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Tuesday
Jan072014

Mini-Symposium: Oscar's Fifth Spot (Part Two of Two)

Will American Hustle win multiple acting nods?ICYMI we are starting a new tradition here at The Film Experience. Though we usually gather a handful of prominent film bloggers to discuss the Oscar nominations in great detail (once they've had time to sink in), this year we're doing a mini-symposium before the nominations to discuss the always competitive situations surrounding the "just glad to be nominated" spot. Yesterday,  Kurt Osenlund (The House Next Door), Nathaniel R (The Film Experience, c'est moi), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and You (in the comments) began with the supporting categories and who might rise should one of the expected five in each category falter at the finish line. (Though if you really think it over, isn't Nomination Morning really the starting gate?)

Where we left off yesterday: Sasha thought Robert Redford's All is Lost nomination would still be nominated, despite worries that the campaign faded too quickly and that if anyone fell for DiCaprio or Whitaker it'd be Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips. Christopher thought Leo wasn't happening due to Wolf of Wall Street being "Zero-Dark-Thirty'd". We had spent a lot of time agreeing but that ends, now.

CHRIS: I had always thought Whitaker would get in, simply because he's really great and Lee Daniels' The Butler seemed like a perfect Oscar movie, but that one just has not seemed to take. If Harvey gets The Butler a Best Picture nod, I wouldn't be surprised to see Whitaker in there, probably at the expense of Hanks. But that's just crazy talk, since Captain Phillips is lined up as one of the strongest films in major categories. The Redford SAG snub was shocking, he hasn't really campaigned, and Bruce Dern has stolen away Redford's slam-dunk narrative for a win ... but I would still be stunned if Redford doesn't get a nomination. That said: Sasha's theory about Bale getting nominated as proof of the strength of American Hustle is a good one, but a more likely scenario for me is an Adams nomination for Best Actress. Either way, I think one of those lead performances gets a nod for that film, so if Bale winds up in, maybe he steals Redford's slot?

KURT: Hey all. Sorry for the silence on my end. I was out pretty late last night, braving the bitter streets of SoHo tucked into my coat, like a latter day Llewyn Davis. On that note, I think it's absolutely criminal that Oscar Isaac won't be making it into our Best Actor five this year, but I've pretty much accepted that reality, and I guess it's appropriate given the character's non-trajectory.

Leonardo of Wall Street, 30 Years a Butler, and Best Actress after the jump...

Despite the SAG snub, I would be shocked if Redford didn't make the final five, even if "performance of the year" quotes from folks like Richard Corliss are wildly hyperbolic. Despite about 8 minutes of the best acting to be seen this year (I'm talking about Captain Phillips's climax and resolution, natch), Hanks suddenly seems like the vulnerable one. I actually don't think I'd be saying this if I didn't walk away from The Wolf of Wall Street thinking, like Chris, that Leonardo DiCaprio gave the best-goddamned performance of his career. And given the fact that we're seeing late-game support from guilds suggesting people are not, thankfully, turned off by Wolf's pitch-black satire, Leo seems like a very real possibility to me. I don't see Whitaker going all the way, though it hurts to see Sasha write, definitively, that The Butler doesn't invoke passionate support from people. Again, I'm just speaking for myself, but The Butler invoked such a more intense passionate response from me than 12 Years a Slave, as Lee Daniels has true directorial personality and soul whereas Steve McQueen has only formal showboating and intellectualization. But let's just leave that where it is.

Re: Supporting Actor, I'm feeling especially frustrated at this moment that I still haven't seen Rush, and though I knew Brühl had buzz, I clearly underestimated his long-game potential. That said, given Nathaniel's foot-planting narrowing down to seven contenders, I'm kind of surprised we're not still talking about Hanks being a possibility for Saving Mr. Banks. Isn't it conceivable that if he doesn't get in for Phillips (as unlikely as that seems), that he could end up here? This film has its problems, for sure, but Hanks ultimately does some heavy lifting to cap off his best year in, well, years. And I can't help but envision old-time voters being charmed by this movie. It's ultra-manipulative, yet pretty freakin' disarming. Finally, I have to say, while I agree with everyone that Gandolfini seems to have a real shot, I think it would be so shameless on the Academy's part to nominate him. I think he's perfectly fine in Enough Said, but no--I do not think he would have a conceivable shot if her were still living. No way. This is not Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight or Peter Finch in Network. This is a modest turn in a better-than-average indie that would not have gotten the amount of attention it did had Fox Searchlight not put all there might behind a posthumous sympathy plea. Sorry to be cynical, but it's pretty clear that them's the facts.

NATHANIEL: And here I was about to apologize for lack of readers for the lack of drama in this mini-symposium but you've saved me Kurt. I basically disagree with ... wait for it... almost every single word of this. I don’t subscribe to the idea that Wolf is Leonardo's best. I still think he's never topped What's Eating Gilbert Grape and, as an important related note, I am not the regular audience for easy praise of performances that require some sort of transformative gimmick like that one did; I almost always prefer organic character building with no easy hooks. I have to admit that the critical hallelujah chorus for Wolf has really rubbed me the wrong way. This was already discussed at length in the podcast so I'll spare you the repetition except to say that despite all my problems with the film, I am super proud of Leo for pushing himself. While I know Sasha doesn't share this feeling about his recent work - I don't know about Chris & Kurt -- I think his work had gotten really stale post The Departed, with too many tragic man-boy widowers / extravagant millionaires (it's inarguable: he repeats himself) so this star turn felt ice-water bracing to me in a way he hasn't managed since maybe Catch Me if You Can.

But, NEW TOPICS (Wolf of sure does suck up internet time),  I never thought I'd see the day where I bristled at compliments paid to director Lee Daniels (who is sorely underappreciated probably because he lacks discipline and because his films thrive on vivid divisive performances from actresses) but why must they always be paired with digs at Steve McQueen? 12 Years a Slave is a monumental picture... and Chiwetel Ejiofor's somewhat blank slate is realized in such a deep, thrilling, and artful way (those eyes!) that it just buries Whitaker's also blank slate (such a cipher role, played with so little punch). I'd be furious if Whitaker was nominated, actually, even though I like about half of his film a lot (the half that deals with his home life if you're wondering).  

And the Gandolfini thing... sooo wrong. It wasn't Fox doing that shamelessly but journalists! And his performance DOES merit the attention (again I’m a sucker for actors who can build whole three dimensional characterizations with literally no help from baity hooks) though I will agree he wouldn't be in the running without his untimely passing. But not because it isn't worthy work!

KURT: Nat, quick brief points: 1) I wholeheartedly agree that the neck-up/neck-down Wolf review to which you've been referring is odd, reprehensible, and borderline nuts. 2.) I am sorry to repeatedly compare Butler/Daniels to 12 Years/McQueen, as the last thing I want to do is narrow-mindedly lump the "big black movies" together, but how can you not relate them? They are two of the strongest films to ever emerge about black history, from black artists, and I don't know if I'll ever get over the fact that 12 Years stole almost all accolade hope away from the earlier release. Otherwise, I agree with everything you said about Ejiofor vs. Whitaker, but are you not comparing the two performances in kind of the same way I compared the pictures and directors? 3.) Fine, Gandolfini's attention can definitely be accredited to journalists too, but I distinctly recall Fox Searchlight doing some sort of release-date shifting and sending out a lot of Enough Said press releases shortly after Gandolfini's death, and we've been seeing the ripple effects ever since. (Again, people, I think he's perfectly lovely in the movie, but still...) Ack! That was not so brief! I'm officially the house troublemaker.

CHRIS: Nat and Kurt, I'm going to separate you two for the moment, even though you both bring up enough points to carry this discussion over into The Sixth Spot. (For the record: I'm on Kurt's side with regard to "Wolf," and Nat's with regard to "The Butler" and Gandolfini. That means you're ... both right?)

SASHA: What I love about Scorsese’s work of late, and throughout his career actually, is how he isn’t afraid to just dive into something inexplicable. Hugo, for instance, and its use of 3D. That magical world seems to exist in direct opposition to Scorsese’s nature. Except that it doesn’t. He brought to it his own childlike love for escapism into the movies. Shutter Island will be uncovered and dusted off in the future as being something akin to Vertigo once the whiff of “failure” is off of it. But he’s in his “wheelhouse” as it were with The Wolf of Wall Street. At 71, Scorsese is a highflying bird in film, one of the most daring directors working today. I can’t think of a single other director who dips so fearlessly into different genres — and keeps coming back for more even when he “fails” at them.

Lumping the three “black movies” in together is, I find, almost impossible to avoid. The reason being, we’ve had so many “black stories” told by white filmmakers over the years — at the same time, black directors have not been given the same myth-making status white directors have. Much of that, I believe, has to do with the majority of critics and bloggers being white and thus, only really wanting to celebrate stories they can relate to, film styles that they believe are most vivid. That has excluded the majority of black directors over the last thirty years, save a Spike Lee or two. Steve McQueen has utterly shattered that ceiling without even realizing it. As a British black man he has likely experienced a different world than African American directors over here, which makes it all the more remarkable that Fruitvale Station kind of, sort of, passed the critics test.  Lee Daniels The Butler has been mostly written off as being like The Help, the key difference between the two being virtually ignored. Finally, these three films represent key moments in the history of Civil Rights for African Americans in the US. 12 Years a Slaves about a free black man being forced into slavery — who can’t get free because the color of his skin condemns him. The Butler dives right into the 1960s and the Civil Rights era itself - the two divergent generations of African Americans on each side of the issue. Finally, Fruitvale Station brings us up to today - the racial profiling young black men are still confronted with every day of their lives. All three ought to be in the Best Picture race and yet because they are tied together that means people will likely choose BETWEEN them, opting for the ultimate winner, 12 Years a Slave. Whether 12 Years a Slave is beaten by American Hustle (please god no) or not, that won’t change what a landmark year it’s been for black filmmakers shattering that barrier that has long prevented them from being in the Oscar race at all.

CHRIS: The four of us have done a good job (pats self on back) tearing apart Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, but what of Best Actress? The conventional wisdom is that it's done, locked up, all over but the shouting: Five past Oscar winners. Five of the best actresses from the last 50 years. Except I don't buy it. As I written here, I think Amy Adams is getting one of those five spots. She's on an all-time run of performances here, not just with American Hustle, but also Her and, hell, even Man of Steel. This on the heels of The Master and The Fighter. Apologies to Sandra Bullock, but I actually don't think there's another major actress in Hollywood with skills as flexible as Adams. Put her in any genre, in any situation, and she'll figure out a way to make it work. She's quite good in American Hustle, doing a lot of subtle character work underneath the over-the-top-ness of her character. (That hair, that accent, that décolletage!)

BEST ACTRESS Blanchett | Bullock | Dench | Thompson 
THE FIFTH SPOT: Doubt reunion - Amy Adams vs. Meryl Streep

So! If she's in, who gets bumped out? To me, it's Streep. That movie, like The Butler, hasn't been accepted by the awards world. I thought it was a lot of messy fun with great performances throughout, but therein lies the rub: there are so many great performances, including but not limited to Roberts, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Chris Cooper and Sam Shepard, that Streep's seems less significant by comparison. (I guess you could make the same argument about American Hustle, but that film doesn't feel as suffocated by acting.) Streep's been nominated so many times, and so many times recently, that maybe she just gets left behind. Her performance is great, but not great. That could be the reason she gets bumped. Am I insane?

NATHANIEL: Chris, I think you're exactly right on why Streep is vulnerable... though she's such a reflexive choice for Academy members (and the precursor voting bodies are way too enamored of predicting to look beyond her) that she may coast in anyway. But will it really be Adams if Streep falls? Yes, American Hustle has some obvious momentum (the box office, guild notices and strong reviews don't hurt) but her performance is also divisive to some extent, like the weird complaints about her accent which is, um, supposed to sound fake! Plus, as with August, opinions on the MVP of the movie are varying wildly from one person to the next. I know it's wishful thinking to keep hoping for a shock nod to Brie Larson in Short Term 12, but if any young actress deserves that kind of career boost, isn't it her? The things that an Oscar nomination could do for her and the things it won't do for Meryl... (sigh).

If we were still living in the 1970s when Amy Adam's Lady Edith hustles, wouldn't it obviously be Adele Exarchopoulous whose name was called out?

KURT: I certainly agree with the consensus that Streep is by far the weakest of the all-but-solidified five. We all know there's no way in hell Blanchett, Bullock, or Thompson will be unseated, and Dench is so sublime in Philomena that a snub seems crazy. Streep, on the other hand, as folks here and friends I know have said, has produced a kind of fatigue among all viewers of her work, and I'm genuinely sorry to say that Violet Weston is the least impressive I've seen her in the 29 years I've been alive. Am I just suffering from the fatigue too? If I had my way, Amy Adams, who I agree is a viable threat, would absolutely be in for the best performance she's ever given (and no, I'm not forgetting Junebug or The Fighter). She gets to plumb such a wide variety of emotional territory in American Hustle, from vengeful assertiveness to laid-bare vulnerability, without ever stepping out of key in regard to Russell's madcap tone. And my prayer is that the absolutely astonishing Adele Exarchopoulous will, by some miracle, sneak in thanks to her film being one of the year's most talked about, and--as I'll assume Sasha has likely covered at some point--being the star of a, to put it crudely, T&A must-see that caught the attention of plenty of male voters.

That said, I'm still betting on Streep...because she's Streep. She will thus round out a commendable, but rather boring, Best Actress lineup

The Wrap Up

NATHANIEL: so... there you have it. We're mostly not, as a collective, expecting true surprises for the fifth spot though we have varying degrees of faith that some obvious "currently in sixth place" candidates will make it happen in the end... which is really the beginning.

Thanks for playing along!

EXIT QUESTION! is there any below the line category where you genuinely feel it's a free-for-all for nominations or where you think we will see a specific awesome/terrible surprise happen? I keep thinking Short Term 12 is going to get a single nomination (actress, screenplay or song?) because people like me haven't been able to shut up about it and surely the voters have at least considered "considering" it by now, if you get me.

SASHA: I love that idea, Nat. Short Term 12 sneaking in anywhere would be awesome. I keep thinking we’ll see some upsets in the Best Director category. I know it isn’t below the line but that’s where I think the surprises might happen. As for below the line, I’d love to see Alex Ebert get in for Original Score. It seems like the longest of shots but you just never know. Thanks so much for inviting me to join in!

CHRIS: Count me in for "Team Short Term 12". Maybe a screenplay or song nomination isn't that crazy. After all, as Nat said, almost everyone seems to love that film without reservation. Another Best Song candidate I could see getting a surprise nod: "100$ Bill." Lana Del Rey had gotten most of The Great Gatsby attention thus far, but given the chance to have Jay Z and, more important, Beyonce at the Oscars, will voters really ignore this one? Probably, but I'm still holding out hope. Thanks for inviting me to chat about all this! Enjoy watching the Globes!

KURT: Hey again, folks. Looks like I'm the one wrapping things up here.  I was just in a car cruising from NY to Phila., and listening, as it happens, to The Great Gatsby soundtrack (fingers firmly crossed that "Young and Beautiful" and/or "Over the Love" get included on 1/16). As for Short Term 12 and Brie Larson, given the surprising amount of attention they've received, I wouldn't be shocked but, sadly, I don't find them deserving. While I admire the accuracy and shrewdness with which Destin Cretton depicts formerly troubled, semi-reformed individuals working with younger versions of themselves, and think Keith Stanfield should absolutely be in the Supporting Actor lineup, I do not love that film without reservation. I know this is the wrong place to diss the movie (I love you, Nat!), but I think there are way too many contrivances that bog down its better intentions. That said, I think an Original Song nod for Stanfield's wrenching rap would be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Forget the rest of the movie. That moment, followed by the traumatic haircut, reduced me to shambles, and it's up there with my favorite scenes of 2013.

It would be so cool if the music branch had the cojones/savvy to go for it (though they shouldn't forget about Gatsby stuff, Frozen's "Let it Go," and Pharrell's "Happy" from Despicable Me 2!) As for below the line picks , I, too, will go with Director for potential shake-ups and holy-shit surprises. Though Blue Jasmine feels like it's being directed by Cate Blanchett, the film's late support, which Chris acknowledged, prompts me to say there's a teeny glimmer of hope for Woody here. And while I totally get why a lot of critics hate it, I don't know why more people aren't talking about Saving Mr. Banks as an actual Academy heavyweight (no one here acknowledged my Hanks-in-Supporting comment!). It's got a PGA nod, true hopes in major categories, aural categories, and visual categories, and industry back patting to boot. I think it may wind up being the film with the most nods that doesn't win anything, and if I had to put my money on one out-of-the-blue surprise, it'd be a nomination for director and Blind Side veteran John Lee Hancock. Thanks folks! And thanks for the patience. Great to hear everyone's thoughts.

Chris Rosen, Kurt Osenlund, Nathaniel R, Sasha Stone, and You

 

It's all over but the commenting! Have at it.

 

  • Who are your "out of the blue" suspicions?
  • Do you think Amy Adams or Brie Larson will topple La Streep?
  • Are you okay with the way Lee Daniels The Butler, Fruitvale, and 12 Years a Slave have been lumped together or discussed this year?
  • What about Best Director... could we have a shocker shortlist like last year?

 

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Reader Comments (61)

Amy Adams and the accent - I think it's just weird that she says 'I'm not British' and every British person watching goes '?????' because we never even considered that she was... it feels a bit strange and excludes us, as if we weren't in on the joke!

This isn't like Ryan Philippe in Gosford Park, where his (actually quite passable) Scottish accent is questioned by other characters from the off...

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKermit The Frog

A movie about Margaret Thatcher directed by Phyllida Lloyd=2 Oscars
A Pulitzer award and multiple Tony winning play=0 Oscars

That's reality. How ironic.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Sorry but Streep is in!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

"Amy Adams and the accent - I think it's just weird that she says 'I'm not British' and every British person watching goes '?????' because we never even considered that she was... "

It is made clear since the *beginning* of the film - in the scene she pretends to leave Bale's office then returns - that it was a put-on.

It seems to me people are just not paying attention to the movie.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

Doesn't Amy Adams' character make up the accent early in the film well before she says "I'm not British" though? Forgive me if I'm jumbling the timeline in my head, that movie jumbles itself so much I can't help it, but I feel as if the movie always lets us in on the joke that she's pretending to be British and BADLY, and the joke is that all these supposedly big time people they're swindling never clue into the fact that it's an obviously awful accent that just comes and goes. Anyway that was my favorite thing about the movie, give or take Elizabeth Rohm's hairdo.

Anyway I'm just so beyond sad that Frances Ha isn't even conversation any more, I'm gonna go sit in the corner and eat wet cigarette butts.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJA

I started feeling Meryl fatigue around Rendition and Doubt.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

i think the only safe bets for actress are for Blanchett, Dench, and Streep (needless to say, the oscars LOVE her)
Bullock is quite versatile,
but imo it's thompson, who will be replaced by adams in the noms
thompson's role is just so Unlikeable,
and as i recall, the oscar is lustfully after babes, so lucky you, amy!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercraver

I would love to see Brie Larson sneaks in the top 5 but since there is no screener being sent out to AMPAS member, I really can't see her being nominated. At this time and age, no screener sent equals death sentence in term of hope of being nominated. I hope I will be proven wrong on nomination morning but I won't get my hopes up.

I am a bit conflicted about the 5th spot for best actress. I can see how the voters have Mery; "fatigue". However, they have nominated her before for many considered weak performance ("Music of the Heart"; though I like her performance). And though I like Adams, in some way, I am not keen on her racking up so many nominations in short period of time; maybe because I think her noms for 'Doubt" and "The Master" are undeserved. I guess what will make me happy if the 5th spot is taken by Adele, Greta Gerwig or Julie Delpy.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Sasha is right on the money about the "Big Black 3" and ditto goes for everyone's thoughts on Amy Adams. I want her in the #5 spot, and I won't be disappointed if both Streep and Thompson get "snubbed." (And then Exarchopoulous or Larson can get in, too.)

ScarJo, Jonze, ScarJo, Jonze, ScarJo, Jonze, ScarJo, Jonze...

PS. I guess you've all heard about Armond White by now...

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

the problem with Amy Adams' accent is not that it sounded fake (it was supposed to sound fake), but that it was inconsistent. Throughout the movie I was wandering whether Cooper's character knew she wasn't really British or there were some miscalculations, because she spoke with American accent all the time (or that's how it sounded to me), and no one noticed anything. then in the scene when she revealed her true identity and Cooper asked "what happened to your accent?", I realized that it wasn't in the script for anyone to realize that before... something went wrong there with that accent thing. in the scenes where Sydney (American) was pretending to be Edith (British), Amy Adams (actress) seemed to forget which one she was suppose to play. but it's not just her fault. it's Russell's too. or maybe mine, if I'm wrong.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrace

Still can't figure out why Dench is a lock. Is it because she is an older actress and might not get any more leading parts? Compared to what Riva did last year in AMOUR, I just don't get the love for this particular performance. And I'm a huge Judi fan.
How wonderful it would be for someone like Brie, Adele, or Greta to take the fifth slot.

I'm with Nathaniel on Gandolfini's potential nom.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

everyone wants the old ladies out! :( (and then we complain about the academy)

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

In terms of what is more LIKELY to happen, I'd rather see Amy Adams get the 5th spot than Streep. I completely agree with the "Streep fatigue" that's been going on lately, and Amy Adams was just OUTSTANDING in American Hustle (in my opinion, she was the best part of the movie, and I think it may have been her best performance in her career). However, if I had to make a pick based on personal preference, then somehow, both Brie Larson and Julie Delpy would end up in the Top 5. They both just seemed like REAL people, as opposed to actors giving off the clear "I'm acting right now" vibe (which I've gotten far too many times before from Streep). However, that's the issue, isn't it? When it doesn't really seem that they're acting at all, nobody acknowledges the expertise (that goes more for Delpy than Larson, but still).

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I think a lot of people have been disappointed with Dench in Philomena that I've heard. I don't understand why McConaughey is safe when all these great performances are looking to get in from the outside and all these guys on the inside (Hanks, Redford) are on the chopping block. McConaughey was the epitome of mediocrity just a couple years ago. I do plan on watching Dallas Buyers Club ASAP, though.

Lastly, Amy Adams was wonderful in American Hustle. I'd even give her the win over Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOrrin Konheim

My Amy Adams accent woes are actually about her American accent: why does a girl from Albuquerque have a Jersey accent?!

My below the line surprise is not so surprising if you think about it but it sounds weird to say: Her gets only two nominations, for Best Picture and screenplay.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Wow, Nathaniel, I agreed with almost everything you said, especially about 12 Years a Slave. I worry that it will show surprising weakness, missing out in one of the major categories, probably in favor of the muddled and often boring American Hustle. For example, people are put off by McQueen, who is not pretending to be an artist but actually is one. I personally think he's a blast of fresh air, articulate, intense, with no fear of being ambitious, all the qualities you need to create art rather than ephemera.

As Evan said, what bothered me about Amy Adams's accents (she had two: the fake British accent and the American one) was that her character was supposed to be from Albuquerque, but her American accent sounded East Coast. I guess we're supposed to make some imaginative leap about how pliable her character is to her surroundings, but it threw me out of the film. As for the fake British accent, it was obviously and intentionally bad, but in a way that didn't quite match the antic comic tone of the movie. It was too "subtle." I guess one man's "subtle" is another man's "dull." I fear that Adams will get her fifth nomination, and anyone who cares about movies should grasp that she comes nowhere near the talent or charisma of the other women who have received five nominations. Whenever I hear her slightly nasal monotone, I want to plug my ears.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

I think the biggest problem for Amy Adams is that the role doesn't feel like a true lead. For me, none of cast did because this was truly an ensemble piece. Even Bale as the protagonist is off screen for large chunks at a time. As good as I think she is, she doesn't have the showiest part (those belong to Lawrence and Cooper. Bale at least gets to be chubby and balding). The fatigue may have set in a bit, but I think Streep is in. When was the last time she missed when making any sort of impact with precursors? I don't think that enough people will have seen either Short Term 12 or Frances Ha, with Blue Is the Warmest Color, being the big question mark for me (can it pull the same noms that Amour did, minus the notice for Best Picture?). Hell, at the end of the day maybe Adams is in, simply because she was in everything as you guys pointed out.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal

If Best Director had an unexpected shakeup, how about this lineup?
Alfonso Cuaron
Steve McQueen
Richard Linklater
Nicole Holofcener
Frederick Wiseman

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

No one I know who has seen Philomena is "disappointed" with Dench's performance, although some may have problems with the film. And many people love it. A nomination for this would be more welcome than the ones for Mrs Henderson Presents or Chocolat.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

When did Bullock became a "GREAT" actress?

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

JA and Brace - It's really shocking to me that Adams is getting pegged with this. The plot was really not that hard to follow, IMO, and the idea that her work is getting slammed as inconsistent when people aren't following when she would and would not use the accent drives me crazy. It's a brilliant piece of work, and a difficult one, so please go back and take a look at when it is used before making that claim. Feel free to point out actual moments when she is using it incorrectly. It's done with purpose, and it's done flawlessly. (JA, yes, we hear her accent in the first scene, but as you may recall that is when the sting with Carmine is first happening, then we flash back to her first meeting with Irving and move forward from there.)

I could easily see Director surprising us (why does everyone assume Greengrass is such a lock?), and sadly, I agree with Sasha that 12 Years/The Butler/Fruitvale will be compared. I personally don't mind the other two falling out that much since I had issues with both, and thought they weren't anywhere near as good as 12 Years a Slave. Still, this happens all the time. I read articles this holiday season where Black Nativity was compared to (or more often equated with) the new Madea film, and if these movies featured white actors, there is no way those two would be equated. Why is it so hard for people to understand that movies featuring actors of the same race may have nothing in common?

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Brie Larson will absolutely positively get the 5th spot I'm so confident I'll go to Vegas and put my money where my mouth is. Stanfield will get in for best original song. I've been driving sasha crazy over at awards daily with my non stop campaigning for Short Term 12, if it isshutout come Oscar time its a disgrace

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

I saw American Hustle in a crowded London cinema and when "Lady Edith" reveals to Bradley Cooper she's not English people burst into laughter. Her accent was so embarrassing, but not "funny in this hustling scenario embarrassing". I thought Amy was by far the weakest link in AH (which is such a messy, sloppy film, I don't get what the big deal is). I think it'll be ridiculous if she gets Meryl's spot - which in any case, as much as I adore Meryl Streep, should be Adele's.

I think the Academy loves Meryl too much, they gave her an Oscar for The Iron Lady after all. And Jennifer Lawrence steals all the scenes she's in, which is not good for Amy or Christian Bale.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I like Amy Adams a lot. She was fantastic in Her. But Hustle is my least favorite of her performances. She looked lost and I didn't believe her desperation at all. I think she was stranded by how poorly written her part was. Where's the fire and grit she showed in The Fighter? Or the openess and light she was in Enchanted? That is one nomination I am against.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Sasha-while Marty crosses genres quite well and frequently, I think Ang Lee deserves the title of "director who dips so fearlessly into different genres" the most.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

I agree with Craver about Blanchett, Streep and Dench being the top three right now. I can't stand Sandra Bullock in Gravity and why she is on everyone's list - Robert Redford did it SO MUCH BETTER in All Is Lost (my favorite movie so far this year) and with the not-so-much-there support for Saving Mr. Banks, Emma Thompson does feel a bit shaky. I am so out on a limb but I would love to see Kate Winslet sneak in for Labor Day - that way my top three are all there - Streep, Blanchett, Winslet :) on my last note - Amy Adams was not that good in American Hustle, so I don't understand everyone falling over themselves. The movie wasn't even that good. I had the thought watching it that it was like Will and Grace, where Will and Grace are ok but you watch for Jack and Karen - American Hustle was all Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTony

OMG this accent-nazi thing is getting so annoying

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Adams failed with her accent several times but I'm not sure it was the actress of the director and I would lean towards the latter. What I missed most about AH was no one except Lawrence (and some of the other support) seemed to be enjoying themselves, either as actors or as characters. Adams (and Sydney/Lady Edith) should have been riding that roller coaster for all it was worth, but instead I felt they were just trying to keep the dogs at bay. I would have liked to have seen far more distinction in Adams accent use, but I think the slips might have been Russel trying to be arty---something which he is incapable of.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I agree with Sasha that Best Director feels like the major category most ripe for a surprise. McQueen, Cuaron, and Russell are the locks, and I seriously doubt we'll see a surprise snub for any of them this year like we did for Affleck and Bigelow last year. I didn't have Russell in my predictions until just 2 weeks or so ago when I finally accepted that American Hustle was a major player, but now I'd be shocked if he were snubbed. Greengrass is in the fourth slot, and he's in the "sort of a lock, but not really" area. I don't think he'll be snubbed because Captain Phillips seems like a strong contender across the board, but certainly it would not be a HUGE shock if he missed out.

That fifth slot, though, is kind of wide open. Upon just hearing that Scorsese got the DGA nod, I'm still not convinced he'll get the Oscar nomination. I equate this to Fincher getting nominated for Dragon Tattoo. It's a divisive film that happened to have a hugely respected auteur at the helm, so it had an advantage at the DGA. Besides, the DGA lineup very rarely matches the Oscar lineup 5/5. Scorsese is obviously a strong possibility, but I think there's also Jonze and Payne. But as far as real surprises that I think are nonetheless within the realm of possibility (albeit remote)? Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Poor Greta Gerwig. Can't even get a mention for the finest acting of the year in this piece talking about who's running behind the presumptive Top Five. I keep deluding myself into thinking that that surprise Globe nomination means more people will see Frances Ha and realize how incredible she is. Unfortunately, all the "indie darling" heat is going to Brie Larson instead. Which - good for her, she had a stellar year between Short Term 12, Spectacular Now, and Don Jon. But Greta. Poor Greta.

Not that she probably cares, but I DO, DAMMIT!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I think we are ignoring that a lot of people DiD really love Streep in August. As far as I am concerned she is probably the only nomination the film may get... It is not like Streep has not overcome greater odds..
And Adams? A multiple 5 time Oscar nominee in such a short time...??? For also a mixed performance?

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

If Adams gets in amongst a line-up of all winners, do we think she has an outside shot at winning (i.e., Adrien Brody) or is Blanchett unstoppable at this point?

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

cal roth-- thank you for saying what I've been thinking for a LONG time, at least since the earliest screening of AH. People zero in on the weirdest shit to nitpick...

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Amy Adams is a great actress and she had some great moments in "American Hustle" but overall she did not found the center of her accent... i mean character. Still, I see an opportunity for Adams to be nominated. After all, it is a more gentle year for Best Actress. I hope that Cate Blanchett gets her second Academy Award and even more I would have wished that they would made it something more exciting, heavier competitors. Many performances were very good but not really a great one (but Cate was great!). "The Butler", to integrate Oprah in the Best Actress cathegory would spice up this year. Best Actor is much more crowded as Best Actress. Hanks, McConaughey, Chiwetel, Dern appear to be clearly nominated. Unfortunately I could not see "Her" but is there a possibility if "Her" is not only nominated for Screenplay but also for Best Picture that Joaquin Phoenix would sneak in? My money is on Redford.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersteolicious

Pam -- agreed. but then december releases are always like this. people just go insane at the tail end when there is too much to think about and awards are breathing fire on everything and no one seems to be able to see clearly in the smoke... I include myself in this, actually. It's a tough time of year for real perspective which is why it's hilarious that ti's the time of year when all the decisions for posterity are made.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Everyone harps on Amy's accent, but no one cares that PL Travers was Australian and Thompson didn't change her natural accent for the role at all (just like Texan Tommy Lee Jones playing a Yankee last year).

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

And the winner of Best Line in the Mini-Symposium goes to...Kurt, for this: "...Blue Jasmine feels like it's being directed by Cate Blanchett..."

Though, given how badly directed the movie is, it seems unfair to saddle Cate with that baggage!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

sanfran -- HAHA. and yes, that was a good line

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Was Lady Edith supposed to be good with the accent? She's a smalltime grifter. Her and Irving lay low to thrive. Richie was clearly portrayed as incompetent enough to fall for them and specifically, her. The American accent never bothered me. Sometimes when people move around they adopt that regional accent and lose their own. My mother lived in Long Island her whole life but her accent softened when she moved Upstate; ever so often it came out.

I don't get the Amy hate at all. Most disappointing performance? She's the one with the trickiest role. We never know for sure if she likes Richie and is over Irving until much later in the film. It's a role more rewarding on re-watch.

I can deal with the people who say Meryl was good, deserves a nod, as she is sight unseen and I won't judge but the Meryl stans who think it'll be a stain on the Academy for not nominating her when they too have not seen it, irk me.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Um, did any of you SEE Blue is the Warmest Color? Adele Ex. should be the ONLY BA lock (along with Blanchett, of course). The others were great performances, but none were nearly as impressive as Adele (and Cate). I'm still praying for a miracle.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChase Hilton

CMG--I don't think she was supposed to be good with the accent, but it kept going in and out, even in scenes when she was alone with Bale and it didn't matter. Thats what bothered me. If this girl was bright enough to go from stipper to Cosmo, she is bright enough to keep an accent together.

Grifters enjoy being grifters. Its like the ultimate con. I wanted to see a lot more of that psycho joy a la Bening in "The Grifters" or Stanyck in "The Lady Eve" or Turner in "Prizzi's Honor" Even when they get caught, as she did in AH, they are looking for a way out or a way to turn it to their advantage. It was in the story, but she played (was directed to play) victim. I blame Russell.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I wonder if this year, like last year, is one that seems quiet but has quite a few surprises come up on nomination morning. Last year there were four actors (Cotillard, Mirren, Hawkes, Kidman) by my count who got both SAG and GG noms but didn't get Oscar noms. Instead you had unexpected love for Amour and Beasts. If any films show up with unexpected love this year my guesses are Her, Llewen Davis, and Wolf. The two Tom Hanks movies, meanwhile, I think could fall out.

I think Redford's SAG snub may actually help him, since it should spur supporters of that film to move him up on their list. I still think Isaac may get in, since they sometmes go for the "up and comer" thing, although that hasn't helped Fassbender recently.

I think Streep gets a lot of #1 votes and makes it. A lot of people like to see her Acting with an A. Most of the Hurricane Streep movies (like Doubt, for instance) earn her a nom, even with detractors. Maybe Amy moves into Emma's place, since people who like that movie seem to be singling out that performance.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Henry - But isn't the movie not only about deceiving others but also deceiving yourself? To me, Amy Adams gives one of the few performances this year that with every repeat viewing shows more layers to it. The ins and outs of the slightly off accents are part of this deception from the other characters, her character, and the viewers.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

brendan, great comment. didn't realize amy would be up to 5 noms. that's crrrazzy. i think someone like sarah paulson, who hasn't even 1 to her name, is a better actress. amy was ok in junebug but everything else is iffy. she's a good not great actress with great luck. i always laugh when people use "layers" to describe something in a movie so subtle and brilliant they can't explain it. where exactly are these layers? in the projector, under the celluloid, in the hard drive, behind the theater screen?

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterxander

I'll throw my hat in the ring as a Hustle detractor, since the momentum seems to be firmly against us all. The movie is a convoluted mess, so I hope Russell isn't nominated at least, and Adams' performance struck me as surprisingly flat-footed. And I even thought she was the MVP in last year's The Master. JLaw deserves a nomination more simply for making AH watchable, IMO.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

I'm with Steve. To me if the accents Sydney/Edith had came off seamless, that would put into question why her and Irving keep their operation at that very small level (let's remember they were forced by the FBI to continue their conning) and also would not feel completely right within the David O. Russell style. To me the messiness of the film, the characters, accents, is completely befitting for the movie.

Honestly, Jennifer Lawrence had just as much accent trouble and she wasn't under a different identity. There were times she sounded Long Island, I have to believe she has never left her house, and other times she just sounded like herself. Yet she's the favorite, the scene-stealer, the person who supposedly makes the movie watchable. She's the character who can never change or transform, yet she is stumbling in that accent. If there were an accent to zero in on, it's that one.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

In my experience, Long Islanders play up or down the accent depending on circumstance more than any other accent. So JL deserves a little leeway, and I think she got it within bounds.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

"No one I know who has seen Philomena is "disappointed" with Dench's performance"

Okay, well I know: 1) me, 2) my boyfriend, and 3) one other person who's seen Philomena.

You can count all three of us as Disappointed with Dench's performance (and I'm never disappointed with Dench's performances - she was excellent in Mrs Henderson) even though two of us liked the film (I myself very much didn't).

You can also count at least two - and potentially all three - of us as Horrified at her prospective nomination over Delpy, Gerwig, Louis Dreyfus, Adams etc etc.

Meantime I actually wasn't completely blown away by Larson in Short Term 12. The character's entire backstory just felt so awkwardly tacked on in a Sundance Lab way, and I don't think Larson could successfully get past that. Although she was excellent for the most part.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

As sad as this makes me, I think Actress is the most locked category this year. Or maybe I'm just trying not to get my hopes up. Streep and Dench aren't going anywhere.

I'm sure this may have been said, but the predicted Actress line up would be an all-nominated veteran list, like Supporting Actor last year. If that category goes Fassbender, Leto, Abdi, Gandolfini, and Brühl, it would be an all-newcomer lineup in terms of Oscar nominations.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I'd like to think, of the Female Acting Leads, Bullock would be the weakest. I know I'm going against convention but Gravity and Bullock did nothing for me. I suppose the special effects were good, but that's it. I'd bump Bullock and add Amy Adams.

I also thought Judi Dench gave a very strong performance in a very good film this year. I think it's going to be difficult to dismiss Streep because of the pedigree of A:OC.

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

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