Each year as the first "wow" factor players emerge in the Oscar race, pundits (professional and amateur alike), jump all over themselves to declare "winners!" in each of the acting races several months in advance. I always want to pass on analgesic creams when this begins to happen but then I'm more patient than some Oscar fans and prefer the slow sexy fight for nominations to the wham bam foregone conclusions of Oscar night. If you believe the internet Cate Blanchett has it locked up in Best Actress (on the strength of her work in Blue Jasmine) and Oprah Winfrey has it locked up in Supporting Actress (on the rush of excitement that's greeted Lee Daniels' The Butler and her against type work... if you can have a type when you rarely act.) The only trouble is that no one has seen their competition. And your competition is half the equation at least as to whether or not you'll win. (One example: Does Reese Witherspoon's Walk the Line win in a highly competitive year? I think not.)
The male categories are less clear though we've already heard quite a few "Leonardo DiCaprio finally has it for The Wolf of Wall Street!" (on the strength of his meme-worthy dancing and lively charisma in the trailer) and some have floated Bruce Dern as your future Supporting Actor winner for Nebraska... though his campaign remains a question mark. Nebraska, we know, is one of those Two Lead/Same Gender films that Oscar's acting branch has forgotten how to parse. Nobody ever tried to suggest that Salieri or Amadeus were supporting each other or that the true lead of Thelma & Louise was Thelma OR Louise but they would if those films opened today because times have changed and fans and campaign managers got increasingly shameless.
So will any of these four win? Quite possibly, sure. But they could also all lose. One or more of them might not even be nominated! We haven't seen most of the competitive sets and until the great winnowing of December begins when the precursor awards race in to borify the entire race... let's keep an open mind and enjoy the wide world of possibilities!
OSCAR CHART UPDATES
Best Actress - Will Amy give Cate B a run for her money with Meryl maybe dropping out?
Best Supporting Actress - Can Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer stay in the conversation as Oprah sucks up all the late summer oxygen?
Best Actor -It might come down to Leo vs. Matthew unless Old Hollywood rallies for career honors for Dern or Redford or someone else surprises. Oh god, please let there be surprises this year!
Best Supporting Actor - only the editors know... seriously... nothing has happened yet. (sigh)
more updates to follow on the remaining charts