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Leo vs. Ryan: Oscar's Golden Young Men?

If this year's Best Actress competition is the race of the sixty-somethings (Close vs. Streep) that most people are predicting with the films still sight unseen, what kind of shape will the corresponding male category take? Could we see a race between 30-somethings in a sort of reverse age scenario of what normally occurs with actresses winning young and actors winning as soon as they have a gray hair or fifty.

Leo frets. It's not always good news to be the early unarguable frontrunner.

As an Oscar pundit I'm always trying to roll different scenarios on my tongue to see how they taste. How about this: What if this year's race is between Leonardo DiCaprio in J Edgar who will draw strength both from his past Oscar history and from AMPAS Official Favorite Genre (the biopic) and Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March? Gosling will be propped up by last year's Blue Valentine snub, his sure to be iconic character in Drive, and his general quickly achieved status as THE best of his generation...on this side of the Atlantic at least. I assume Michael Fassbender is just warming up. And what if the vote siphoning ingredient is not Clooney or Fassbender or whomever but Cannes Best Actor winner Jean DuJardin in The Artist?

I know most people have called this one for Leo despite  J Edgar being sight unseen and Clint Eastwood's Oscar appeal slightly faded. On paper (Oscar weight paper), yes he looks unstoppable. That's especially true because if Gosling proves his main competition, well, Gosling is very young still for Oscar votes being only one year older at this writing as the youngest Best Actor winner ever (Adrien Brody, The Pianist). But I always hesitate to assume that we know winners before we have seen virtually any of the competitive work. I mean, would fans of other young movie giants of their day ever assume that Paul Newman or Al Pacino or Peter O'Toole or whomever would have to wait as long as they did or are? Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, both as big as Leo, are still waiting, too.

Nothing is certain until it's already happened.

As for Supporting Actor, The Ides of March is the big reigning question mark in the same way that The Help (previous posts) is for the ladies with multiple appealing choices for voters. The political drama has three former Oscar nominees, two of them winners, all circling 'round and talking at Ryan Gosling in the actor friendly piece. Who will voters favor: showy Philip Seymour Hoffman, subtle (at least in comparison) Paul Giamatti, or charismatic George Clooney?

Make your wild guesses now! Soon the movies are upon us. Wheeee

UPDATED PREDICTIONS: Index | Picture | Director | Actor | Supporting Actor 

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Reader Comments (26)

and Clint Eastwood's Oscar appeal slightly faded.

I don't see that, personally. Eastwood was nominated for Director and Picture as recently as 2007, and his last few films have scored multiple nominations, even if not wins. And he's directed four Oscar-winning performances in the last decade, double what anyone else has accomplished in the same period.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSC

SC -- well, it's faded compared to what it was i mean. each year people predict whatever film he's made to score multiple nods and the reviews and the nominations have been slowly dropping. Hereafter barely getting any attention and not the automatic "classic!" reviews he was getting for awhile just by waking up in the morning.

I think J Edgar is a safe bet -- don't get me wrong -- but he hasn't been an obvious default nominee since Iwo Jima and even that was ambitious and about their favorite subject (WWII)

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I'd like to see Gosling nom'ed again! I'm also interested to see if Woody Harrleson gets any buzz at TIFF for Rampart... possible nod?

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPat

It probably doesn't mean much, but I think the billing on the poster for CARNAGE (the two women, then the two men) might signify that they're all going lead. If they do divvy them up, though, I have no doubt it'll be Foster & Reilly in lead and Winslet & Waltz (who would be sure-fire nominees) in supporting.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I think your choices for best actor are terrific... but you need to put george clooney's picture up where you have placed a second ryan gosling.... is that a wish for gosling to win??????

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I am really not feeling it for Clint or Leo this year. I really don't know why, knowing not that much about the film, but I'm guessing this is the sort of biopic that the Oscars don't really go for. I mean, there are a lot of biopics which I think are decent, and which seem to know how to have fun and add an interesting perspective (e.g. Milk, King's Speech, and Frost/Nixon), and then there are the sort of serious biopics which solemnly recount their serious subject's important lives (Invictus is the first one that comes to mind here!) and seem more likely to be overlooked. Whatever their strengths, Clint and Leo both seem to take themselves and their movies pretty seriously, and adding in the fact it's about J Edgar Hoover, I'm thinking this is going to be tough sledding. I don't know that Oscar goes for it.

Plus, Clint's run of genuflected genius is way over. Gran Torino, Hereafter, Changeling, and Invictus were all Oscar bait that weren't. Maybe people think he's making them too fast. (One can hope.)

I'd secretly love to see Oldman shoot up to the top a la Firth last year. (And if enough people secretly would love for that, he will!)

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

I think this is a likely battle to occur, Nathaniel. Gosling's 2011 is a great year for him, between CSL, TIOM, and Drive. (Y'all can figure out those acronyms. It's not that challenging :P.) TIOM seems like the most "regular" of the roles, so to speak, but at the same time, perhaps that will appeal to some of the voters. They love Clooney's classic movie style, and GNAGL was an excellent film.

I also feel like has it'll be a pinch of Michael Clayton, in terms of tone and whatnot. Point being that even though Swinton and Wilkinson were more colorful characters, Clooney still got attention for that film. I think the same could happen for Gosling. And hopefully, last year's snub helps him there. He at least deserves a second nomination after being unjustly snubbed for Lars and the Real Girl (and Blue Valentine, of course).


As for DiCaprio, I feel that this early on, he's the only Best Actor contender I feel confident has locked in the nomination. I just don't see him being snubbed. Maybe if the film continues the pattern you mentioned, Nate, he won't win. But he's in a biopic. C'mon now. I've been thinking the Academy might decide it's time for him to win this year though, portraying a conflicted, tragic character like J. Edgar Hoover. And his "alleged gayness" (both homosexuality...and the cross-dressing :P) should help matters as well. I have been outspoken in the past about Eastwood being overrated, but it seems it was just a high point. Now I'm not so bothered, haha. And objectively, I think this could be a welcoming back for him in the Academy, with another Director and Picture nod.

As for the other nominees, my biggest hope is that Gordon-Levitt manages to get a Juno-esque nomination. He looks terrific--both comedic and dramatic, and that often plays well. It all depends how well they campaign him and the film. Here's hoping. I'd love to see Dujardin get a nod as well. If all four of the above are Best Actor nominees, I couldn't care less whom the fifth is...even if it's Clooney for The Descendants, which I have a hunch might be awful and overestimated. So I'm hoping it'll be someone like Fassbender or Oldman. But most likely, I'll just have to deal with this wannabe hybrid of Up in the Air and Sideways.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterePastorJames

If Gosling won and I saw him around the neighborhood (yeah, go ahead and be jealous), I would ask to see the oscar and assume he had it with him because thats what I would do.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex BBats

That "Ides of March" trailer has me pushing all my chips in on PSH. Nothing can be a lock this early, but he is TOTALLY in. I think we're all overrating Hammer in a James-Franco-in-Milk way, and having seen "Warrior," I don't think you need Nolte on your board at all. Not an Oscar movie/performance.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Reid

George Clooney is looking a lot like Ryan Gosling.


August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSilencio

Wait, did something just happen where Paul Giamatti was referred to as subtle? Are we sure we want to go there, even for sake of comparison?

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Nick -- I felt like apologizing immediately after typing it. But, you know,...

August 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

One movie that I think is really flying under the radar is On the Road. Because it is my very favorite book of all time, I want the adaptation to be good, and the material seems right up Walter Salles' alley, considering the similarities to The Motorcycle Diaries, which was very well received. What are your thoughts Nat?

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

or Gary Oldman for this british movie with Firth ,Hardy and so many british great actors

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercaro

Sawyer - On the Road is a 2012 release.

Re: this year, assuming the work is as good as I assume it will be, I'm all about Oldman. He's one of the best actors around - period - has been for a couple decades, and deserves the recognition.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Ah, so it is. Didn't realize it had gotten bumped.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I don't feel J Edgar, too, you all know how much I love Eastwood. Clint is much better in little movies and short stories, like The Bridges of Madison County, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. He is a very tender and intimist director. When he tries to chew too much, we find ourselves seeing things like Changeling and Flags of Our Fathers. Keep it low profile, Clint.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

And I am dying to see Branagh and Olivier. He's been chasing this role since ever. He made versions of the same plays Olivier filmed (and better versions, I'd say), like Henry V and Hamlet, then he directs a remake of Sleuth... Branagh is so talented!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I echo the desire for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to get a nod for 50/50.
He has been amazing (Mysterious Skin), and very good (500 Days of Summer).
And he looks good in the trailer. I don't know the possibility of it, but I guess at least another GG nod is in order...

Leo is a lock for a nomination, very possible that he'll win.

Ryan BETTER be nominated. Still don't get his snub for Lars and the Real Girl when he had the GG and SAG noms, and the snub for Blue Valentine hurt -- shoulda been there in place of Jeff Bridges.

And please no Phillip Seymour Hoffman.......

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Leo will shit his pants if a former member of the Mickey Mouse Club wins before he does. :)

I think Gosling is the more versatile and more popular at the moment, but I love them both and hope they both get in, assuming the performances are as good as we're expecting.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly French

@Philip: Marry me! [/Maeby] PSH is so unworthy of sharing a forename with you.

As aforementioned, my case for a possible scenario involving JGL is a seemingly weaker Best Actor field. (Just like in 2006, interestingly enough.) But there's also the role itself. Before feedback poured in, I'd never have imagined Page to get past Spirits. But lo and behold, anything is possible.

And hell fucking yes, Gosling deserves another nod. Honestly, this would be his fifth by now from me: The Believer, Half Nelson, Lars and the Real Girl (*Win*), Blue Valentine, and I'm going to predict for favoring Drive overall, but anything can surely change. I loved that you singled out Bridges: what a waste of a slot. At least Williams made it in though.

And I'd be ecstatic if PSH was never nominated again. I loved him in The Savages, but his Doubt performance was disgusting. Kind of hoping they go for Giamatti instead somehow....

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterePastorJames

Ugh, damn iTouch autocapitalization! Tested out which is better: 'i' or 'em'--better stick with the latter, fellow iPod typists who are OCD about italicizing film titles.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterePastorJames

ePastor -- i fixed for you because I am that kind of blog host.

holly -- so true! I wonder how well liked Leo is in hollywood. You never really know how well these massive stars are liked from their peers.

Philip -- always remember: there can be no locks before anyone has seen a single minute of footage ;)

August 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ahhh.....I hope J. Edgar is really great, but who knows? I doubt it will be all that popular although maybe many will wish to see it for a kiss between Leo and Armie. Hell, I don't know. I think Leo has been snubbed more than Ryan personally.....great in Revolutionary Road and The Departed (yes, his Blood Diamond perf was pretty good but inferior to the latter--leave it to Hollywood oldsters to go for an accent) and Shutter Island, imo. My prediction is that if Leo nails the old Hoover, make-up be damned, he will own the oscar. But the critics will likely go for the currently cooler Ryan over Leo, who hasn't exactly been an over-the-moon critics fave since his early days.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersheila kind

I'm thinking Oldman will sneak in. But I have ridiculous hopes for Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy, based on the phenomenal marketing thus far (perfect trailer, poster) and the acclaimed book.

re: Lars and the Real Girl

That film should be buried at the bottom of the ocean. I doubt I'll ever be a true Gosling believer, and that's why.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Awww....Ryan had some nice moments in Lars, touching even. Still I agree that I never quite understood why people were gaga over it. It's a decent movie about an oddball.....kinda trying to be like Harvey (you know, the movie with Jimmy Stewart), but not quite succeeding. I look forward to seeing Ryan turn into the cool guy, like Steve McQueen, with Drive.

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersheila kind
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