Hello, Bloggers, it's that special time of year again: Festival season, which means the Oscar campaigning really kicks in. So, I figured that I would make my predictions in six of the major categories so far: Picture, Director, Lead Actor/Actress, Supp. Actor/Actress. Let's take a look:
In case they want to go with 9 like the last few years, I put in nine predictions. So far, Birdman has been getting strong buzz and received praise after its Venice screening. Every Best Picture has a little indie that could and this year's indie could be Boyhood, since it is making a profit at the box office and has a near-perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Director Bennett Miller has a perfect Oscar track record so far with his first two films (Capote and Moneyball) nominated for Best Picture and it looks like the third time might be the charm with Foxcatcher. Fury might be another major player since it has a somewhat awards-friendly release date in October. Plus, it is about WWII and those types of films tend to fare pretty well with the Academy. After The Social Network came pretty close to nabbing the big prize and after The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sort of went under the radar, David Fincher is going to give it another go with Gone Girl, a film based on a best-selling novel and starring recent Best Picture winner Ben Affleck. Paul Thomas Anderson will reunite with his Master star Joaquin Phoenix for Inherent Vice, which is also based on a novel and if successful, could fare well like most of PTA's other films. Another director who might be given his due is Christopher Nolan who has the sci-fi opus Interstellar, starring recent Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey. This film might have good timing since the success of Life of Pi and Gravity have shown us that the Academy has slowly warmed up to mainstream fare. If it fares well, Angelina Jolie could find herself battling it out with her husband Brad Pitt as she has a WWII film of her own up her sleeve: the biopic Unbroken, which is co-written by the Coens and stars potential breakout star Jack O'Connell. Lastly, we could see Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee hitting a double with the biopic Wild. After working with Matthew McConaughey, who is going through a career resurgence known as a "McConaissance", Vallee will direct former Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, who looks to have a McConaissance of her own. I wonder if stars will line up to star in his films to try and reinvent themselves.
Dark Horses: A Most Violent Year, Big Eyes, Grand Budapest Hotel, Imitation Game, Into The Woods, Selma, Theory of Everything
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
Originally, I was going to add Christopher Nolan for Interstellar, but I left him off just to be safe because who knows if he'll have to make a period piece to finally get nominated despite the outrage over that Inception snub. But since his film is getting strong praise, director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu could easily be recognized for orchestrating the film that received this amount of praise. Plus, if Alfonso Cuaron's win or Steve McQueen's nomination showed us anything, it is that the Academy is being more diverse in terms of who they hand out their awards to or nominate. Richard Linklater won Best Director at Berlin for Boyhood and the fact that he is being recognized for his directing and not just his writing, which he received Oscar nominations for, could land him his first nod for Best Director. As I previously mentioned, Bennett Miller has a perfect Oscar track record with his first two films nominated for Best Picture. Not only that, but he did just win Best Director at Cannes for Foxcatcher and sometimes, that is a good indicator for who will make it to the Final Five. But while David Fincher may not have a perfect Oscar track record, the films that he does land nominations for never go home empty-handed and if he is nominated once more, one could wonder whether it could be his time to win, especially after missing out for The Social Network and the Academy likes to right their own wrongs. While the Academy likes to recognize male movie stars that reinvent themselves as directors, why not recognize one of the most powerful females in Hollywood? Angelina Jolie has an Oscar friendly film under her belt and her influence could very well carry into this category.
Dark Horses: David Ayer, Fury, Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice, Christopher Nolan, Interstellar, Jean-Marc Vallee, Wild
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Jack O'Connell, Unbroken
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
As I have mentioned before, the Academy loves to see movie stars or even comedians reinvent themselves, which Steve Carell seems to have done with Foxcatcher. Not only is he going serious but he is altering his appearance (which they also love). So, this could easily be a double punch. Benedict Cumberbatch has just received strong praise at Telluride for The Imitation Game, which has Harvey Weinstein behind it and deals with a real-life man persecuted for his homosexuality while trying to crack the Nazi's enigma code in WWII. The Academy might just eat this one up. Not only do they like to see movie stars reinvent themselves, but they do love a good comeback, which Michael Keaton is undergoing with his praised performance in Birdman. Plus, they love to push forward the next generation, which means a possible nod for breakout star in Jack O'Connell in Unbroken. But how about a steadily-working actor's actor that has one role that could finally earn him recognition? That actor is Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter), who just won Best Actor at Cannes for Mr. Turner, which is directed by Oscar favorite Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Happy-Go-Lucky). That trend of actor's actors landing one role that earns them recognition is quite present in this category and it could very well continue.
Dark Horses: Ben Affleck, Gone Girl, Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bill Murray, St. Vincent, Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice, Brad Pitt, Fury, Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Now, for both the Lead and Supporting Actress categories, I'm noticing that plenty of the actresses in contention are either Oscarless or overdue. I'll start with Amy Adams, who is 0-5 and has Harvey Weinstein at her corner for the film Big Eyes. Then, there is Jessica Chastain, who looks to have another banner year with films like A Most Violent Year, which could be her best bet at a nomination, in my opinion. Next, we have Julianne Moore, who has a 0-4 record with the Academy. Some wonder whether she'll go Supporting but because this isn't a very loaded category this year, I figured I'd just put her in Lead for now. Originally, I was going to put her in Supporting, but it wouldn't make sense for Rosamund Pike to be put in that category for her performance in Gone Girl when she is playing the "Gone Girl". Lastly, we have the only one in this category who has an Oscar: Reese Witherspoon, who has been getting strong buzz for the biopic Wild and as I have mentioned, is undergoing a McConaissance of her own.
Dark Horses: Jessica Chastain, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Hilary Swank, The Homesman, Shailene Woodley, The Fault In Our Stars
Best Supporting Actor:
Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Whenever the Academy makes a slight error, they like to correct it as soon as they can, which means that Albert Brooks could land a nod for Best Supporting Actor for A Most Violent Year after getting unjustifiably snubbed for Drive. If that were to come to fruition, it would be his 2nd nod in this category since he was nominated before for 1987's Broadcast News. Since the supporting category is usually kind to veterans, Robert Duvall could easily land a spot for his work in The Judge, which would be his first in a while since his last nomination was in this same category for A Civil Action back in 1998. Since Boyhood is getting strong praise and buzz, a light could easily shine on the actor playing the supportive father, Ethan Hawke, who already has nominations for writing the Before.. sequels and an acting nod in this category for Training Day. Much like how Michael Keaton is undergoing a comeback for Birdman, the same is being said for his co-star Edward Norton, who fell off the map due to creating a rep for being difficult by fighting for creative control over his projects. Apparently, his role in the film is a parody of himself, so the Academy could easily recognize him for lampooning his own faults and bring him back to Hollywood's good graces. Not only that, but they could put him in competition with the next actor to don the Hulk mantle: Mark Ruffalo, who is in contention for his work in Foxcatcher, potentially scoring a 2nd nomination in this category within about four years. Even if Ruffalo doesn't land a slot in this category, he still has his fair share of gold with his Emmy win for producing The Normal Heart as well his fair share of green for his part as the Hulk in the successful Avengers franchise. He can still have his cake and eat it too.
Dark Horses: Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice, Johnny Depp, Into The Woods, Logan Lerman, Fury, J.K. Simmons, Whiplash, Miyavi, Unbroken, Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher Tom Wilkinson, Selma
Best Supporting Actress:
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Anna Kendrick, Into the Woods
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Patricia Arquette has gotten quite a bit of buzz for her work in Boyhood and I am quite thrilled about that. She may have a hefty amount of screentime, but it is easy to see why they could put her in this category since the Supporting categories are usually more kind to veterans/character actors/relative unknowns and Arquette falls in between the first two. But the next veteran on this list is previous Oscar nominee Laura Dern who might be in contention for her supporting turn in Wild. One thing that could possibly help her chances, besides her apparently meaty role as the main character's mother that slowly succumbs to an illness and appears in flashbacks, is that it has been a while since Laura has been nominated. Her last outing was back in 1991 for her lead turn in Rambling Rose and the Academy does like to give those that haven't been in contention in a while another shot. Now onto a few more previously-nominated ingenues. The first being Anna Kendrick, who was previously nominated in this category for Up in the Air. She has a role in the musical Into The Woods, which is directed by Chicago's Rob Marshall and he has had pretty good luck with landing nominations for his actresses. There is also Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep to look out for in the same film. Anyways, the next previously-nominated ingenue on this list is Keira Knightley, who was nominated for her lead turn in Pride and Prejudice back in 2005. Ever since that nomination and the end of her part in the Pirates franchise, Knightley has leaned towards smaller films and one of them is the Weinstein-geared film The Imitation Game, where she plays the love interest/partner of the main character and the Academy is a sucker for those types of roles. Lastly is a younger actress is a Hollywood darling that has never been nominated as of yet: Ms. Emma Stone. Stone has gotten pretty close to an Oscar nod with her breakout work in Easy A, but this year, she has a few smaller films up her sleeve which could allow her to channel her artistry, with one of them being the buzzed-about Birdman.
Dark Horses: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosewater, Emily Blunt, Into The Woods, Vanessa Redgrave, Foxcatcher, Meryl Streep, Into The Woods, Naomi Watts, Birdman/St. Vincent
So, those are my predictions in the major categories as of right now. Whether you agree or disagree with any of my predictions, please feel free to write your thoughts down in the comments section. Thanks for reading and here is to a great awards season!