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Best Actor Battles and Hugh Jackman's Oscar Obstacle

Though most of my Oscar prediction chart updates have to wait for today's screening of Zero Dark Thirty (eeeeeeee! Bring it, Bigelow) it was safe to go ahead and revamp the Best Actor chart since Jessica Chastain can't compete there without significant alternate universe alterations. The chart has all new text, new rankings, links to reviews and past articles, and thoughts on locks, dark horse campaign angles. There's also an extensive list of vote siphoners that probably won't factor in but for random ballots from their most ardent admirers. That doesn't mean they aren't worthy of attention. It never does and never will since "Best" will always remain in the eye of the beholder.

This weekend's debut of Les Misérables sent numerous industry professionals and media types (including myself) into a frenzy. (lots more after the jump)

The film has the truly epic scale and all-caps Artistry that AMPAS often seems created just to honor. Though Anne Hathaway is the film's surest best for Oscar glory, there's been a smaller flurry of excitment for a truly bold suggestion that Hugh Jackman will prove to be Daniel Day-Lewis's true rival for 2012 Best Actor glory. 

Frank Digiacoma at MovieLine writes:

Jackman gives his all in this movie, and his performance is a tour de force of passion in the same way that Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is a triumph of precision. At this point, the Best Actor race is all about them.

Many pundits would argue this isn't bold so much as obvious, given the ecstatic reception. I think it a bold suggestion not for its content (I absolutely believe it to be true IF he's nominated) but for the depressing possibility that he might not even be nominated. Best Actor can be an infuriatingly bland category and the Academy has not, as a general rule, been kind to male leads of musicals... a genre often viewed as "feminine" , however silly and retrograde that gender stereotype may be. In the 84 year history of the Oscars many male musical leads have been snubbed (including, recently, Ewan McGregor and Richard Gere in Best Picture nominees with plentiful nominations and Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine... though the latter was one of DDL's very infrequent critical misses) and only three have won Best Actor for musical roles:

  • James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  • Yul Brynner, The King and I (1956)
  • Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady (1964)

Hard boiled Cagney had the advantage of playing against type (a dependably strong Oscar hook) in a biopic (inarguably Oscar's favorite genre). Striking Brynner had considerable momentum having already played the role to über acclaim on stage and just impeccable timing since he was co-starring in another best picture blockbuster nominee (The Ten Commandments) that very same year, and finally Rex Harrison won at the peak of the form's popularity with Oscar voters. A Jackman win would put a happy end to a nearly half century drought for lead actors in musicals.

Joel Grey was the last man to win for a musical, 40 years ago.If you include Supporting Actors it's still a dire statistic in terms of win. No man has won for a musical role since Joel Grey in Cabaret (1972) and only six men have been nominated in either category in the 40 years since: Roy Scheider couldn't manage a win for All That Jazz (1979) and he had the advantage of celebrity biopic mimicry... though that was admittedly much less of an automatic Oscar draw in the 70s than it is now; Charles Durning couldn't win for his brilliant cameo in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas despite also adding wonderful notes to Tootsie and somehow the great Robert Preston in Victor/Victoria (1982) also lost that year; John C Reilly couldn't win for Chicago (2002) though co-starring in three Best Picture nominees that year undoubtedly secured that nomination to begin with; Eddie Murphy couldn't win despite an electric comeback performance in Dreamgirls (2006) that was obviously superior to the winning role; and finally Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd (2007) was lucky to be nominated and still riding momentum from his career peak in the mid Aughts.

All that said, Jackman's performance is a sensation, the role he was obviously born to play, and few Oscar statistics can hold forever. If Academy voters get antsy about handing Daniel Day Lewis more Best Actor Oscars than anyone else ever -- yes, even more than Jack Nicholson, their all time favorite actor --  we could see a thrilling end to a 40 year Oscar drought for men in musicals. Do you think he will? 

Assuming Hugh Jackman is as locked and loaded as Daniel, Denzel and Joaquin (a risky assumption) that leaves just one spot up for grabs in the shortlist. If Silver Linings' Bradley Cooper or Amour's Jean Louis Tritnigant can't rally as dark horse spoilers, does it go to John Hawkes in The Sessions or Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock? I'd love to hear your thoughts. It's trickier than you might think. Hawkes has better reviews (for the performance and the film) but neither movie has exactly set the world ablaze and if there's anything Oscar loves more than Best Actors With a Disability its Best Actors in Prosthetics Mimicking Famous People... particularly actors they already think the world of.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on which five men will hear their names called on January 10th and whether or not Hugh Jackman can end that 40 year drought for musical men.


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Reader Comments (72)

I still think it will be Daniel again. That performance was astonishing. but i can't wait for les miserables

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

After the DDL-Jackman-Denzel-Phoenix quartet, I think it's Hawkes for now, as the indie character actor favorite up against the four juggernauts. Nipping at his heels is Bradley Cooper, trying to overcome his Hangover, People magazine persona with an unexpectedly deep performance in a BP contender. I don't think Tritnigant and Amour will be seen enough (even Riva, with her exceptional reviews, may not get in), and reaction to Hitchcock has seemed too tepid to me to break Hopkins into such a competitive Actor field.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonny

Phoenix is feeling very Fassbender-in-Shame precarious to me. He's remaining on prediction lists due to the undeniability of the performance in spite of the difficulty of the film. Not a bad bet, of course: Fassbender surely came awfully close last year. I see DDL and Denzel as sure things, and like you, I see Jackman as quite likely, and maybe the man to take the gold. (It would be a nice touch for him to win with his Frost/Nixon duet partner). The last two spots are between Cooper, Phoenix, Hopkins and Hawkes, and it's hard to say who's ahead there.
It'll be a fun race to watch.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I see Hawkes over Hopkins. Despite Hopkins practically campaigning in the movie, Hawkes has the momentum from Winter's Bone nom while Hopkins hasn't been in the conversation for over a decade. Sessions has the better reviews and if actors see the clip of Hawkes talking about how he changed his voice and breathing they will vote for him.

I think there is a scenario for Phoenix not getting in. That movie seems far and gone, no? It could be just my indifference & dislike thats clouding my judgement.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

More important question - will he make it to the Film Bitch award?

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

My gut tells me that Phoenix is D.O.A. in the Best Actor category.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Held an Oscar

I think you've made a fine analysis and I believe Hugh Jackman can end that 40 year drought for musical men. (I took your words because I'm French). It's now or never. We can't compare his part as Jean Valjean to Gere's Billy Flynn. And Jackman lost 30 pounds for the role, and he became an old man with fake teeth, and he is a Broadway star, and he was a perfect host for the ceremony and ... Everybody love him..... Fingers crossed.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane Goodale

Interesting to see people doubting Phoenix - I'm wondering about that. Hawkes and Phoenix both have supporting co-stars in the running as well, so I'm wondering if even Denzel could be in trouble. Day-Lewis is the only one where I can't imagine a scenario where he's out. It sounds like Jackman has a much better shot than I anticipated though, and I would love to see those two battle for the prize. (I'm not taking Hopkins or Tritnigant that seriously for now, though that might be silly on my part - Tritnigant especially strikes me as someone who could show up on Oscar morning with no precursors.)

It is also interesting looking at Actor vs. Actress - totally night and day. Hollywood really needs find more female-centric films. It's embarrassing at this point.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Sir Anthony Hopkins said: "I've got the Oscar myself for "Silence of the Lambs" -- and having to be nice to people and to be charming and flirting with them ... oh, come on! People go out of their way to flatter the nominating body and I think it's kind of disgusting. That's always been against my nature. You're not alone; more and more, it seems like a lot of actors want the work to speak for itself. I do, too. You know, kissing the backside of the authorities that can make or break it; I can't stand all that. I find it nauseating to watch and I think it's disgusting to behold. People groveling around and kissing the backsides of famous producers and all that. It makes me want to throw up, it really does. It's sick-making. I've seen it so many times. I saw it fairly recently, last year. Some great producer-mogul and everyone kisses this guy's backside. I think, "What are they doing? Don't they have any self respect?" I wanted to say, "F.u.ck* off." (statement suicide nomination from: Huffington Post) - 1 contenders

Joaquin Phoenix said: I think it's total, utter bulls--t, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other ... It's the stupidest thing in the whole world." (statement suicide nomination from: Huffington Post) - 2 contenders

Anyway, Jackman is one of the most talented (and humble) performers around, equally at home on film and on stage, he’s the only one who can keep up with the greatest actors of the Hollywood golden age. As an actor/performer, he has shown his dramatic acting range, his ability to generate excitement in intensely physical roles, and now the film genre will see his much vaunted musical theatre talent for which he won two Tony Awards. This is a fact that just incompetents and dumb haters would persist in denying, it’s time that people stop underestimating an actor of such versatility like him. If the Academy did not yet realized, it’s better that they change job.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I do think Hugh Jackman has a better shot at winning than Daniel Day-Lewis. Winning a third, especially the leading categories, is very difficult. Day-Lewis has deservedly won his second a few years ago. Jackman has a lot going for him i.e. iconic role, tearjerker, weight loss, etc. And it helps that he already hosted the Oscars with his memorable opening song-and-dance routine.

I really can't imagine Day-Lewis winning right now unless the top critics organizations, Golden Globes, and SAG all rally for him.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkent

I think Bradley and Anthony will make it to round out Hugh, Daniel and Denzel.

Jackman may be in a weak spot with a musical, but he was one of Oscar's most popular hosts, with almost no negative reviews AND the voters will remember that.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Don´t forget that Jackman is loved by everybody. Like literally, everybody. Actors, producers, directors, viewers, critics...even when he is in a bad movie, only a few of the critics dare to touch him in their reviews. I think he will get nominated. If he wins, I don´t know, but I can see him in the top 5.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElla

There's been other years too when an actor/ actress has a good shot at winning IF they are nominated. The nomination seems harder than the win. To me, Jackman seems like an obvious nomination, and a welcome well-deserved one.

My guess would be the top 4: DDL, Jackman, Phoenix, Hawkes, with the last spot up for grabs. My personal choice would be the great Jean-Louis Trintignant.

I'm hesitant about the group accord for Denzel Washington. He already has two Oscars, and the last one, for Training Day, seems like it was forced through, an over-reward for a good performance. Why do that again, when you could nominate terrific actors who have never won or never been nominated instead?

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Of the movies I have seen I really thought Hawkes did a sensational job...

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

As one tweeter said, it will come down to the precision of DDL vs the emotionalism of Jackman. I've kept it simple with why Hugh Jackman was created for this role, exactly why he deserves to win, why he will go on being a gift to the rest of us even if he doesn't: http://jamiesplace.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/64/

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

This year's lead actor category is just ridiculously stacked. If I could nominated Phoenix, Hoffman (really a lead), Day-Lewis, Hawkes, Washington, Cooper, AND Lerman in one category, I totally would. Heck, even Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi" gives a wonderful performance. There's just too much to choose from!

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

Your point that the Oscars don't like male musical theater performances as much as female ones is well taken, Nathaniel, but I'm not sure I agree with the argument that he'll either win or be snubbed altogether. That presumes a world of black and white (that there's either so much love for Jackman that he can't walk away empty-handed or that too many voters are anti-musical to get him a nom) rather than a world of gray (where there could be enough Jackman support to get him the nom but too many anti-musical folks to get him the win). Given the overwhelming response this weekend, it would seem like a nomination but no win is the most likely outcome if the Academy is as anti-males-in-musicals as you say.

I'll predict: DDL, Jackman, Denzel, Phoenix, and Hopkins. The Sessions seems to be fading while Hopkins has Mirren to anchor him in the race.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Also, I cannot believe that Denzel Washington is 57. I thought you had made a mistake! I hope I look that good at that age.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I don't see Jackman winning many critics' prizes, but I don't think it will matter. He'll definitely win the Golden Globe in the Comedy/Musical category, and I think SAG and BAFTA are both very possible if Les Miz goes over well with both groups (which it will). I'm not saying he'll win for sure since it's obviously too early to be calling that in such a competitive year, but at this point, I would be surprised if it were not either Hugh Jackman or Daniel Day-Lewis, so yeah, the race is on.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Jackman, Pheonix, Day-Lewis, Washington, Hawkes

Jackman's & Hathaway"s win will suffice for Tom Hooper not winning Director(god help me if he wins) or Picture. Affleck is going to win one or both of those awards.

Pheonix is in tight second because he gave an amazing performance and they might be afraid, although ready, to reward Anderson for his weakest film (arguably) so they'll toss him an actor prize. (although I'm sad about it in a general sense of oscar over-dueness, but not in terms of the quality of this film, Anderson is not winning screenplay or director)

Day-Lewis = duh, but not ready for third oscar, duh, even if he's the best actor ever.

Washington = welcome back but your super famous and have been making mediocre movies so the nomination is enough. He and everyone knows it, plus his performance wasn't as great as others, (Pheonix was a superior alcoholic) even though its good.

Hawkes because he's the man to like and a superb - representing indie - performance. Plus they already rewarded Hopkins correctly (lightning struck), so they feel good about that, and he's had a spotty-quality yet consistent career since.

As for Cooper, paaaaleeease...this movie will only set him up for being nominated in the future - Playbook merely makes him a contender, washing away his unlikability to a degree.

Can I say that in a year of Speilberg, Tarantino, Lee, Anderson, Affleck, O'Russell, Heneke and other greats, please please let the Academy do their 'rewarding for over-dueness' rather than give Hooper another Oscar. I just rewatched Social Network so I'm extremely bitter about the subject..

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlil B

I'm hesitant about the group accord for Denzel Washington. He already has two Oscars, and the last one, for Training Day, seems like it was forced through, an over-reward for a good performance. Why do that again, when you could nominate terrific actors who have never won or never been nominated instead?

What's the problem? Denzel Washington is a perennial. You don't have to like it but it's true and he'll secure a sixth nomination and I don't believe at anyone's substantial expense. I want Phoenix to win because he never eclipse his work in The Master. If they want to hand a man a 3rd statuette I'm team Denzel or in the case of Supp Actor team De Niro. Again another perennial. You don't have to like it but the Academy prides itself over their favorites making comebacks. Even when it's the nomination is the win cases (Glenn Close this year). Like Jessica Lange who was passed over for career best performances—they shotgun it for their pet cause (Scent of a Woman, Blue Sky, Training Day and most recent The Iron Lady).

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

My prediction: DDL, Jackman, Trintignant, Cooper and Hopkins.

(Still hoping that Schoenaerts or Mikkelsen can get in the mix.)

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

Washington will probably get nominated for "Flight".

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

This reminds me of Sandra Bullock's win (and at first we didn't think she'd be nominated either). Will we give Meryl another Oscar? (Yes - it got remedied a few years later). But we'll give it to Sandra for a blockbuster year and we just like her. EVERYONE loves Hugh. Same kind of persona as Sandra and he could indeed beat Day-Lewis.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

After last year, I think Oscar will be kind to a super star performance again, so I think Jackman has a good shot.

But, in best actor, critics are still very important, and I don't see Jackman winning a lot of prizes. DuJardin was a superstar, too, but it was a surprise attack, the movie was foreign, silent... Jackman may be stellar, but I just don't see it.

In a year like this, I see them going all over the place, but if the go for Phoenix, for example, we may have a threat for the win. Same goes for Hawkes.

I think it's Jackman for the win, unless critics unite behind one of the contenders, specially Hawkes and Phoenix.

I don't believe in a third Oscar for DDL. (And I'd personally root for Denzel Washington to win 3).

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Look at the numbers for this weekend box office! Im so pleased!

Skyfall is neck and neck with Twilight. Lincoln increasing from last weekend, Life of Pie with a solid debut, Flight is stabil and Argo is just one day from 100 mill mark

So according the B.O it looks like the Americans do have a cinematic taste after all

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Sorry Joseph, but Hugh Jackman is way better then Bullock!!!

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterferdi

Ah, Jamie Foxx in Ray...

Anyway, of the performances I've seen so far, I'd say that Denzel and DDL are locks, and that Hawkes and Phoenix are the strongest of the other contenders. Cooper and Hopkins are very good, but I'm not feeling the films around them as Oscar-y enough (and the world seems to disagree with me about Silver Linings). Schoenaerts and Trintignant should be in the mix, but I doubt it.

After I see the performances of Jackman and Waltz next week, I'll be better informed, but right now my gut says that these will be the five:

DDL, Hawkes, Jackman, Phoenix, Washington.

(DDL is my favorite so far.)

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The academy will have a struggle to give DDL a third Oscar that eclipses the record of their favorite all time actor Nicholson. I would give the edge to Jackman.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermed

Are you ever going to finish last year's Film Bitch Awards?

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeoffrey

I am still not 100% sold on Jackman as the nominee. I am sure I will believe otherwise once I see the film, but Hopkins, Hawkes, Day-Lewis, Washington, and Phoenix also make sense on paper.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

My predictions: Day Lewis, Hopkins, Phoenix, Tringtinant, Washington

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn D.

I knew even before reading this that Richard Gere would be held up as a prime example of Oscar's "Best Actor in a Musical Problem." Richard Gere was not snubbed for Chicago because being a male lead in a musical is considered too fey to nominate. Richard Gere was snubbed because of The China Speech when he was a presenter at the 65th Academy Awards. Richard Gere will always be passed over for a nomination because of The China Speech.

In terms of securing a nomination, your only remaining cited snub is Ewan McGregor for Moulin Rouge! Having walked out of Moulin Rouge! after 30 minutes—oh yeah, I did that, and I have absolutely no regrets—I can't properly evaluate whether he merited a nomination, although you can probably imagine that I don't think that movie deserved any Oscar consideration whatsoever. (Also, who would McGregor replace from the eventual nominees? Tom Wilkinson for In the Bedroom? You tell him.) Even you admit that DDL was never getting it for Nine—at the time you pointed out that he'd never been nominated when his picture wasn't nominated as well.

You list Roy Scheider as the only lead actor nominated from a musical in the last 40 years, but it's really a stretch to call All That Jazz a musical in the way that Cabaret, Chicago, etc. are musicals. It only gets "musical-y" towards the end with the dream sequences, and Scheider only performs in the closing number. Joaquin Phoenix did more singing in Walk the Line, but we're not calling that a musical the way the Golden Globes does. Overall, kinda hard to say that Roy Scheider's Joe Gideon was too "feminine" to win. (That said, totally on board with Scheider deserving the Oscar more than Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer) that year, and probably more than Peter Sellers (Being There), too.)

Without Scheider, you can honestly say that there have not been any true musical leading men nominated for Best Actor in over 40 years—the last one being Chaim Topol's Tevye. But that really speaks more to the sparseness of movie musicals during that time than anything else. Going by the Golden Globes musical/comedy nominees, I can come up with only another half-dozen male leads that may have had a shot at a nomination in that time: Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Antonio Banderas (Evita), Mandy Patinkin (Yentl), John Travolta (Grease), James Caan (Funny Lady), and Peter O'Toole (Man of La Mancha). Can we say any of them were robbed? O'Toole didn't even do his own singing, and Banderas was likelier for a Supporting nomination (probably Patinkin and Caan, too, given the Academy's bias against classifying a male role as a lead when it's subservient to the female lead). But the one through-line for all of those performances is that none of them were for a movie that garnered its own Best Picture nomination. Just like DDL and Nine.

As for the four musical actors who did manage a nomination and didn't win—and I don't put Scheider on this list, so really it's three—that's too small a figure to establish any sort of bias when it comes to awarding a nominee. We agree that John C. Reilly was never getting it for Chicago. Charles Durning did a great job, but it was also only one scene, and I don't know in what world that performance deserved an Oscar more than Robert Preston's for Victor/Victoria—and as you know, Preston didn't win either. That leaves Eddie Murphy: I can't explain why he was passed over for Dreamgirls, but there are at least two competing theories out there: Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) got it for career recognition; the opening of Norbit during Oscar voted soured people on Murphy. (I have my doubts on the latter theory, but it's considered valid enough that New York Magazine factored it into their early Oscar handicapping last month.)

Is Les Miz a shoo-in for Best Picture? Yes? Then Jackman's nomination should be just as secure. Will he win? *mumbles something about not picking winners before the nominations are even out*

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

Day-Lewis; Phoenix; Jackman; Hawkes; Hopkins;

For some reason, I don't believe Denzel will receive a nod...
Day-Lewis just became Lincoln, Phoenix proved to be an acting animal, Jackman has the iconic role of Jean Valjean, Hawkes has the advantage of playing a character with disabilities in a Sundance winning drama and Hopkins is playing The Master of Suspense.

Don't get me wrong, I think Denzel will get a Golden Globe nomination and a big couple of other big nods, but somehow I believe he won't figure the final shortlist, maybe because he has the less Oscary movie of all the other contenders I mentioned before.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEd

But Johnny Depp DID get nominated for Sweeney Todd.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhcu

adri, Ralph, Ed

All the doubters of Washington's inevitable sixth nomination...I made this list to show my whole ass to when the nominations are announced.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Joaquin made one, big dumbass mistake…

Any other year, talking trash about Oscar wouldn’t have significantly hurt his chances given a performance of that magnitude. BUT in a year with arguably 8 near-equally heralded, #1-slot-beloved performances (not to mentioned having the least accessible film)… it could really cost him.

And it’s sad because, pending Jackman, it’s the finest male performance of the year. Sigh.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyanSt

hcu -- oops. you're right i forgot him!

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

J.P. -- hmmm. I don't see ALL THAT JAZZ as anything BUT a musical. It has full musical numbers before the lengthy all -musical climax and it's about one of the giants of the whole musical genre. And I disagree about the reasons for Gere's snub. BUT ANYWAY... my point is more a general one than a specific one. It is far easier to get a nomination and win for a musical if you have a vagina than a penis :)

also thanks for the Robert Preston note. I forgot him which is such a shame because that would have been such a great win.

November 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

ferdi, thank you. I find Sandra Bullock to be incredibly likable, but she is only a decent actress ( and I am being generous ) . She got lucky with box-office hits. You can't compare Hugh Jackman's triple-threat talents to the overrated Bullock. I feel this may be Jackman's win. I agree Hugh's performance is very emotional vs. Day-Lewis' modulated and subtle performance. But, also, the Academy would consider Jackman's performance as being more of a challenge. Hugh's acting and his singing live on the set.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphil

On All That Jazz being a musical: I think it's comparable to Holy Motors more than it is to Les Miz. Hedwig would be closer too. But yes, they are both musicals, though they have very little in common.

As far as Gere goes, I'm happy to this day he missed the cut. Still pissed about McGregor though. I really hope Jackman gets in if the movie is as wonderful as you say, Nathaniel.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

J.P.: Who could Ewan replace? Well, there's the dopey bio-melodrama turn of Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind and there's also Sean Penn's flawed impression of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man in I Am Sam. I can't offer an opinion on Denzel or Will Smith's works, but I can say I wholeheartedly agree Tom Wilkinson fully deserved his placement. As for why Arkin won: Most likely a fusion of both those reasons. Arkin's career is, unfortunately, VERY lean as far as showcase performances are concerned. What's the standing for traditionally "Oscary" showcase roles: His Oscar nominations, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (FREUD. Freud interacting with the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, but, still, FREUD.), Grosse Pointe Blank and Little Miss Sunshine? Other than those, the three films where he's the closest to even possible traction are an extreme bit part (Glengarry), a kinda dull character (Edward Scissorhands) or a standout in a film that's too way too weird on a conceptual level for the Academy (Thirteen Conversations About One Thing). So, in part, Little Miss Sunshine was probably viewed by critics and actors as THEIR LAST CHANCE, which is why he was pushed to the nomination over Kinnear or Carrell. On the other part, well, there's bleeping Norbit to consider, which, no question, is one of the two worst movies I've seen in my life and because the other movie is Vinyl, that means it is, hands down, the WORST professionally assembled movie I've seen in my life. A dumb script that's disgustingly bigoted (ESPECIALLY the Mister Wong stuff), plastic cinematography, makeup that has no bones about coming across as fake and a slack running time that needed ten minutes of trimming.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Your five seem about right.

Hopkins = No chance. Especially with his recent comments.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

If Jackman's nominated then, I agree, he could pull out the win. He'll win the Globe + he's INCREDIBLY well liked. Like, super super liked. And in a movie they'll love to boot. I'm thinking HITCHCOCK's just not going to play well enough for Oscar.

I'm gonna make this prediction though: Richard Gere for SAG. Not the win, but I reckon they like him enough to nominate him over some of the others.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I forgot Johnny Depp got nominated for Sweeney Todd, too. And I specifically listed him as someone who didn't get it! In any case, no one expected him to win then, either.

Nat, I love All That Jazz, but I still have to disagree. The only musical elements until the ending are the "Air-otica" sequence and the "Everything Old Is New Again" dance number (using pre-recorded music). What, those intimate dance scenes with Scheider and his daughter, and then the one with his ex-wife, those count? That's a reach.

I hope you appreciate the distinction I'm trying to make, though. I know it seems rather pointless to separate musical musicals where characters just break into song and dance (Chicago, Les Miz, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), from those movies where the music and dancing come from entertainer characters who are performing within the story (Victor Victoria, Bob Roberts, O Brother, Where Art Thou?). And it mostly is pointless, but for the purposes of answering the question, "Does starring in a movie musical feminize a male performance?" I think the distinction is valid. When an actor spends a good deal of a movie singing his lines and dancing with a preternatural fluidity, then yeah, I can see how a cohort of straight men who aren't secure in their heterosexuality might not be comfortable. But I don't see that that audience feels that way about George Clooney just because he's one of the Soggy Bottom Boys. Or that womanizer Joe Gideon somehow loses his masculinity just for singing "Bye Bye Life" at the end of the movie.

Okay, maybe you're right that it's "far easier to get a nomination and win for a musical if you have a vagina than a penis"—we all know the Academy still has its gender and sexual issues. It would also be easier, though, if more musicals were made in the first place.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

Volvagia: You misunderstand me. I'm not saying, necessarily, that Russell Crowe and Sean Penn deserved their nominations more than Ewan McGregor. I'm saying that given the Academy's preferences for actors who play the mentally disabled—not to mention, in Crowe's case, nominating the lead from the Best Picture favorite—their nominations were locked in well ahead of McGregor's. Ditto Will Smith's biopic celebrity mimicry in Ali. And Denzel won, of course. I'm not saying that Tom Wilkinson didn't deserve his nomination either, only that he was probably the fifth-ranked of the five.

Nat's hypothesizing that McGregor's presence in a movie musical had something to do with his being denied a nomination for Moulin Rouge!. I asked "who would McGregor have replaced?" to indicate that I don't think there was anyone (possibly excepting Wilkinson—possibly) who was nominated who wouldn't have been anyway. I'm saying that McGregor's being shut out was about that, not about his being the male lead in a "feminine" genre.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

This speculation is SO exciting.

If only the best picture category went back to five nominees...

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn D.

I'm pretty goddamn sure Cooper is getting nominated. I'm pretty sure the entire reason he's being underestimated is that most of the Oscar bloggers outright dislike SLP (Stone, Tapley, O'Neill, etc.), and can't put aside their personal biases. And also they assume there's a bias against Cooper in the industry. But Cooper gives a magnetic, layered performance with a lot of strong emotional beats. He nails the ups and downs of being manic and depressive. I'm not bipolar myself, but I am incredibly moody, and I saw a lot of myself in Pat.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDevil Shark

Cooper is being overestimated by everyone but the "Oscar bloggers," and even they think he has an excellent chance of being nominated. I just don't see it, but then again, I don't get the hoopla about Silver Linings, and I'm a big fan of David O. Russell's previous work.

November 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I agree with J.P. in this point and also, I tend to add this: Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor weren't snubbed because they're men in a musical. It just because the films are more female centric. Most of Moulin Rouge! drama was at Kidman's actions -Her desire to be an actress, self sacrifice and the sudden death- and Chicago was more a Roxie Hart - Velma Kelly duo. These characters are more pasive -And I even like McGregor in Moulin Rouge!-. But when the lead performer is a active character in a musical, they tend to nominate -Johnny Depp instead Helena Bonham Carter-. Sorry but Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean is not a Richard Gere's Chicago. Jean Valjean is the REAL LEAD with clear act and actions between the play. Even he's an empathic "hero". So I tend to believe now more than even... Jackman will win the Oscar.

My five nominees: Jackman / Day-Lewis / Washington / Cooper / Waltz

Hopkins is DOA, especially if some reviews said "Toby Jones is better on TV playing Hitchcock", the lead actor category is too exclusive to include a mixed reviewed film and the film is failing at box office. Phoenix is still a question mark and after seen "The Sessions", I'm not too sure to Hawkes. So I make a Wild prediction with Christoph Waltz.

November 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

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