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7 Notes on Revised Oscar Charts

Hey y'all... I've been hard at work this week updating all the charts. Yep, every. single. one. So herewith ten notes for suggested comment fodder. 

Mystery Meat
American Hustle and Saving Mr Banks are the Oscar Bait Unknowns... unless you assume that Wolf of Wall Street will be finished in time. All have, to my knowledge, not been screened for even long lead critics. Most pundits, armchair or otherwise, believe in Hustle wholeheartedly (one assumes due to David O. Russell's recent track record) and are suspicious of Banks (one assumes because of the dangers of Disney-on-Disney hagiography but maybe also because movies-about-movies aren't always Hugos; sometimes they're Hitchcocks). So far I'm not expecting a lot of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty but maybe that's a stealth masterpiece about to blow us all away. Which of the unseens are you hoping deserves space in the Best Picture race?

 All Over The World
The foreign film charts are so much work and every site now covers this category that I once had a stranglehold on. I wonder if they're worth the time anymore (?) but I do love my subtitled pictures. We currently have 69 official submissions and only two have what you might call a truly high profile (Hong Kong's The Grandmaster, and Iran's The Past) though I'm not at all sure that they're the strongest candidates this year. Take a look at the charts from Afghanistan to Italy and Japan to Venezuela! Which films are you most curious about and do you like the influx of variety here? The world is giving us animated films, documentaries, horror films, romances, you name it, in addition to the usual heaping helpings of war dramas, biopics, and childhood journeys. If you follow this race closely you should know that Team Experience is on it: Tim saw Egypt's entry, Jose took in the Czech Republic submission, and I reviewed the Romanian and Iranian entries and Glenn and I both loved the Cambodian entry though we haven't written about it yet. More to come.

The Coronation March
I understand that with Best Actress there's a lot of "It's Sandy vs. Cate" hoopla in online forums at the moments. Bullock is in very good shape for a nomination, true (I'm just being slightly contrarian to leave her out at the moment though I don't think she's anywhere close to 'lock' status yet) but I'd be very shocked if she ever gained enough momentum for a second win. A) it's not that kind of role since there's no "bait" beyond sad tears B) she's not that kind of actor to win a second unless competition is weak or the role is super bait C) Oscar has never in 85 years indicated a deep well of goodwill for actors working auteur pieces or actors in science fiction films. So unless Amy Adams is our stealth champion, I think Cate will be sweeping for months ala The Queen... and lord knows she is one.

Sell Yourself
Oscar campaigns can make a huge difference for movies and performers that aren't slam dunks. Armies of publicists and awards strategists are already working on their maneuvers though we won't see it till it happens. The films I personally think need smart campaigns the most are those in wide open categories (like animation) or those that will get zilch if they don't have one, either because they're perceived as "small" or because they're in the middle ground of praised but not rapturously so or they're well liked but there's no automatic "in". I'm thinking of films like Prisoners, Short Term 12, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, Labor Day, Blue is the Warmest Color, maybe even The Great Gatsby and Rush (the latter two I'm currently predicting to win the double edged sword prize aka the "most nominations without a corresponding Best Picture nod"). I realize it's a diverse lot but my point is they could all score anywhere from nuthin' to three or four nods, depending how well they play the game and whether they can condition AMPAS to think of them quite naturally when it comes time to ballot.  

• Sound and Fury
We've seen in the past that there's only so much room for blockbusters in the visual and sound categories if big showy prestige dramas have the wow elements and necessary "size" (think Gravity and Captain Phillips and maybe even Gatsby to a limited degree). When Tony Stark suits up the visual effects voters ALWAYS respond but the sound guys have only thrilled to his particular blast offs once. With Superman and various Kryptonians wreaking such loud havoc this year could the Man of Steel steal tech nods from the Man of Iron... or maybe they're both shut out and World War Z rises? Oscar doesn't really go for zombie films but there's a first time for everything right and maybe a couple of tech elements could be honored?

• Dress You Up
I can't believe we've come this far into the film year and I haven't waxed rhapsodic about Best Costume Design. I will rectify that soon including an interview with one of the true legends of the category. One of the things I've always liked about the costume designers is that they don't always stay in lock-step with Best Picture so it's anyone's guess. There are a lot of candidates worth considering including Lee Daniels' The Butler (crocheted disco suits!), Dallas Buyer's Club (80s trans glamour and redneck Texas), period finery versus humble wool in 12 Years a Slave, the sexpot disco glam of American Hustle... I could go on. One thing I'm curious about is Trish Summerville for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. People loved her work on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and though the original Capitol costumes (by a different designer) didn't win a nomination they did get a lot of media attention. How will these fare in comparison? 

• Sing-Along?
Will no one speak out or care about the Original Song category? It still seems entirely bereft of nominatable tunes... hey, if that's what it takes to get Short Term 12 nominated for something than that's what it takes. If we were nominating Best Song Performance we'd be singing a different tune entirely because, hello, Black Nativity divas and Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac because good god his voice in Inside Llewyn Davis! I didn't love the movie beyond the cat but his voice is just golden. 

Suggestions on how to improve the charts are welcome


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Reader Comments (46)

I just find it kind of hard to believe that Inside Llewyn Davis, The Monuments Men, and The Wolf of Wall Street (if it makes it in on time) won't be in the Top 10 simply because they just seem to have everything the Oscars wants. I can't see a world where a quirky Spike Jonez movie gets a nomination but a Coen brother's musical or a George Clooney War Dramedy don't.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnon(ymous)

If it means anything, Nathaniel, your coverage of the foreign language category is still far and away the gold standard.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

Anonymous -- hey look i could be wrong ;) but Monuments Men does not have good buzz and Inside Llewyn Davis is minor Coen Bros (unless Oscar feels really nostalgic for NYC in the 60s)... but Wolf is only outside the chart because of the possible delays.

will h -- thanks. i feel like i've been slacking. not purposefully but it's hard to keep up unless you just print press releases.

October 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

How did it not cross my mind until now that Black Nativity might be a major player in Original Song? That movie is so off the radar - if it turns out to be good, and I trust Kasi Lemmons, it could be a player out of nowhere. (Angela Bassett for nod #2!)

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I'm with you on not feeling the buzz for Monuments Men (although I do think it will end up with maybe 2 or 3 tech nominations), but I really think Inside Llewyn Davis is going to be an Oscar player for sure. I'm not saying it's going to win anything (well, maybe Original Song), but it's very much in the thick of the Best Picture race, from what I can tell. It might not have the mainstream crossover appeal that True Grit had, but I suspect it's going to have maybe even more critical backing than A Serious Man did, and if that was able to get a nod despite being even more low-profile, then I think Llewyn Davis will easily grab a nomination unless ALL of the so-called "stealth contenders" knock it out of the park and take up all the slots.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Oh, and just a quick question: you said in your Blue Jasmine description that people don't seem to love it as much as Midnight in Paris (which is true), just to play into your point about "selling yourself," what do you think of Sony's plan to go all-in for the movie? Will their presumably strong campaign be enough to push it over the top despite less enthusiasm for the movie than there was for Midnight?

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

I wouldn't count Bullock out, she's already in campaign mode. I also don't see Streep getting a nom this year (sacrilege, I know), but its not her strongest work, and she just won for a better perf in a lesser film. I see a lot of other women taking that spot. I also could see Martingale take a supporting spot. She is very well liked and when she is good (as she is said to be here) she is very good. Blue is the warmest color could take some acting noms for the two women and Stiller could be a sleeper for Mitty. I agree about Monuments Men not going anywhere.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Regarding Saving Mr. Banks, the "Disney makes a movie about Disney!" factor does worry me, but something I've noticed over the last few years... the movies about movies that were about actual films (Hitchcock and My Week with Marilyn, namely) weren't the huge Oscar hits many expected them to be. On the other hand, movies about movies that were nonexistent (i.e. fictional accounts, like The Artist and Hugo; even Argo could count since that movie never even went into production ;) ) were big Oscar hits even though they looked like long shots going into their respective seasons.

Maybe in this day and age, Oscar voters are less than thrilled about film adaptations of their own history as people in the industry? That might be reaching, but maybe voters want films about "the magic of films" more than films about other films.

Oh, and I'm all about the original song race, but it looks weak right now. There are a slew of eligible tunes, but few of them seem likely for Oscar recognition. However, I'd keep an eye on the Civil Wars' songs from A Place at the Table and even the tunes from Sound City.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonovan W.

Should have had this in my last comment, but Henry's comment reminds me... I'm so close to bumping Meryl Streep out of my top five for best actress.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonovan W.

I can't help but feel that everyone is underestimating Philomena's Oscar chances. Not that I'm rooting for it (or have seen it...), but it seems to check tons of boxes--y'know, a heartwarming crowdpleaser, oriented toward an older audience, etc. It just looks like the kind of middle-of-the-road movie that could push out some of the more ambitious efforts. And I can't help but feel like Dench is going to come along and take best actress from Cate without even trying.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

Foreign film-wise, I'm watching out for the following as potential nominees: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Rep, Denmark, Hong Kong, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Singapore.

I feel weird leaving out powerhouses like France, Germany, and Italy, but I'm just not feeling those selections this year. I also love your mention of Nepal's film, but it reminds me more of a out-of-the-box shortlist selection rather than an actual nominee. Same with Cambodia.

Looking at the contenders from my first paragraph in order to predict the nominees, I may regret it but for the moment I'm also betting against Hong Kong and Iran. I'm skeptical of Hong Kong (despite Weinstein's pull) because it seems like people were more impressed by its visuals than engaged with its plot. For The Past, it's gotten notices throughout the year, but I feel like the reviews I've read are more muted than rapturous. I could be wrong, but those are the impressions I've gotten on those two high-profile films.

One can also never count out Canada and Israel, but their selections this year don't seem nearly as hyped as in recent years.

Czech Republic is likely too long to wind up a nominee.

So for now I'm dangerously skirting several of the big names and predicting Chile, Denmark, Palestine, Romania, and Saudi Arabia, with the Executive Committee saving Romania and/or Palestine. I'd put Serbia and Brazil as dark horses.

Which one am I most looking forward to seeing? Brazil (it's on Netflix too!), followed closely by Chile.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

The Guardian are doing some Oscar predictions and their writer would appear to have seen Saving Mr Banks and is raving

"This film might well have been both corny and soppy. Instead, if offers real psychological insight, neatly integrated with a thoughtful take on a cinematic masterpiece. Buttons are pressed, but fairly and squarely and to well-deserved effect. Thompson's role also helps compensate for the movies' oft-bemoaned neglect of older female actors. Her PL Travers is no batty and redundant grand dame but the driving force of the film, controlling the action and even old Walt himself. Unashamedly ageing, the lines on her face emphasised rather than smoothed out, she remains triumphantly beautiful."


October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLurconis

donovan -- can you point me to this "slew of eligible tunes" because i haven't come up with many! it seems like every time i heard about a song it was instantly disqualified (like that mariah carey tune for Oz... which doesn't play until too far into the end credits to count or that song from Monsters University which is actually not original and most of the tunes from black natitivity and inside llewyn davis since they're previously recorded songs and so on.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Is the Coldplay song from Catching Fire eligible? Because if it is, you know it's a lock for a Globe nod, and in a weak year, perhaps Oscar? It would get Gwyneth to show up, I'd nothing else

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

I think your lack of love for 'Inside Llewyn Davis' clouding your judgment, Nathaniel. That movie has been getting ecstatic raves. I'm almost ready to call it a lock for a Best Picture nod. You don't even have it in your top 15?!?

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Could Hanks win so America have their own three-time best actor winner? I see McCounaghey getting this nomination easily, but is he already that respected to win? I think Ejifor is the frontrunner, because people may not know him that well, but he is not associated with shitty Kate Hudson romcoms. Not even Magic Mike counts as a make over: he was still being hot in a movie that they clearly didn't think was "serious" enough to rebuild McCounaghey's reputation.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I'm looking forward to seeing Inside Llewyn Davis (My pick to go all the way), 12 Years A Slave, and Saving Mr. Banks when they finally get released in my neck of the woods. So far this year the movie I've enjoyed most is Prisoners. As long as there are a raft of statues falling on those four, I'll be a happy camper.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I posted a previous entry about being lukewarm about the title character in "Blue Jasmine"--Blanchett is fine, I just think the character isn't as well written as some of the supporting roles, and is too unsympathetic. (The lack of closure/arc was also perturbing.) Based on everything I'm hearing about "Gravity," if it really is as good as they say it is, Bullock is going to get a major halo effect since she's the one who's carrying the film and giving it all of its emotional impact. For those who argue that Bullock isn't the type to win 2 Oscars and that "The Blind Side" was a once-in-a-career thunderbolt, I give you Hilary Swank in "Million Dollar Baby" barely 5 years after "Boys Don't Cry."

Apparently, some folks are unclear if Streep is going to be pushed as Actress or Supporting Actress--if she's bumped to Supporting, that means they're going to push Julia Roberts (who's getting great reviews) for Best Actress. But remember, Streep also has "Into the Woods" coming next Christmas--if she's as good in that as we think she could be, that's her #4 Oscar. (She'll tie Hepburn in number of Oscars won then, but it would be 2 for lead and 2 for supporting.)

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

i'm not sure about Gatsby on costumes. I read that Catherine Martin said a significant amount of the costumes were borrowed and not created for the movie. Not sure if this could affect it and being declared ineligible

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

Cate was just awarded at the NYFF ;)

Blue Jasmine continues to be very fresh in people's minds and is still in the top 20 at the box office. Adjusted or unadjusted to inflation it will certainly end up being one of Allen's most successful (Commercially + Critically) films.

The avalanche of Critics’ Awards is less than 2 months away when we’ll be watching the Jasmine tsunami hit it BIG.

No power on earth can convince me that critics will prefer Bullock to Blanchett this Awards Season :) and they have already over-rewarded Streep.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I have a snealy feeling Streep will not get her usual assured nom like Jack in 2006.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

I think Sandra Bullock is more like Sally Firld than Hillary Swank - Sandra had more of a career behind her (and Sally was at least well-known as a tv star when she won her two Oscars) and both Sandra and Sally are extremely likable and popular.

That said, Sally's two Oscars in two nominations did not wear well, career-wise, and she was bypassed for some potential nods until last year; a second Oscar, so soon, with her second nomination, might not be great for Sandra's career either. Sally also won in two fairly easy years without major competition; Sandra didn't really have major competition when she won for The Blind Side, but this year looks to be tougher.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Hi Nathaniel

Please don't lose interest in the Foreign Language category. Yours is the very best compilation of the info. Where else can we find the movie posters, directors name, trailers, etc.?

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete

I looked at your Original Song prediction. You wondered whether Frozen was musical, and while we do not know the number of songs it is a musical. You can listen one song Let It Go song by Idina Menzel on YouTube. She did sing it at the Disney expo.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChinoiserie

I think you're underestimating Sandra because you weren't crazy for the movie. She's gotten raves, is a huge star, had another big hit this year, she'll have the whole "it was a challenge to film it" angle behind her, and this could easily be a massive hit. She's a slam dunk for the nom, and a serious competitor for Queen Blanchett.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Sure, I'll send the list of eligible (and possibly eligible) songs ASAP

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonovan W.

squasher88 -- i do not understand those ecstatic raves at all. It's so weird to me. I am an outlier on Gravity but the reviews make absolute 100% sense to me and I knew they'd be ravey. But Inside Llewyn Davis. it's cold (as the Coens are often criticized of being). it's very slow paced (there's about a half hour in the middle you could lift out with ease even though it's atypical enough e). it's odd. it is decidedly untriumphant/cathartic (which is usually death knell for Oscar) ... it's very repetitive. there are no loveable characters (outside of the cat) and even though the Coens aren't really into "loveable" per se, usually their movies have characterizations distinct enough to make the characters loveable in a memorable way ... and i'm not sure that's the case here. I dont know.

though whenever the Coen bros make a movie i assume people will assume it's locked up because of that "A Serious Man" nomination (which might be the weirdest best picture nomination of the past ten years for various reasons)

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Chinoiserie -- i didn't mean that question literally. I know Frozen is a musical but they're promoting it as if it's not so i'm hoping it's not "just barely" a musical... like somethign half hearted with 2 songs or somethign.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

The academy acting branch is going to love Osage County big time. I
don't see any scenario where Meryl is snubbed for a nomination.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I think the critics will rally for Brie Larson and she will get a best actress nomination and don't count out 'short term 12 for a best pic nom rotten tomatoes 99% metacritic 85 its going to be the indie darling of the year its a shame that john Gallagher Jr and Keith Stanfield aren't being considered in the best actor or supporting actor categories for there tremendous performances but I think Stanfield has a legitimate shot at a best original song nomination for his rap in the movie

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

Mark -- i dont see that scenario either. though i'm not sure the film is well regarded enough for it to score multiple acting nods (especially since people can't seem to agree on who is the standout after Meryl)

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Nathaniel, I so hope you are correct about Bullock .. just saw the movie.. that a lot about it was excellent..as far as acting, I felt there was not enough actual acting to go the whole way to an Osca or even a nom ... She has her Gravity Oscar for the very unright Oscar she received forBlindside.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

rick -- at least Sandra is infinitely more deserving than Clooney for it (honestly I thought he was even kind of not good in it ::( --he never seemed scared or concerned really to me. just like George Clooney in space.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Hey Nathaniel
I think john Gallagher Jr is in tenth place on your best actor charts I'm disappointed he's not getting more buzz he was just as good as Larson and deserves some consideration. What do you think Nathaniel?

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

I have an inkling that Walter Mitty will be a bigger deal than expected. New Yorker magazine short story by classic American writer, beautiful cinematography, lots of stars, two festival berths...

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Besides Streep, AOS will receive multiple acting nominations. At least two others, besides Streep.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

AOC could become the worst-reviewed film since The Help to earn 3 acting noms.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Do you not feel Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a contender? Me thinks she's probably ahead of Gerwig now.

And that dude pimping the shit out of Short Term 12....you're expecting too much.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

By the way, Karen O. is contributing an original song to Her, and I believe that Fantasia song from The Butler will qualify. So those are two potential contenders in the Original Song category.

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Oh, Nathaniel.

You really are the best at this, aren't you? Nobody has this in-depth analysis. I have been checking the pages for a while now waiting for an update and it's finally here!

I too think you are underestimating Sandra Bullock but that's only because twitter has been yelling at me that SHE IS AMAZING FANTASTIC GIVE HER THE OSCAR and I'm yet to see it. What I love about this year is that it seems to be the career resurgence of Tom Hanks. He hasn't really been on Oscar's radar since Cast Away and now here he is, nominated for a Tony this year and one of the front runners for two different Oscar categories. If he is in fact double nominated that will be the story that everyone is taking about and I think he will go home with at least 1.

It's all very exciting! Keep up the stellar work.

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNic Meyers

Nathaniel... I totally agree about Clooney .. but I was really only talking about Bullock

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Hi Nathaniel

What do you think of "The Counselor"? Any buzz?

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Hey Nathaniel -- Since "Two Lives" has been selected as Germany's oscar contender, is it just wishful thinking to expect a Supporting Actress campaign for Liv Ullmann?

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Wolfman

the wolfman -- yes, since a foreign film run usually (these days) means they won't get released until next year.

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Hey Nathaniel,
I just saw two of the most wonderful, fine and touching performances this year for me so fare - Terence Stamp & Vanessa Redgrave in "Song for Marion"/"Unfinished Song" - I can not believe why the outstanding Mr. Stamp was not considered for this subtle portrait - Redgrave would have well done with a supporting nominee. How could this film be to small to be overlooked??

The same thing with Chris O'Dowd's performance in "The Sapphires" - bad timing - even for Golden Globes? He was ravishing :)
regards Martin

October 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermartin

Just caught up with Song For Marion on Pay Per View and Stamp is a marvel in it ... a beautiful "small" movie with brilliant characterizations and perfect examples of the actors' art. Probably my favorite kind of film and the British do them so well. Because Tacoma tends to be the middle of nowhere unless you trek to Seattle, Jackman and Gyllenhaal in Prisoners are still the best "two hander" movie I've seen all year.

Will all of these actors be ignored come Oscar time? Probably, and that is a rotten shame.

October 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

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