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87th Oscars. The Oscar Contenders of 2014 - For prediction, discussion and entertainment purposes only. This is not a endorsement of quality work, especially since no one has seen the pictures yet!

 discuss on the blog

Predictions as of October 25th
There seem to be 17 men in the hunt. Crazy, right?
Eddie Redmayne
never nominated
Theory of Everything
(Focus Features)
Nov 7th
Michael Keaton
never nominated
Birdman
(Fox Searchlight)
Oct 17th
Benedict Cumberbatch
never nominated
Imitation Game
(Weinstein Co)
Nov 21st
Steve Carell
never nominated
Foxcatcher
(SPC)
Nov 17th

Channing Tatum
never nominated
Foxcatcher
(SPC)
Nov 17th

Oscar loves almost nothing more than disabilities in the lead actor category. And biopics make them horny. It's a physically demanding part portraying Hawkings deteriorating physical abilities
He didn't win much traction for Les Miz

Amazing fusion of actor and role. And they're already pushing hard. But no prizes at Venice and Oscar doesn't always "get" meta triumphs. Consider that they didn't nominate John Malkovich for Being John Malkovich  

Oscar likes to rubber stamp stars that the general public already likes if they have the right opportunity and this meaty WWII biopic role should do the trick. The response to the film in Toronto is a major step towards Oscar

 
Steve has the showy "transformative role" as a schizophrenic with a prosthetic nose. It's either brilliant chameleon work or labored mimicry depending on your pov of the movie but it's the exact kind of things that makes voters take notice. On the other hand Channing Tatum is at an ideal place in his career for a first recognition and is brilliant with a tough character to play with such nuance. Might we have our first double Best Actor nom since 1984 

 

Looking Like Strong Contenders, Too
Ralph Fiennes
2 nominations
Grand Budapest Hotel
(Fox Searchlight)
March 28th 

David Oyelowo
never nominated
Selma
(Paramount)
Dec 25th

Chadwick Boseman
never nominated
Get On Up
(Universal)
Aug 1st

Jack O'Connell
never nominated
Unbroken
(Universal)
Dec 25th

Oscar Isaac
never nominated
A Most Violent Year
(A24)
Dec 31st

Fiennes pushes his inner prestige into silliness (while maintaining his refined elegance somehow) and helped make this one of the year's surprise hits. Isn't it high time Fiennes was invited back?

It's a plum noble real person role (Martin Luther King) for a rising very talented actor. But Oyelowo is definitely underfamous for this particular category particularly this year when it's so stacked. Might be hard to win a nod. 

Oscar worships performances of music icons and James Brown is a fun part. Yet, despite Chadwick's heavy lifting (and sweating) this will probably be on the "lightweight" side for Oscar. The movie's reviews aren't great.

He's already won raves for Starred Up and '71 on the fest circuit and the Angelina Jolie WWII film will be widely seen. But at 24 he's very young for Oscar's acting branch. And there are lots of "real life" roles in competition this year which could negate their competitive advantage

A rising star who could well have goodwill left over from his amazing work in Inside Llewyn Davis. This movie could be a sleeper hit/critical darling given JC Chandor's rise in the director's chair. 

When Competition is This Fierce Who Knows?
Jake Gyllenhaal
1 nomination
Nightcrawler
(Open Road)
Oct 31st
Bradley Cooper
2 nominations
American Sniper
(Warner Bros)
Dec 25th 
Miles Teller
never nominated
Whiplash
(Sony Pictures Classics)
Oct 10th
Timothy Spall
never nominated
Mr Turner
(SPC)
Dec 19th

Joaquin Phoenix
3 nominations
Inherent Vice
(Warner Bros)
Dec 12th

Another "transformation" Jake lost a lot of weight to play this crazed crime scene photographer. Another impressive performance from Jake but the movie might be too small dark weird and cynical for Oscar traction?

And another transformation, bulking up to play this deadly sniper. He's popular right now with nominations in the past two years. And he'll also be on Broadway during voting in The Elephant Man and if that's a critical triumph, that certainly won't hurt his cause. 

With Whiplash still ascending -- and its fans completely devout -- a Best Picture nomination is within the realm of possibility. Can Miles & JK both be nominated?

Mike Leigh gets sensational performances from his actors and he grunts out this eccentric painter role to rave reviews. He won Cannes and Best Actor is one of the only Cannes prizes with anything like Oscar overlap. Buzz has cooled and that very late release might not be enough to warm it back up.

He's so esteemed as an actor who follows his own muse now that he will always be considered -- and he is very funny in the movie. But funny doesn't always cut it in leading categories. 

Impossibly Wide Selection of Possibilities This Year. Precursors will be even more important than usual

Other Leads This Year

Brad Pitt - Fury
James Corden - Into the Woods
Ben Affleck - Gone Girl
Christian Bale -
Exodus: Gods & Kings
Robert Downey Jr
- The Judge
Tom Hardy - Locke
Tommy Lee Jones
- The Homesman
Alfred Molina & John Lithgow- Love is Strange
Gael Garcia Bernal - Rosewater
Bill Hader - The Skeleton Twins (Gotham Nod) 

Bill Murray
1 nomination
St. Vincent
(Weinstein Co)
Oct 24th
Matthew McConaughey
1 nom | 1 win
Interstellar
(Paramount/WB)
Nov 7th
TIFF actually gave him a whole "Bill Murray Day" for the premiere. The film won't be an awards biggie but if Oscar is feeling sentimental it's the kind of lead role (originally intended for Oscar's favorite Jack Nicholson) that could do the trick. Afterglow nominations are notoriously hard to predict. Sometimes they want the person back for a victory lap even if it makes no sense otherwise. Other times they take long breaks. An emotional turn in a big contender would make this more likely the former if this year weren't so competitive.