seydoux for Blue is the Warmest Colour. Stranger things have happened with small movies come Oscar time, such as Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), and Laura Linney (The Savages) sneaking on to the Oscar nomination list without Globe or SAG support, but in all of those cases, they were much more established actors than most of the ones we’re talking about here.

Final 2013 Oscar Nomination Predictions

Well, it’s been a while. A couple people have asked if I was going to do Oscar predictions like I have in the past. Clearly, it won’t be as in-depth as previous years, but I thought I’d at least post a few last-minute predictions (with a little bit of commentary) ahead of Thursday’s big announcement.

Best Picture

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Lincoln
  3. Les Miserables
  4. Silver Linings Playbook
  5. Argo
  6. Life of Pi
  7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  8. Django Unchained
  9. The Master
  10. Moonrise Kingdom

The first five are shoe-ins, I’d say. And of course, the Academy can pick anywhere between five and ten nominees. I feel like there are enough critical darlings from 2012 that they’ll go for the full ten, though. #6-10 on my list have pretty much no chance of wnning, but I feel like they have enough supporters to score nominations. The only other movie I could really see potentially getting in other than these ten is The Hobbit.

Best Director

  1. Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
  3. Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
  4. Ben Affleck, Argo
  5. Ang Lee, Life of Pi

This is the list I had before the Director’s Guild nominations, and today’s announcement more or less cemented my feelings. This is a bit of a weird category, though, since my predictions leave out a number of very respected directors with big Oscar contenders. I think The Master is too inaccessible to earn Paul Thomas Anderson his second Director nod. Silver Linings Playbook is loved, but may not be seen as the same kind of “achievement” as the five listed above. Tarantino’s Django may be too “niche” or campy for voters to embrace to this degree.

Best Actor

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
  2. Denzel Washington, Flight
  3. Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
  4. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
  5. John Hawkes, The Sessions

So who is getting left out in the cold? My guess right now is Joaquin Phoenix, since the SAG nominations spelled trouble for The Master. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him bump out Hawkes (whose buzz is waning) or even Cooper, though. Is the world really ready for “Academy Award Nominee Bradley Cooper”?

Best Actress

  1. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
  2. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Naomi Watts, The Impossible
  4. Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
  5. Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

This is still a very unsettled category, isn’t it? The only two who I’d say are truly safe are Lawrence and Chastain. I could see Cotillard pulling a Tilda Swinton and getting shut out despite precursor support. And is the Academy really going to nominate young Wallis? Helen Mirren would be a much more typical pick. Even Emmanuelle Riva is a dark horse, though I suspect she will become one of those critical favourites who misses at the Oscars. (Michael Shannon, Lesley Manville, and Elizabeth Olsen feel your pain.)

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
  2. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
  4. Alan Arkin, Argo
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained

This has the potential to be a really fun category…or a really boring one. Jones and probably De Niro are locks, but what about the rest. We’ve got campy villains (Bardem and DiCaprio), handsome heroes (Redmayne, McGregor), quirky eccentrics (Waltz and Hoffmna), and some old dudes (Arkin, Goodman) all in the running. And is it possible Django could actually get multiple Supporting Actor nominations? Or will that just lead to vote-splitting and cause everyone from that film to miss out? Despite what I thought early on in the race, this might be the most interesting cateogory.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
  2. Sally Field, Lincoln
  3. Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
  4. Helen Hunt, The Sessions
  5. Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hathaway seems to have this category sewn up. But as for the other nominees, Field is a lock, Kidman has become a surprisingly strong force, and Hunt’s chances are pretty good (but could take a hit if Hawkes misses out). But that fifth spot? I’m going with Smith, but Amy Adams could definitely still sneak in, and critical favourite Ann Dowd isn’t completely out of the running, either.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Django Unchained
  3. The Master
  4. Moonrise Kingdom
  5. Looper

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Lincoln
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Argo
  4. Life of Pi
  5. The Perks of  Being a Wallflower

Things We Learned from TIFF 2012

With TIFF winding down, I thought I’d take a look at some of the shifts that we saw, in terms of the upcoming Awards season. I didn’t find there were any huge surprises, but as usual, some new favourites emerged, and some anticipated flicks lost traction.

  • Bradley Cooper can act! (And might get his first Oscar nom, to boot.)
    • I’ve been a Bradley Cooper fan for a while. And while the movies themselves weren’t that great, I thought he showed some acting potential in Limitless and Valentine’s Day. But boy, did he get a good response at TIFF this year. He’s never been much of a critical favourite, but Cooper earned raves for both The Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond the Pines (which is currently slated for a 2013 release). It’s hard to say if he’ll make the jump to Oscar nominee this year, but right now, I’d say he has a decent shot. Especially if he gets a boost from a certain co-star…
  • Speaking of which, Jennifer Lawrence will probably become the youngest actress to get two Oscar nominations
    • The Silver Linings Playbook was met with great response and pegged as a crowd-pleaser. Jennifer Lawrence received heaps of praise, too. Add in the good reviews for The Hunger Games and her general likeability, and I imagine she’ll probably get her second Oscar nomination at just 22 years old. She might just even win the whole thing.
  • The Master, The Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo will be big Oscar players, like we thought
    • These three seemed well-suited for Oscar glory, and they all received nearly universal praise at TIFF. I’d expect them all to get Best Picture and acting nominations.
  • Hyde Park on Hudson may not be the big Oscar player many thought it would be
    • The FDR biopic really just failed to make much of an impression at all at TIFF. Its buzz seems to have dropped considerably overnight – even for Bill Murray, who seemed like the film’s only definite nomination.
  • Kristen Wiig definitely won’t be getting her second Oscar nom this year
    • Imogene‘s reviews were so bad that I’d expect the film to be shuffled for an inconspicuous limited release next summer
  • Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Noami Watts (The Impossible), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed) are now Best Actress dark horses
    • Winstead’s goodwill from Sundance carried over, Watts earned raves, and Gerwig came out of nowhere to become a critical darling. But will any of them sneak in for a nomination?
  • Anna Karenina and Cloud Atlas will do really well in the technical categories. But will they score anywhere else?
    • Both received mixed reviews but were lauded for their visuals. Knightley still seems like a good bet for Best Actress, but will either find much traction elsewhere in the big categories?

Pre-TIFF Oscar Predictions

With the Venice Film Festival in full swing and the Toronto International Film Festival officially kicking off on Thursday, now seemed as good a time as any to update my Oscar predictions. The outcome of these festivals (along with the assortment of other festivals this fall) will probably help to shape the Oscar race considerably. Past Best Picture winners like The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire picked up considerable traction at the fall festivals, as did last year’s The Artist (though it made its first dent at Cannes). I imagine I’ll probably be altering these predictions in a couple of weeks, but here are my pre-TIFF guesses:

Picture

Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

The Hobbit

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

The Master

Zero Dark Thirty

Other Possibilities: Moonrise Kingdom, Anna Karenina, Cloud Atlas, Hyde Park on Hudson, Killing Them Softly, The Silver Linings Playbook, Amour

Director

Ben Affleck, Argo

Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master

Tom Hooper, Les Miserables

Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Other Possibilities: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Michael Haneke (Amour), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), David O. Russell (The Silver Linings Playbook), Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly)

Actor

John Hawkes, The Sessions

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson

Other Possibilities: Clint Eastwood (The Trouble With the Curve), Denzel Washington (Flight), Bradley Cooper (The Silver Linings Playbook)

Actress

Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone

Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina

Maggie Smith, Quartet

Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed

Other Possibilities: Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Meryl Streep (Hope Springs), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Kristen Wiig (Imogene), Amy Adams (The Trouble With the Curve), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Won’t Back Down)

Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin, Argo

Russell Crowe, Les Miserables

Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

David Straitharn, Lincoln

Other Possibilities: Bryan Cranston (Argo), Woody Harrelson (Seven Psychopaths), Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike), Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Don Cheadle (Flight), Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths), Bradley Cooper (The Place Beyond the Pines), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Master

Viola Davis, Won’t Back Down

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Other Options: Laura Dern (The Master), Olivia Williams (Hyde Park on Hudson), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Vanessa Redgrave (A Song For Marion), Annette Bening (Imogene), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), Sally Field (Lincoln)