Oscar Moment: Final 2012 Predictions, Part 2 (Supporting)

6 01 2013

With the 2012 Oscar race now immobile until nominations are announced Thursday morning, January 10, now it’s time to take one last look at the contenders and the pretenders before the dust settles.  Today, I’ll be looking at Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, two categories replete with former winners and nominees all vying for Oscar glory.

See my predictions for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables
  2. Sally Field, “Lincoln
  3. Helen Hunt, “The Sessions
  4. Amy Adams, “The Master
  5. Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy

The race is Anne Hathaway’s to lose, and I’d be amazed if she did.  Even though so many critics are against “Les Misérables,” few can deny the power of her performance.  Some of the snootier groups have snubbed her, but take a look at this impressive domination of the category!

Hathaway Dominance

Safe to say, wins from the Critics’ Choice Awards, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards should lead her charge to take the stage at the Kodak Theatre.  Or they will hear the people scream.

FYC Anne HathawayAlthough, in the event of a “Lincoln” sweep (and me sticking my head in an oven), Sally Field could go 3-for-3 and win here for “Lincoln.”  She’s certainly had her fair share of recognition along the precursor circuit, including a high-profile win from the New York Critics’ Circle.

But in a year that could crown Daniel Day-Lewis (and maybe Robert DeNiro) a three-time champion, people will be aware that they would be ranking Field in an elite pantheon with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, I bet they think twice and vote Hathaway.

Or maybe they vote Hunt, who’s all but assured a nomination for her work in “The Sessions.”  It’s the kind of role the Oscars eat up (good-hearted woman who likes to let loose), and the Best Actress of 1997 for “As Good As It Gets” has picked up the Big 3 nominations (Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG) along the way.  I think lukewarm support for the movie hurts her chances to win.  So does the fact that she’s competing against Anne Freaking Hathaway.

Beyond Hathaway, Field, and Hunt, the other two nominations are pretty much up for grabs.  The way I see it, there are 3 women vying for those two spots are Amy Adams for “The Master,” Maggie Smith for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” and Nicole Kidman for “The Paperboy.”  Each has missed a key stop on the circuit: Adams crucially at SAG, Smith with the Globes and Critics’ Choice, and Kidman only with Critics’ Choice.

The PaperboyOn paper, the smart money would be on Nicole Kidman to snag a nomination.  SAG is always the best indicator of actors’ sentiment, and she also has a key Globe nod.

But the Golden Globes are notorious for sucking up to stars so they have to show up to the ceremony.  They are also notable for having many favorite actresses who seem to get nominated for just about anything they do, and this goes well beyond your obvious Meryl Streep.  Nicole Kidman has been nominated for a whopping 10 Golden Globes and has won 3.  So I take their nomination with a grain of salt.

SAG also usually throws a major out-of-left-field nominee into the fray, which at first sight could be considered Kidman.  (Then again, since Maggie Smith has shown up nowhere else, maybe that would be her.)  Last year, it was Armie Hammer for “J. Edgar,” although most thought it was Demian Bichir for “A Better Life” … until he got an Oscar nomination.  In 2010, it was Hilary Swank for “Conviction.”  2009 gave us Diane Kruger for “Inglourious Basterds.”

But “The Paperboy” is, well, quite frankly a bad movie.  And a part of me thinks the Academy will recoil at just how trashy and terrible it is.  There’s certainly precedent for an actor being nominated for a bad movie: Cate Blanchett got a Best Actress nomination for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” which had a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Sean Penn was nominated for the 34% fresh “I Am Sam.”  “The Paperboy” currently sits at 39%.

I predicted the snob factor would keep out Melissa McCarthy of “Bridesmaids” last year because she was crass and defecated in a sink.  I was wrong.  McCarthy didn’t even have the Globe nod that Kidman earned.  So, with that in mind, I will predict Nicole Kidman to get a bizarre Best Supporting Actress nomination for a role that involves her urinating on Zac Efron’s face.

The other spot, I believe, will go to Amy Adams for “The Master.”  Yes, the SAG snub hurt.  But she’s a new Academy darling, garnering three Best Supporting Actress nominations in six years.  And I’ll continue to assert that the Academy, though perhaps not quite ready to anoint her with a statue quite yet, wants to increase the inevitability of her win.  At four nominations, the cries of “why hasn’t she won yet?” will grow louder and louder.

Best ExoticAlthough don’t get me wrong, maybe they will not go with a perennial Oscar bridesmaid but rather a crowned Oscar queen.

Two-time winner Maggie Smith’s SAG nod makes her a formidable foe, though the fact that the Globes didn’t nominate her is troubling.  They were big fans of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” nominating it for Best Picture (musical/comedy) and Judi Dench for Best Actress.  If they loved it so much, where was Maggie Smith?  I suspect SAG got sentimental for a more senior member, like they did in 2010 for Robert Duvall in “Get Low.”

Another possibility I wouldn’t count out is Judi Dench for “Skyfall.”  It’s a sentimental swan song for Dench in the M role, and it will be one of her final roles since she’s going blind.  She won in 1998 for “Shakespeare in Love,” which she was in for all of six minutes.  In this meaty, tragic role, could the Academy be won over?  The BFCA was and gave her a Critics’ Choice Award nomination, although that was in a field of six.  I don’t think Dench is out of the question, but I would still be shocked if she cracked this field.

The BFCA also nominated Ann Dowd of “Compliance,” a character actor who has paid her dues … and now is paying for her own campaign.  She won Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review, although that group has faded in relevancy since they are no longer first out of the gate.  Perhaps a surprise nomination is in store for a hard-working non-star, in the Demian Bichir/Richard Jenkins mold?  A more relevant precedent, however, might be Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom.”  However, she had the awards machine of Sony Pictures Classics working for her all fall.

But I’m sticking with Adams and Kidman.  I don’t have strong enough of a gut feeling to predict Dench or Dowd, and I don’t think Smith has enough heat to make it in the field.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Robert DeNiro, “Silver Linings Playbook
  2. Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln
  3. Alan Arkin, “Argo
  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master
  5. Javier Bardem, “Skyfall

Arkin

There are four set nominees in the field: DeNiro, Jones, Arkin, and Hoffman.  The latter three all scored the trifecta of nods from the BFCA, SAG, and HFPA, which essentially assures them nominations.  Last year saw two such actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton, get snubbed by the Academy.  I can’t pinpoint precisely why they got knocked out other than a strong field for DiCaprio in Best Actor and a strong competitor for Tilda Swinton in Rooney Mara.

The person I would assume is in the worst position is Philip Seymour Hoffman for “The Master” since it isn’t a slam-dunk Best Picture nominee like DeNiro, Jones, and Arkin’s movies are.  But Hoffman, the movie’s only SAG nominee, appears to be the one performance everyone can line up behind for the film.  And he’s been nominated for movies that did not play well with the Academy at large, as demonstrated by his nod for 2007’s “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Argue as you might about the former being a sure thing because he missed out on a Golden Globe nomination, but watch his acceptance of their highest honor, the CecilB. DeMille.  Now tell me if you think the voting body of less than 100 would want to nominate someone after he essentially slapped them in the face a la Ricky Gervais?

If he’s nominated, I think DeNiro could win.  Though he has won twice, he hasn’t been nominated in two decades.  There’s a comeback narrative for one of the greatest actors of our time, and it may be too soon for Arkin and Hoffman to win again.  In the event of a “Lincoln” sweep, a rising tide could lift all ships including that of Tommy Lee Jones.

But who gets the fifth slot to compete against these four prior winners?  I had hoped it would be Eddie Redmayne or Russell Crowe for “Les Misérables,” but those are highly unlikely now.  If they were to pop up, put all your money on “Les Misérables” to win Best Picture.

Magic MikeCould it be Critics’ Choice nominee Matthew McConaughey for “Magic Mike?”  He’s had quite the career turnaround in 2012, and a nomination would be a nice pat on the back.  A nomination would be in the pattern of Robert Downey, Jr. in 2008 for “Tropic Thunder,” another unconventional comedic role from a resurgent actor.

McConaughey is unlikely, however, because the SAG Awards and Golden Globes overlooked him, two groups key to making people take Downey, Jr. seriously.  Though he won prestigious prizes from the New York Film Critics’ Circle and the National Society of Film Critics, McConaughey might have to wait until next year for his shot at Oscar glory.  Something tells me his massive weight loss for “The Dallas Buyer’s Club” is screaming Oscars 2013.

SAG didn’t leave off Javier Bardem for “Skyfall,” on the other hand.  Bardem, himself a prior winner in the category, would fit right in with the rest of the nominees.  His Silva from the movie would be the first Bond villain ever to be nominated for an Oscar, and though I was averse to his creepiness, others don’t seem to share my reservations.

Villains have been dominating the Best Supporting Actor category since Bardem’s win for “No Country for Old Men” in 2007.  There was Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for “The Dark Knight” and Christoph Waltz’s victory for “Inglourious Basterds.”  We’ve also seen nominations for Josh Brolin’s murderous monster in “Milk,” Stanley Tucci’s creepy rapist in “The Lovely Bones,” and Jeremy Renner’s tough-as-nails Jem from “The Town.”  Being bad has never been so good.

But the same argument could be made for Leonardo DiCaprio’s vile slave owner Calvin Candie in “Django Unchained.”  Tarantino wrote the despicable Hans Landa, the character that won Christoph Waltz an Oscar.  Could he earn DiCaprio his fourth Oscar nomination – or perhaps his first win?  I’d love to see it, but I’m worried about vote-splitting between DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, back in the race for a character in “Django Unchained” not all that different than his Oscar-winning Hans Landa.

DjangoBoth DiCaprio and Waltz received nominations from the Golden Globes, but neither showed up on the Critics’ Choice list nor the SAG.  The latter can be explained by a lack of screeners being sent to the nominating committee, but the former is troubling.  I considered “Django Unchained” to be a non-factor in the season until it found some very vocal critical supporters and a large audience.  So I have to think at least one actor from the movie will show up, but I don’t think there’s a consensus on who that should be.

Waltz has won from a number of critics’ groups across the country, but none of them are particularly worth noting.  DiCaprio won from the National Board of Review, which is a far more significant accolade than anything Waltz has received.  If it was just Waltz from “Django Unchained” that DiCaprio had to contend with, I would predict him to receive his first Oscar nod since 2006’s “Blood Diamond.”  But there’s also Samuel L. Jackson from the movie, and many people are also a big fan of his performance.

Had “Django Unchained” unfurled earlier in the season, perhaps there would have been time for consensus to form around one actor.  DiCaprio could have helped himself by doing some press for the movie, yet he’s been remarkably silent.  The moment just doesn’t feel right for him either; I suspect 2013 will be more fortuitous for him with a juicy role in ‘The Great Gatsby” and another re-teaming with Martin Scorsese in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

So, in the absence of consensus, I think vote splitting will knock out all Tarantino’s performers, paving the way for Javier Bardem’s fourth Oscar nomination.

Check back tomorrow, January 7, for my final predictions in the leading acting categories!

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2009: Best Supporting Actress

2 03 2010

It’s here.

By this point, the ballots are in, and all the campaigning is over. The politics of the Oscars are over, and now we are just left with the scripts, the performances, and the movies.  Rather than do one big post discussing and analyzing all of the categories, I want to use this week to honor the films and performances themselves.

Penelope Cruz in “Nine”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “Cruz is absolutely mesmerizing from the first instant we see her traipsing around on some pink fabric.”

She’s here because … she was the highlight of a pretty disastrous movie, pulling off one of the year’s sexiest performances.

Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “Vera Farmiga walks a very thin line between “feminine and agressive,” according to Reitman, and she never gives us any hint that she will lose her balance.”

She’s here because … she is a delightful female counterpart to George Clooney, and her performance illuminates Clooney’s character as a whole.

Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “It’s a performance very much in Gyllehaal’s comfort zone, and she’s pleasant to watch.”

She’s here because … she holds her own against the renowned Jeff Bridges, and she has a lot of respect amongst actors (not unlike her co-star).

Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”

IN MY OWN WORDS: [Kendrick] doesn’t show promise as a star; Natalie Keener has made her one.

She’s here because … she is a brilliant discovery, making uptight lovable and reminding us of the happiness and pain that comes with having real human relationships.

Mo’Nique in “Precious”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “Mo’Nique delivers a performance that is absolutely harrowing.”

She’s here because … this is the most emotionally gripping performance of 2009, and it’s equally shocking to think that it comes from the actress who headlined “Phat Girlz” three years ago.

Marshall’s “Oscars”

The Academy did a pretty good job this year. My top five match 4/5 with their list.

I would replace Maggie Gyllenhaal with Rosamund Pike for “An Education.”  Both played relatively simple characters: Gyllenhaal the devoted single mother and Pike the dumb blonde.  But the distinction arises from what they do with it.  Gyllenhaal seems complacent with sticking to the stock character; on the other hand, Pike does fascinating things with Helen.  I didn’t feel like I was watching the ten millionth air-headed rich blonde because Pike made it feel refreshing and new.

In my review, I said about Pike:

“The performance that will probably go criminally unheralded is Rosamund Pike as one of David’s companions.  She is the typical ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype, but she brings her own flair to it in a way that makes the tired stock character seem brand new.  When she is on screen, you can’t help but grin.”

So, at Marshall’s Oscars, the nominees are…

Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Rosamund Pike, “An Education”

In case you don’t realize this, my favorite is revealed in the “should win” listed below.

Predictions

Should win: Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Could win: Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Will win: Mo’Nique, “Precious”

No way in hell anyone other than Mo’Nique wins. She’s just too good.





F.I.L.M. of the Week (October 9, 2009)

9 10 2009

“Girl, Interrupted” has the illustrious honor of being featured as this week’s F.I.L.M. (First-Rate, Independent Little-Known Movie).  The movie has gained some notoriety for establishing the star of Angelina Jolie, winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.  The movie made a small sum at the box office, but it has now been relatively forgotten.  I have seen it sitting in a bargain bin at Blockbuster a fair few times.  But I decided to watch it on HBO during the summer, and the movie definitely does not deserve to be buried in a cardboard box with several installments of “Saw.”  It is a well-thought, provocative study of a woman and the society that may have been the push off the cliff of sanity.  Virtually every element of director James Mangold’s movie is fully realized, unfortunately uncommon among movies nowadays.

The film begins with Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) narrating: “Have you ever confused a dream with life? Or stolen something when you have the cash? Have you ever been blue? Or thought your train moving while sitting still? Maybe I was just crazy. Maybe it was the 60’s. Or maybe I was just a girl… interrupted.”

Her epigraph sets the tone for the whole movie as she is coaxed into entering an asylum with borderline personality disorder.  There, she meets compulsive liar Georgina, anorexic and self-destructive Daisy (Brittany Murphy), the loner and occasional transvestite Cynthia, burn victim Polly A.K.A. “Torch,” and the queen bee, possibly sociopathic Lisa (Jolie).  Susanna’s friendships define her stay at the hospital, especially the alluring Lisa.  As they swap pills, defy authority, gossip, abuse, and betray, Susanna is definitely affected.  But the more time she spends in the hospital, does the pendulum swing towards sanity or insanity?

As far as similar movies go, “Girl, Interrupted” is not a classic in the vein of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”  But there is definitely some great stuff at work in this film.  Mangold manages to find humanity and happiness in a place as dark and dreary as an asylum.  The movie, while tough to digest at times, provides some very tender and touching moments as well.  I found my heart completely captured by a scene outside of the solitary confinement room where Lisa and Susanna sing Petula Clark’s “Downtown” to one of their friends to raise her spirits.  But the movie is more than just moments; the whole work gets the brain racing.  Don’t be surprised if the definition of insanity becomes a little hazier for you or if you start to wonder if the “millennial” decade has taken a toll on you.





Oscar Moment: “Up In The Air”

4 10 2009

You’ve already heard me say my fair share about “Up in the Air,” but a new trailer was released and I couldn’t help myself.  This trailer gives us more information about the plot, yet it still leaves us with curiosity and excitement.

Most pundits are now calling “Up in the Air” the frontrunner for many Oscars including Best Picture.  They say this with confidence after the movie opened to unanimous critical acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival last month.  As I stated in a post a few weeks ago, I am really pumped for this to open.  If only George Clooney didn’t have two other movies opening in November, I could be seeing the movie a month earlier than I am forced to now.

I have already made a point to highlight Clooney and Reitman, so I will take this “Oscar Moment” to focus on the supporting cast.  Of these, the most prominently featured in the trailer is Anna Kendrick, who plays Natalie, the naive Cornell graduate assigned to shadow Ryan Bingham (Clooney).  I have not seen any of Kendrick’s previous work; some girls might recognize her from a certain movie that I refuse to mention (if forced to reference it, I will simply call it “the T-word”).  But Reitman wrote the part of Natalie specifically for Kendrick, so clearly she has chops.

Another supporting actress worth noting is Vera Farmiga, who plays Alex Goran, the frequent traveler of Bingham’s dreams.  Unlike Kendrick, I have seen one of Farmiga’s performances as the spellbinding lone female presence in “The Departed.” Like Kendrick, Reitman wrote the role especially for her.  From my limited vantage point, it would appear that Farmiga has the more daunting character to tackle because Alex seems to illuminate a sensitive side of Bingham through their encounters.

While having a great supporting cast makes for an outstanding movie, it can often prove troublesome around awards season.  In supporting categories, it is not unheard of to have two nominated performances from the same film.  But the supporting actress category is teeming with talent this year.  Mo’Nique is a virtual lock, and, barring a complete meltdown, “Nine” will most assuredly have one actress in the category (my money is on Marion Cotillard).  I see three possible scenarios for Farmiga and Kendrick, sorted below in order of probability:

  1. One of the women will emerge an audience favorite and will be nominated.
  2. The movie proves so unstoppable that both are nominated.
  3. Voters are split between the two and neither receives a significant enough showing to receive a nomination.

Most experts seem to be leaning towards the first scenario, and they think it will be to Kendrick’s benefit.  I have to say I agree because the Best Supporting Actress category has traditionally been one to reward young talent.  The second scenario seems more likely to play out in favor of “Nine” just because the actresses are already so established and loved (Winners Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz; nominee Kate Hudson).  I just love thinking about these types of situations because it means a lot of great performances and movies – who doesn’t want that?

BEST BET FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Director (Jason Reitman), Best Actor (George Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Anna Kendrick and/or Vera Farmiga), Best Adapted Screenplay