It's been an enormously busy week with precursor decisions confusing and clarifying in equal measure. Even if you don't put much stock in the Critic's Choice Awards (also known as the BFCA, an organization that includes your host) it'll be interesting to see what they come up with since ballots were due today and so many questions remain. Though the organization prides itself on Oscar predictive power (a very weird thing to pride yourself on unless you're a pundit rather than a critic) the confusing nature of the race won't make things easy on any pundit.
While I've been accused of overthinking various races often (who, me?) such is the curse of punditry and Oscar obsessiveness. Here's where I think we stand now...
PICTURE & DIRECTOR If this race we're taking place in 2008 with the old school five-wide race it would obviously be Spotlight, The Martian, Carol, The Revenant, and Room at this point with one of the directors jettisoned for Mad Max's overachievement by George Miller. Beyond that it's so complicated both because we don't know how many nominees we'll get and because seven other pictures still seem plausible as a Best Picture nominee for one reason or another though they had shakier reactions in these first two precursor weeks. For instance: Creed hasn't been doing all that well but I still think it's a big Oscar possibility. Am I crazy or just concussed? And speaking of...
ACTOR While I don't imagine we'll see a repeat of Will Smith's Globe nominated Concussion performance on the Oscar shortlist it's one of about ten performances that still seem to be in the race. You'll have to cleave that in half in January. DiCaprio, Redmayne, Fassbender, and Cranston all have the key nominations (Globe & SAG) but each year at least one or two people across the four categories with that combo miss and you need #1 votes given the Academy's nomination tallying system. So which performances or beloved actors have the most passion behind them? This is why I still think Michael B Jordan or even Sir Ian could surprise despite the lack of SAG or Globe love; it's always important to remember that those voting bodies are quite dissimilar to Oscar's acting branch.
SUPPORTING ACTOR Precursors have coalesced around Michael Shannon, Idris Elba, and Mark Rylance but because the former two weren't what people widely expected, CHAOS REIGNS. Sly Stallone still feels like a potential winner IF he's nominated. And will Oscar really deprive anyone from Spotlight of an acting nomination? That would be so weird for such an actor's friendly Best Picture frontrunner.
ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTRESS We'll have to list these two together because of the ongoing controversy surrounding Rooney Mara (one half of Carol's brilliant romantic coupling) and Alicia Vikander (who has two films splitting supporting honors Ex Machina and The Danish Girl, even though she's the leading lady of both). The discussions around these two have sucked so much oxygen out of the room for other women (in both the leading and supporting races) that I imagine they're both still getting nominated for Supporting DAMNIT since voters likely haven't thought through their other options . The solution: quality longshots should be working their asses off for the next two weeks to remind people of their existence (We're talking to you: Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Julie Walters, and Cynthia Nixon) since Academy voters don't get their ballots until the end of the year. Over in lead actress only four women feel secure (yes, that includes Charlotte Rampling. Come at me!) which means it's a true free for all for the fifth-slot. This week I chose Lily Tomlin as the lucky lady but it could be anyone from the second tier of the chart (or Mara or Vikander).
The other category charts will be updated this weekend -- SAG & Globe choices tell us virtually nothing about Oscar tastes when it comes to the other categories so we can think awhile longer on it.
Investigate the new charts and report back. What does your crystal ball say?