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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 Sept 25th
Eddie Redmayne
never nominated
Theory of Everything
(Focus Features)
Nov 7th
Benedict Cumberbatch
never nominated
Imitation Game
(Weinstein Co)
Nov 21st

Michael Keaton
never nominated
Birdman
(Fox Searchlight)
Oct 17th

Steve Carell
never nominated
Foxcatcher
(SPC)
Nov 17th

David Oyelowo
never nominated
Selma
(Paramount)
Dec 25th

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

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

Reportedly 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  


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. 

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.

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

Channing Tatum
never nominated
Foxcatcher
(SPC)
Nov 17th

Bill Murray
1 nomination
St. Vincent
(Weinstein Co)
Oct 24th

Timothy Spall
never nominated
Mr Turner
(SPC)
Dec 19th

Jake Gyllenhaal
1 nomination
Nightcrawler
(Open Road)
Oct 31st

This may seem like a strange pairing but let's group them under NOMINATIONS THAT WOULD THRILL NATHANIEL for the moment because both are really pushing themselves in atypical but acclaimed roles in terms of  Oscar traction. Fiennes pushes his inner prestige into silliness (while maintaining his refined elegance somehow) and Channing robs his charming meathead masculinity of its charm and confidence to play this troubled inarticulate wrestler. It's a deeply competitive year but isn't high time Fiennes was invited back and isn't it time to recognize Channing Tatum's ascendance?

TIFF actually gave him a whole "Bill Murray Day" for the premiere. They say 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 win him a nod

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. But the year is crowded and the buzz has cooled and that very late release might not be enough to warm it back up.

Another "transformation" Jake lost a lot of weight to play this crazed crime scene photographer. At TIFF people were nuts about this performance (and the film). But is it too twitchy and weird for Oscar traction?

Could They Rally Just in Time in the End?
Joaquin Phoenix
3 nominations
Inherent Vice
(Warner Bros)
TBA
Jack O'Connell
never nominated
Unbroken
(Universal)
Dec 25th
Chadwick Boseman
never nominated
Get On Up
(Universal)
Aug 1st
Brad Pitt
nominations
Fury
(Columbia)
Oct 17th 

Oscar Isaac
never nominated
A Most Violent Year
(A24)
TBA

He's so esteemed as an actor who follows his own muse now that he will always be considered but this movie has so many colorful characters... maybe someone else steals the show?

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

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 won his first Oscar last year (for producing 12 Years a Slave) but with Angelina Jolie so present this year in cinema, they may want both of them around. Advance word for Fury is strong... even though it could just be hype rather than true buzz.

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. On the other hand, no promotion of it yet. A late breaking surprise or 2015?

OTHER LEADS THIS YEAR

Bradley Cooper - American Sniper | Ben Affleck - Gone Girl | Christian Bale - Exodus: Gods & Kings
Robert Downey Jr
- The Judge | Tom Hardy - Locke | Matthew McConaughey - Interstellar
Miles Teller - Whiplash | Tommy Lee Jones - The Homesman | Matthew McConaughey - Interstellar
Matthias Schoenaerts - Suite Francaise

Just Fell Out of Chart. Too Competitive This Year
Andy Serkis -
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | Alfred Molina - Love is Strange
John Lithgow - Love is Strange | Gael Garcia Bernal - Rosewater

Maybe 2015 at this point ???
Michael Fassbender
-MacBeth Tobey Maguire - Pawn Sacrifice John Hawkes - Lowdown
Jonah Hill - True Story Bradley Cooper - Serena Russell Crowe - The Water Diviner