Oscar History

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Early Bird Predix: "Best Supporting Actor"

And here we go... the acting categories you've all been very impatiently waiting for in TFE's first wave of Oscar predictions for the year.

Will Previously Honored Movie Stars With Weird Character-Actor Hairdos Rule This Year?

As faithful readers know I like to keep my crystal ball risky with the bouncing and hope it doesn't shatter. In the first wave of predictions "what if" scenarios and "wild cards" are espectially compelling in the Supporting races. I mean why not? So little is yet known about future important matters like Amount of Screen Time, Nature of the Ensemble Roles, Best in Show Scene Stealing and even Post-Production "we'll fix it in post" Switcheroos where a film is rethought to better spotlight its MVPs. This early on there's no point in making boring predictions in which Oscar favorites hog all the categories though sometimes they do -- witness last year's All Previous Winner boredom in this category. Which is why I'm taking a few big risks like imagining an implausible Tim Roth comeback in a Nicole Kidman vehicle or suspecting that stage actor Sean Mahon (so charming recently as an unexplored love interest in Higher Ground) will make the most of a key role in Philomena.

I'm betting on a field of non-winners and (Oscar) newbies. For now... That said sometimes you have to go "default" as I've done by predicting Javier Bardem. From a distance his new role as an Weirdly-Coiffed Embodiment of Evil for an Oscar-friendly Director (sound familiar) seems an awful lot like his roles in No Country For Old Men & Skyfall but considering that he almost got nominated for doing this again - in a Bond film no less ! -- I decided against pretending that his fellow actors don't just worship the ground on which he walks.  

And what of the Ensembles and Potentials For Category Fraud?

Foxcatcher has three major male roles: schizo John duPont (Stave Carell) and two wrestling brothers played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo (not pictured)

The one I'm most curious about in terms of story structure and "best in show" business is Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it's based on a true bizarre story about a wealthy eccentric (played by Steve Carell) who was also a schizophrenic and the two Olympic wrestling brothers (Channing Tatum & Mark Ruffalo) who he became friends with which did not end well for any of them. It's a three-handed story. Channing Tatum gets top billing but the screenplay is based on that brother's unpublished? memoirs so he might be your narrator/audience proxy (a la Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby) which means that Tatum will be demoted to supporting even if he's the lead. My guess is Carell with the showiest part is lead and the other two are relegated to supporting despite very large roles. Now pedigree-wise a movie starring Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell and Channing Tatum who have 1 nomination and a lot of obstacles to Oscary respect between them (TV fame, light comedy history, hunkaliciousness) shouldn't scream "Oscar nominations for all!" but Bennett Miller is quality. He's only made two narrative features (Capote & Moneyball) but his favored milieu (true stories about famous or infamous men) is right in Oscar's wheelhouse and both of his previous pictures won a lead and a supporting acting nomination. 

Since Hollywood is always very focused on testosterone heavy stories there are usually multiple options of acting glory for men in any given film. Take these examples: The Counselor is headlined by Michael Fassbender but my guess is the colorful supporting cast (led by Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem) will pull focus; I know nothing (yet) about the breakdown of characters in The Monuments Men but there are A LOT OF THEM so who is to say which Friend o' Clooneys (Damon, Goodman, Balaban, Murray?) was given the best role or the most camera attention?; Wolf of Wall Street is also a sausage fest but it seems more likely to be The Leo Show - Wall Street Edition than anything else; I've noticed quite a lot of "Benedict Cumberbatch for the Oscar!" mania after the August: Osage County trailer premiere and, sure, he does emote more in the context of the trailer than anyone besides Julia Roberts but that role isn't really that big or that great and the men (Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper) may find a hard time getting around the female driven narrative for any Oscar attention of their own in such a crowded film.

So take a look at the chart and tell me with your own crystal ball where you think mine is malfunctioning and which prophesies you also deem most likely to occur. (Up next: Best Actor)

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Reader Comments (34)

Why is Christian Bale supporting for American Hustle? I feel like every news article and synopsis for the film make him out to be the lead, but I've seen a lot of predictions put him supporting and Cooper at lead. What's this inside scoop I don't know about?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJS

oh boy that picture of Jared Leto is something alright! :)

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeila

JS -there is no inside scoop. I haven't yet read a synopsis which makes it clear who is the lead. It sounds very much like an ensemble film. I was just taking Sasha Stone's lead who suggested Cooper as a lead contesant.

May 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

JS -- oh and thanks for the note though. I meant to mention Bradley Cooper there as well. Fixed.

May 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I always like your left field predictions. Never heard f Mahon, so thats something to look forward to.

Is Craig still in Monuments? I thought I read somewhere he was replaced by Damon.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Doesn't it seem like the time is right for some Sam Shepard career appreciation? Seems like that time in his cycle -- maybe he comes with the cicadas.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

I don't even know if he's got anything coming out, but Albert Finney needs a nomination AND WIN here.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Is everyone counting McConaughey's work in Mud as Lead? That never occurred to me since he is off screen for such big chunks of that movie. Or are you just not counting it as a real contender?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Albert Finney! Also, Sean Mahon looks like a guy I used to date in NYC. Le sigh...

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterzig

Anyone from THE BUTLER? Ok, but I can imagine Oprah will be among the supporting women, thanks to her long suffering wife

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Benedict Cumberbatch is the new Jessica Chastain (as I see it). An actor's actor that everyone in the public attaches to behind the merit of their work and not Hollywood PR pimping. He most certainly will surface in supporting this year--so go out and find a space for him.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I'm bullish on The Fifth Estate and a return to Gods & Monsters/Kinsey form for Bill Condon, which means Daniel Bruhl could benefit from category fraud vs. Cumberbatch's Assange.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

brookesboy -- i read the comments backwards and was immediately scrambling to figure out what albert finney was in this year damn you! ;)

sawyer -- that's one of the movies i was trying not to think about because i know so little about it and it seems like "is this really happening this year?" -- one of those, you know.

May 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Christian Bale is the lead of American Hustle. You should have put Jeremy Renner instead.
My predictions are:

1.Jeremy Renner - American Hustle
2.Josh Brolin - Labor Day
3.Mark Ruffalo -Foxcatcher
4.Benedict Cumberbatch - August. Osage County
5.Matt Damon - The Monuments Men

6.Jared Leto - The Dallas Byers Club
7.John Goodman - Inside Llewelyn Davies
8.Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
9.Joanh Hill or Mathew McCounaghey - The Wolf of Wall Street
10.Chris Cooper - August: Osage County

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersergio

Cumberbatch is not getting in for 12 years nor is Paul Dano. Fassbender and Ejiofer are the best bets.They were both great in it.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Naveen Andrews as the Pakistani love affair of Princess Diana in Diana. I don't know why, but I think this movie will be big, even if it looks like TV movie. They loved The Queen. Why wouldn't they love the princess? It's the royalty pont story we can relate to, because we've seen it. People will cry a lot when she dies and Candle in the Wind plays.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

but it may be the naomi watts show, as you say. the snubbed poor michael sheen in the queen, damn it!

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Holy shit, Channing in a wrestling singlet. Give him all the awards. Just give them to him!

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

i am anticipating this discussion, but IMO Naomi is gonna win. Overdue, Respected, Biopic, Emotional Ending, Royalty Porn, Momentum from The Impossible, Going against winners (Meryl, Nicole, Julia, Lawrence). It's her year.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Sergio -- probably so but i want to cover all my bases -- it sounds in every description like a true ensemble film. spinning around Bale & Adams but definitely a multi-character thing.

May 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

and now i am beyond depressed as my computer just crashed and i have lost the entire charts of the other three acting categories as i forgot to hit save. ARARRRRRArrrrrggggggGGGhhhHHH

May 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

zig -- lucky you!

May 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Diana has yet to find a US distributor. Could be a sign the
Movie sucks.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Zig-I had the same reaction when Ryan Reynolds started becoming famous again (I'd kind of forgotten about Two Guys and a Girl)-he is the smitting image of the first guy I ever kissed. Who was oddly also named Ryan.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Here's where I'm coming from on this category right now:

1. Idris Elba, Pacific Rim (Wire cast member makes good in a big rousing role in a blockbuster. The Burgess Meredith slot.)
2. Sharlto Copley, Spike Lee's Oldboy (I'm thinking "Adrian Price" is the Yoo Ji-Tae role from the original and that was DYNAMITE creepy stuff for any actor to dig into)
3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle (I'm thinking he's got the largest supporting role and his current Academy acceptance could push him through)
4. Javier Bardem, The Counselor (I'm not completely sold on this, because I think Adrian Pryce will pull most of the "modern villain" heat away from his work)
5. Michael Fassbender, Twelve Years a Slave (Overdue points will go a long way, especially if he's predictably amazing and he's a period villain.)
6. Matt Damon, The Zero Theorem (Sounds way more interesting than his Elysium work. His character's name is Management, it's a Terry Gilliam film and I don't think he's really played the villain before.)
7. Alan Rickman, The Butler
8. Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher (I'm not fully confident about Ruffalo, mostly because I think he'll pop in the first act, get shot and then we move into the courtroom.)
9. Sam Shepard, August: Osage County
10. Will Forte (reports were leaked that he was the "less lead" of the two)
11. Steve Coogan, Philomena (he's a name, but the writing nom might be enough for them, though)
12. Daniel Bruhl, Rush (But they can't keep falling for Ron Howard biopics)
13. Tim Roth, Grace of Monaco (He might steal the show, but the heat on him might be so dulled at this point that it won't matter.)
14. Jim Carrey, Kick-Ass 2 (I know it's unlikely, but I think he should at least be mentioned as being somewhere in the conversation)
15. John Cusack, The Butler (The trailer drop has dulled the heat, but if the film makes the weird "Brechtian Nixon" thing he was doing in the trailer work, it might reignite.)

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

cal roth - even if Diana finds a distributor and does well, I just don't see Naomi winning. She's like Amy Adams or even Julianne Moore to me; she's clearly respected enough to be nominated but not loved enough to win.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

It's nice to see Bardem up there, but maybe it's time that his American agents revisit his pre-Coen career. The guy can play almost anything. Please, stop sending him weird villains.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Guys, forget Diana, eOne will be the distribuitor of the film.

My predictions:

1. Bruce Dern - Nebraska: While the reviews put him more as a lead performer, with Redford take the veteran spot, Paramount has an easy win in this category.
2. Bradley Cooper - American Hustle: Afterglow nomination
3. Javier Bardem - The Counselor: Beloved and respected thespian
4. Jean Dujardin - Monuments Men: Just because I want to see him again ;)
5. Sean Mahon - Philomena: Excellent point Nath
6. Daniel Bruhl - Rush: One of the contenders for Jessica Chastain's spot
7. Michael Fassbender - Twelve Years a Slave: Overdue for a nom
8. Jeremy Renner - Twelve Years a Slave; Maybe another DiCaprio/Waltz situation.
9. Tim Roth - Grace of Monaco: The other Weinstein contender
10.Channing Tatum - Foxcatcher: Lead actor in a supporting category.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterleon

I've seen people mention Shepard, Cumberbatch, and and Cooper for August: Osage County, but the only male role that was Tony-nominated was the one that will be played by Ewan McGregor in the movie. I know that doesn't always mean it will be the same for the movie, but it's worth considering, especially since he was sort of in the mix last year for The Impossible.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Edwin -- yeah, people seem to not really know that much about AUGUST. It's really not focused on the men. They'd have to really kill it and steal the scenes that are built around the mother and her daughters. I'm not saying it's impossible just that it's improbable.

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

That's true.

I'm sure the movie won't be three hours long so if the producers trim Shepard's monologue it will get sharper and that might be effective in awards terms.

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Correction: Renner is NOT in 12 Years a Slave. Pitt and Fassbinder are.

Typical of the article are the pretty glory boys of which a few have the unique ability to fully immerse themselves in character, making us forget who they are. And whose performances live long after the screening room lights have come on.

At this juncture, I'd say Bruel for his turn in Rush or Renner for his role in The Immigrant.

If the upcoming Kill the Messenger is handled correctly e.g. treated in the same vein as Crowe's The Insider, then Renner as the late newspaper reporter Gary Webb, could earn himself more than a Best Actor nom.

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