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« Team Top Ten: Best TV to Film Adaptations of All Time | Main | Review: Double Linklater with 'Boyhood' and 'Double Play' »
Friday
Jul182014

Oscar Updates: Acting Pairs and Young Bucks

The chart updates continue. I've been thinking a lot about Foxcatcher and Love is Strange and whether or not Sony Pictures Classics will have the guts to campaign all four of those male leads as leads. Essentially they'd be asking for 80% of the category which would be extremely ballsy (no pun intended with four sets of them) but also honest. For these July updates I'm fantasizing that they will.

Eddie Redmayne, David Oyelowo, and Channing Tatum are just three of the fresh crop of leading men who might be competing for Oscar gold for real life roles

But the funny thing is: Best Actor is enormously crowded without any of that acclaimed quartet. Playing a real life character won't even get you very far because most lead actors are doing just that, thereby dulling its time-tested competitive advantage. I count at least 10 possibly major contenders this year in biographical roles: Cumberbatch, Redmayne, Oyelowo, Carell, Tatum, Spall, Boseman, O'Connell, Hill and Maguire. And that's not including Christoph Waltz who I'm now guessing will try his luck doing the co-lead as supporting thing again for Big Eyes which has worked well for him twice before; he's like the Poster Boy for Category Fraud.

The most exciting thing about the Best Actor Chart? Most of them have never been nominated so we're likely to have a real fresh quintet. With all these true stories in 2014 Supporting Actor may well be filled to bursting with real life, too, albeit without as many newbies in the mix. Good luck to the originals I say who have to create three-dimensional characters from whole cloth and the never nominated who are eager to be let in throughthe golden door.

Breaking Jack O'Connell?
On Emmy nomination morning this new trailer emerged for Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, a World War II drama which is likely to be a major breakthrough event for its lead actor Jack O'Connell, especially given that he's already shown true star charisma according to everyone who has seen his raw prison drama Starred Up (also due this year). But there are three potential obstacles to a presumed Best Actor run.

1. The man he's playing, Louis Zamperini, just died and those can be tricky waters to navigate in terms of film releases and campaigning without seeming exploitative about it (see Mandela's tip toe last year)

2. AMPAS is not as predictable these days with what we might well call 'classic Oscar bait'. They've been getting friskier with their choices for some time now (think of that 2006 win and then the entire 2007 lineup and so on through the now: Amour? Beasts of the Southern Wild? etcetera) . Old school 'triumph of the human spirit' epics and glossy WWII pics are no longer sure things. 

3. Jack O'Connell turns 24 next month. That's extremely young for Best Actor. For some context should O'Connell be nominated for this role with lots of hooks (crying, real life character, accent, weight loss, heroism) he will be the 2nd youngest nominee of the modern era, just a shade older than John Travolta was for his zeitgest 1977 blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. (Mickey Rooney and Jackie Cooper were even younger for their noms but that was back in the 30s and early 40s). Only one actor in his 20s has ever won the top prize and that was Adrien Brody for The Pianist, three weeks shy of his 30th birthday.

updated Oscar charts
BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESSSUPPORTING ACTOR, SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Reader Comments (23)

I so want Fiennes to get in. He's basically the male Julianne Moore, someone who works so consistently and is so good that they take him for granted. That said, I agree with his placement on the chart - he's basically going to be a borderline nominee at best, which is insane.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I think the biggest thing standing in Jack O'Connell's way is that the trailer looked pretty awful. Who lifts imagery from Forrest Gump with a serious face?

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Yes - it would be great to see Fiennes back as a nominee. Such a great,
underrated actor.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I really think SPC is going to push Steve Carrel in lead and both Ruffalo and Tatum in supporting.
I haven't seen the movie so I don't know how big of category fraud that campaign will be but it makes the most sense for them to do it that way in order to get nominations for all three.

There are couple scenarios regarding Steve Carrel placement. If they want a most likely win, they will push him in supporting with Mark Ruffalo and push Channing Tatum in lead. If they want to gamble with nominations, they will push Carrell in lead and the other 2 in supporting and hope for the best Carrell can win with extensive campaign.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

"Unbroken" looks too self-serious. The motivational speechifying from his brother was cringe-worthy. It might turn out better, but right now the trailer makes it look too stereotypical Oscar-bait.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Hoping your prediction for Wilkinson comes about. I have no doubt the
performance will be top notch...

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

You're underestimating Joaquin due to his snub from last year. Scott Rudin has seen an early version of Inherent Vice. He says it's the best work he has seen from Joaquin so far.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Jack O'Connell was really good in Starred Up, but I thought Ben Mendelsohn really stole the show there.

I'm already mourning Ralph Fiennes not getting a nomination so I'm psychologically prepared.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I really don't see Cumberbatch making it. I think his movie career has showed that he's just not a movie star. He was perfectly cast for Sherlock, but I just don't think he has much range and lacks charisma on the big screen.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I'd really like to hope, however unrealistically, that the two Agatas from Ida, and in particular Agata Kulesza, could be considered.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

For the first time in awhile Best Actor may be more interesting than Best Actress.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Definitely hoping for Fiennes and Phoenix. Honestly Best Actor looks wide open right now.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterT-Bone

Having seen the film, I think Carrel as Lead is a strech, especially compared to Tatum (and Lithgow and Molina). But he's the movie's best chance, so who knows. I also feel s Tatum nomination would really be undeserved. But that's just me...

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

"Unbroken" looks like jingoistic, cliched propaganda from the American Exceptionalism sausage factory.

But who knows. If Jack O'Connell can act, he might just make the kind of splash that lands him with a nomination.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Glad you've added Takamasa Ishihara for "Unbroken". If this hits, which I have serious doubts about, watch out for him. Also, I think it's absolutely nuts Joaquin isn't in your top 15! He's in my top 5. But yeah, really competitive year, as always.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

@ Rebecca

I think if you had seen all of Benedict Cumberbatch's work you would not say he lacks range or on-screen charisma. Contrast Hawking with Van Gogh or Khan with Stuart, a Life Backwards or Parade's End and Sherlock, such different roles and charisma in spades. Even the two roles in the on stage Frankenstein were worthy of the triple crown of British theatre.

It is too early to say but I think The Imitation Game will be good and the first impressions from the test screening were very positive.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

What fun! This is one of the most entertaining parts of the year when everything is wide open and we're looking forward with pleasure to seeing performances.

I'd add to the possibilities category:
Supporting Actor: Ethan Hawke in Boyhood and Michael Pena in Fury
Supporting Actress: Mia Wasikowska in Only Lovers Left Alive
Actress: Keira Knightley in Begin Again
Actor: Michael Shannon in Midnight Special.

I'm wondering if Brad Pitt might get more attention this year for Fury. If you leave it too late (eg like with Harrison Ford) you don't have a performance to award movie stars for.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Channing Tatum may well WIN Best Supporting Actor if he's campaigned there so I expect that to happen. He has serious momentum. Can you imagine: Magic Mike propels two hot under-respected actors to acclaim and Oscar wins?

And about Jack O'Connell, that guy puts 110% into Starred Up. There's one scene in which he's riled up where I will never forget the intensity and realness of his facial expression.

Also, consider Carey Mulligan if Far From the Madding Crowd is pushed up to 2014. Costume Design too.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Sorry to say Nate, but I think you need to drop Love is Strange completely from you predictions. It's not Oscar's cuppa, and it hasn't been universally praised which a film like that would need to be. The performances aren't "showy" enough for Oscar traction either.

I know that when it played at the Sydney Film Festival, the response was tepid at best. Even I had huge reservations about it, and thought it was very flawed.

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoFo

Nathaniel, I don't know what pain McConaughey's win caused you, but I think it's time to let go of it, say goodbye to Jeff and put Matthew in the Best Actor banner. ;-)

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

I have a feeling Brad Pitt May sneak into the top five at years end. He
seems to be aging well and picking interesting projects. The academy may
show their approval with a nod for FURY...

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I'd like to see Fassbender get in for best actor, but I agree that Shakespeare is probably an obstacle. Ralph Fiennes's very fine Coriolanus was essentially ignored by the Academy. And yes, I like Fiennes as well. He is overdue. I'm not sure Grand Budapest Hotel is a strong enough vehicle, though.

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRachele

I was just looking at predictions for best actor and besides I believe Ralph Fiennes, it looks like they all would be first time nominees. The last time this happened (my math/history could be wrong) was best supporting actress in 1999 and for best actor was 1934! Would be great to see it happen.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa's

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