Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2014, part 2: acting categories

Hello again! I'm back after an eventful day of movies yesterday (I saw The Revenant and The Hateful Eight, and, spoiler alert, neither will really be featuring in my best of the year lists. Yeesh.) to yammer on about pretty famous people for a bit. And why are we even on this good green Earth if not to yammer about the rich and fancy? So today will talk about the acting categories, aka the categories with people who regular moviegoers recognize (but for those of you who don't say things like "you go Sandy Powell" or "get some, Edward Lachmann!" or "Aw HELLS yes Jack Fisk!" on Oscar morning, just know that you're missing out).

Best Actor
What a tragic, uninspired category this is, stuffed to the gills with sort of passable work, I guess, that's been shoehorned into one awards conversation after another because everyone has generally agreed that this is a relatively weak year for lead male performances. Granted, when they say that, what they mean is that it's been a weak year for lead male performances in the sort of big, Oscar-friendly movies that are normally nominated in this category, which says nothing about all of the great work that's being done in indies/foreign films/etc, but hey. So who gets in? The Internet can finally gratefully un-knot their underwear, because it looks like Leonardo Dicaprio will be getting an Oscar for The Revenant--deserving is a thing we can discuss, but everyone has collectively convinced themselves that Dicaprio needs an Oscar, so here we are. Likely to be joining him in the #2 and #3 spots on the podium are Michael Fassbender's work in Steve Jobs and Matt Damon's silly potato shenaniganry in The Martian. So that leaves two slots. Who might get in?

Steve Carell-The Big Short: I haven't seen this movie yet, so I don't know how offended I should be that we're considering this, but The Big Short has been coming on like gangbusters recently, so this could very well be a nomination we see.
Bryan Cranston-Trumbo: People love Bryan Cranston, and for whatever reason Trumbo keeps showing up at awards show after awards show, so I'm feeling pretty confident about this one.
Johnny Depp-Black Mass: he might get points for the "hey look, he's playing kind of a human being instead of a wacky ridiculous caricature abomination!" thing, but Black Mass has been losing a ton of juice lately, so who knows?
Eddie Redmayne-The Danish Girl: a pretty uninspiring performance in a film not many people like, so why are we still talking about this? Great question. Voters get lazy and vote for the things they think they're supposed to, I guess.

Possible spoilers include Will Smith in Concussion, Michael B. Jordan in Creed, and Ian McKellen in Mr. Holmes, but I really don't expect to hear any of their names come nomination morning.

My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Leonardo Dicaprio-The Revenant
Michael Fassbender-Steve Jobs
Matt Damon-The Martian
Bryan Cranston-Trumbo
Johnny Depp-Black Mass
Alternates: Eddie Redmayne-The Danish Girl, Steve Carell-Steve Jobs

Best Actress
This category (like supporting actress) is a bit of a mess this year, so let's start with what we do know: I'm pretty certain that Brie Larson in Room, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, and Cate Blanchett in Carol are golden. The other two spots are considerably muddier, due mostly to the fact that voters have been having trouble deciding in which category two performances actually belong. Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl and Rooney Mara in Carol have been nominated in both lead and supporting categories for the past few months (despite the fact that both women are arguably the protagonists of their films), and both performances are fantastic and very much in the awards mix, which means that either woman could show up here, or in supporting actress, or not at all. And trying to pick where they'll end up is a bit of a bear. So assuming these two delightful women stop screwing with our minds and go supporting, who else has got a shot?

Jennifer Lawrence-Joy: for whatever reason, critics dogpiled this movie, so that's a con, but Academy Award voters are, like the rest of us, besotted like giddy little schoolgirls with Jennifer Lawrence. So that's a pro.
Charlotte Rampling-45 Years: she's an acting legend, she's never been nominated, and she's allegedly great in the movie. The only problem? Legend, never nominated, and great sometimes just don't do it for the Academy--particularly when you're an older actress.
Charlize Theron-Mad Max: Fury Road: I know, I'm as dazzled as you are, but this performance has been gaining steam. That being said, since I'm not predicting this movie in best picture, I'm pretty reluctant to predict it in other big categories like this one.

Here's the deal--I'm pretty sure one of the lead/supporting/wackiness girls will make it here, and the other will be in supporting. But which is which? Great question.

My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Brie Larson-Room
Saoirse Ronan-Brooklyn
Cate Blanchett-Carol
Charlotte Rampling-45  Years
Alicia Vikander-The Danish Girl
Alternates: Rooney Mara-Carol, Jennifer Lawrence-Joy

Best Supporting Actor
Ugh, what a poop tornado and a half this one is. One thing's for sure: Mark Rylance's tetchy, amusingly taciturn spy in Bridge of Spies is going to make it for sure (and probably win). Otherwise? Throw some darts, because this category is a confounding display of uncertainty and silliness. I'm just going to vomit up some ill-founded opinions and see what happens. The contenders:

Christian Bale-The Big Short: I'd never have seen this coming, but people love The Big Short apparently, which just might win best picture, and if it does, then it's got to get some other nominations, and Christian Bale's been nominated for a woefully mediocre performance before (American Hustle).
Idris Elba-Beasts of No Nation: here's the question--can Netflix movies get Oscars? It's a tough call. It's a well deserved nomination, and the role is showy and big and perfect for Oscar, but I'm having a little trouble believing that the Hollywood equivalent of our grandmothers are going to want to start chucking shiny golden hardware at the feisty internet start-ups.
Michael Keaton-Spotlight: a possible best picture winner with a starry ensemble cast--and the ensemble part could be this nomination's downfall, because no one can agree which guy is the film's standout performance. So this could happen (partly as a 'we're sorry you didn't win for Birdman nomination), or he could fall victim to all the other fine performances in his movie.
Mark Ruffalo-Spotlight: speaking of, here's the guy that could do it--particularly because his performance is louder and tic-ier and more obviously Acting (with a capital A) than Keaton's.
Michael Shannon-99 Homes: I can't believe that Rahmin Bahrani's tiny little indie could find itself at the Oscars, but I bet Dorothy probably made snide little jokes about Oz before she got there too.
Sylvester Stallone-Creed: don't laugh, but Stallone could honestly win this thing if he gets nominated--the trouble is getting nominated for a film that's unfortunately sunk like a rock at the precursor awards.
Jacob Tremblay-Room: the Academy doesn't love nominating little boys (and Tremblay is 8), but if the film is a bigger player than I think it is, he'll easily get in.

My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Mark Rylance-Bridge of Spies
Christian Bale-The Big Short
Idris Elba-Beasts of No Nation
Sylvester Stallone-Creed
Mark Ruffalo-Spotlight
Alternates: Jacob Tremblay-Room, Michael Keaton-Spotlight

Best Supporting Actress
Hey, remember how in best actress we had ladies who could be in both categories? Well, shockingly, all the same arguments I had for Vikander and Mara up there also apply down here. I've got an advantage down here, though: I've already predicted Vikander for The Danish Girl to be nominated in best actress, so she can't very well be nominated here, can she? Which means that this category is owned by Rooney Mara. So if she's in, who else? Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight (for reasons I just can't fathom) seem safe. Which gives us two spots.

Jane Fonda-Youth: she's Jane Fonda, for crying out loud, and she hasn't been nominated in 18 years. Buuuuut she's in a film no one likes, and she's only in it for six minutes. It's a toss-up.
Rachel McAdams-Spotlight: Remember how all the boys in Spotlight kept stealing each other's votes? Since McAdams is the only girl with a significant speaking role in Spotlight, she doesn't have that problem. And there's no easier way to Oscar than being the only girl in a male-dominated best picture frontrunner.
Helen Mirren-Trumbo: Ugh, I can't even with this. If this happens I'll never stop crying.
Kristen Stewart-Clouds of Sils Maria: don't laugh. I'll defend her plenty when it comes to my annual best of the year lists, so for now I'll just say that she's won more supporting actress critics prizes this year than almost anyone else, and she absolutely deserves the nod more than most of the other women I've mentioned.
Alicia Vikander-Ex Machina: call it the year of Vikander. If her Danish Girl performance goes lead, that clears the way for this showy role winning a place here--and honestly, even if her Danish Girl performance stays supporting, I think she'll still get the nomination for this film instead.

My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Rooney Mara-Carol
Kate Winslet-Steve Jobs
Jennifer Jason Leigh-The Hateful Eight
Alicia Vikander-Ex Machina
Rachel McAdams-Spotlight
Alternates: Alicia Vikander-The Danish Girl, Helen Mirren-Trumbo

Take that, brevity! If you're still reading this, you're a trooper. Well done. If you can stomach any more, tomorrow I'll be back to gleefully stride your nightmares like a colossus and discuss directing/screenplays.

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