Saturday, November 1, 2014

Oscars 2015: Where We Are In The Race So Far

Hello, Bloggers, so far, we are in November, which means that plenty of heat is being packed in awards season. So, I figured that I'd give another rundown on how the six major categories will play out in terms of who could get in. But before I do, I'd just like to add that I love how in the Best Picture category, there is no clear frontrunner. Let's take a look:

Best Picture:
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Theory of Everything
Unbroken

With Clint Eastwood's American Sniper being pushed to the end of this year, it could either go the way of Million Dollar Baby or J. Edgar. But in case it goes the way of the former rather than the latter, I'll predict it gets in and Eastwood will be back in Oscar's good graces. Birdman is making quite a splash thanks to its critical acclaim and run in the specialty box office, so one could expect it to make it in the top category, as well as several others. Expect similar results for Boyhood. Foxcatcher has yet to be released to the public but it is making a splash with critics and had plenty of buzz since Cannes. Plus, director Bennett Miller has a perfect track record with the Oscars. But Gone Girl has been released to the public and has made over $100 million domestically. So, that film is a one-two punch thanks to its favorable reviews and B.O. run. This means that director David Fincher could once again go up against Harvey Weinstein, who has the biopic The Imitation Game and helped The King's Speech win BP over Fincher's critical and audience darling The Social Network. Could history repeat itself or be rewritten if these two films end up duking it out? Also, Christopher Nolan, who had Inception in contention the year The King's Speech won, has another sci-fi pic up his sleeve with Interstellar, which could either be this year's Gravity or 2001, in terms of the amount of golden trophies since 2001 only won Visual Effects. Speaking of biopics, we also have the Stephen Hawking pic Theory of Everything in the mix. I said in my review of the trailer that it feels like A Beautiful Mind 2.0. But plenty of us know how the results of that film turned out and who knows how this one will. Lastly, in case we end up with 10 films, Unbroken looks to be a strong contender thanks to the involvement of director Angelina Jolie as well as the Coens who are a couple of the film's screenplay writers. Plus, the film is about WWII, so that might help.

Best Picture: A Most Violent Year, Big Eyes, Grand Budapest Hotel, Into The Woods, Mr. Turner, Selma, Whiplash

Best Director:
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Christopher Nolan, Interstellar
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken

Now, this race is pretty open in my opinion. While there might be a few sure things, the other contenders could just squeeze in. Linklater and Innaritu, you can check off, as of right now. I want to say David Fincher could get in because Gone Girl could get in for BP, but I don't want to hold my breath. I would say Nolan has a likelier chance because his film is a likely B.O. win like Gone Girl and there was a bit of outcry over his snubs for both The Dark Knight and Inception, so they could finally decide "Let's just put him on our ballot" because as of now, I would say he is under the influence of the "Steven Spielberg effect" since while he does get some recognition by the Academy and his films usually win, he himself never actually walked away with any Oscars much like Spielberg before he started making more Oscar-friendly pics. I might even say check off Angelina Jolie for Unbroken, although they could decide they've rewarded her enough since she already has a 2-1 record (With wins for Best Supporting Actress for Girl Interrupted and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award) and when you have a higher winning than losing record, it's VERY difficult to get nominated again. But, who knows.

Dark Horses: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper, Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher, David Fincher, Gone Girl, Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel, Ava DuVernay, Selma

Best Actor:
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner

Now, this race almost seems pretty sewn up, thanks to the first four contenders on this list. Michael Keaton is receiving rave reviews for his stellar, career-best work in Birdman and could easily be a comeback story a la Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Just hopefully Keaton has different results than Rourke. Steve Carell looks to be another lock for his transformative work in Foxcatcher and the Academy loves when a. comedians reinvent themselves and b. actors physically alter themselves. So that is a one-two punch for Carell. But how about a British invasion of two young fellow thesps: Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, who are playing real-life people WWII cryptologist Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking, respectively. But the final slot, I would say goes to Timothy Spall for Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner. Usually, Mike Leigh's women (Imelda Staunton, Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste) tend to be recognized, but how about one for the boys, right?

Dark Horses: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler, Jack O'Connell, Unbroken, Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher (unless they put him in Supporting)Miles Teller, Whiplash, Mark Wahlberg, The Gambler

Best Actress:
Amy Adams, Big Eyes 
Felicity Jones, Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Even though many of us haven't really seen Big Eyes and it doesn't seem to be packing much heat, I might still predict Amy Adams since she has officially become an Oscar darling at this point. But in case, she doesn't, I'll say that Emily Blunt gets in for Into The Woods if that film fares any better than Big Eyes does. But Felicity Jones seems to be a strong contender for playing Hawking's wife Theory of Everything. Although they could potentially put her in supporting. I've heard she is a lead, but these kinds of things have happened before, like how Al Pacino, who was unknown at the time, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather for what was clearly a lead role. Not saying the same thing could happen here, just don't be surprised if it does. Julianne Moore has the most momentum as of now for Still Alice for a few legitimate reasons: a. She has a 0-4 record for she is due for one and b. She is having quite a banner year thanks to her involvement in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, her Best Actress win at Cannes for Maps To The Stars, and her stellar reviews for this. But Rosamund Pike, who has no nominations, is another legit contender thanks to her stellar work as the titular Gone Girl, so you could check her name off, hopefully. Another actress who seems to be having a banner year is Reese Witherspoon, who produced Gone Girl and is in contention for her performance in Wild. She already has an Oscar for Walk The Line, but thanks to her recent "Reesurgence", we might finally see her back in Oscar's good graces and prove that her win wasn't a one-hit wonder.

Dark Horses: Emily Blunt, Into The Woods, Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year, Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night, Shailene Woodley, The Fault In Our Stars

Best Supporting Actor:
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Tom Wilkinson, Selma

Another race where the first four seem like legitimate contenders, but the fifth slot is apparently wide open. Plenty are saying Tom Wilkinson could get in for Selma, and I am predicting him just to be safe, but who knows what could happen. But I'll get into the first four. Ethan Hawke is somewhat of an Oscar favorite with 3 nominations under his belt (BSA for Training Day, Best Adapted Screenplay for the Before.. sequels), so if Boyhood fares very well as it is predicted, then I don't see why Hawke doesn't get in (I certainly think he should, along with the next contender). Even though Edward Norton plays a character as equally as egotistical as the main character in Birdman, Norton has been getting an equal amount of praise as Michael Keaton. Despite having "ruffled a few feathers" in the past, luckily it was a while ago and he seems to have cooled off since then, so he could not only be back in Oscar's good graces and score a 3rd nomination (First two are for BSA for Primal Fear and BA for American History X), but Hollywood's good graces. Next is the newest actor to don the Hulk mantle, Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, who also has been nominated in this category but for The Kids Are All Right. There may be plenty of contenders in this category that have already been nominated but at least it isn't like the 2012 BSA category where everybody already won before. Anyways, one contender that hasn't ever been nominated is J.K. Simmons, who has been getting strong buzz for his work as a cruel music teacher in Whiplash. BSA has always been kind to steadily-working character actors (Jim Broadbent, Chris Cooper, John Hawkes, etc.), so something similar could happen here.

Dark Horses: Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year, Miyavi, Unbroken, Tim Roth, Selma

Best Supporting Actress:
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods

With the exception of one nominee, not much has changed here. It was announced that Meryl Streep will go Supporting for Into The Woods, which means I should probably automatically put her in the Final Five even though despite having not seen the film yet, I would much prefer her spot go to somebody else. I definitely don't hate Meryl Streep, it's just the woman has nothing to prove and it would be nice to see some fresh blood into the mix. I want to say somebody gets in over her, but I'm not betting on it because she's Meryl. But, Patricia Arquette seems to be a frontrunner still for Boyhood and Emma Stone has been getting strong buzz since her film opened. Keira Knightley could score a 2nd Oscar nomination for The Imitation Game after her first for Best Actress for Pride and Prejudice. Lastly, Laura Dern has also gotten strong notices for her supporting turn in Wild, so since Witherspoon has also gotten strong notices, Dern could easily tag along.

Dark Horses: Jessica Chastain, Interstellar, Carrie Coon, Gone Girl (If this happens, I'll do a victory dance), Carmen Ejogo, Selma, Vanessa Redgrave, Foxcatcher, Kristen Stewart, Still Alice

So, those are my predictions so far in the Oscar race. Up until and after Nomination Day, I will continue doing my coverage and I hope you guys will check out my posts. Thanks for reading and here is to a great awards season!