Someone’s going to be left out in the cold. Several very talented and deserving people, in fact. There’s no avoiding it. There are simply too many talented actors vying for five Best Actor slots this year, so on the morning of the Oscar nominations, there could be as many as 10 worthy performers looking at the five nominees and wondering why they aren’t in that exclusive group. I discuss the crowded Best Actor race in the current Awards Blend podcast.
Shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, a number of professional groups started unveiling their year-end picks, giving slight momentum to hopeful projects. The National Board of Review honored J.C. Chandor’s moody American-dream drama A Most Violent Year with its top prize, while the New York Film Critics Circle chose Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the year’s best film. Violent has been enjoying a nice push as it approaches theaters in the coming weeks. Boyhood, however, has been an Oscar favorite for weeks (almost months) now, and should continue to steamroll through several of the awards bellwethers as the season continues.
As of Friday, December 5, here’s where I think our major contenders stand:
It’s possible that this category could break major ground if two female directors (in Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay) are able to land nominations for their pictures Unbroken and Selma. The more I think about it, the more I think Clint Eastwood, who hasn’t been nominated in the Best Director category since 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima, returns to the category by returning to the battlefield for American Sniper. His NBR win helps, plus the Academy loves him. We’ll see how Sniper plays in the coming weeks.
Easily the toughest category in this year’s Oscar race. There will be at least five worthy Best Actor candidates who’ll be on the outside looking in on the morning of the Oscar announcements, as we discussed in this week’s podcast (on Page One). When picking Frontrunners, I have four who I believe are mortal locks. That means there’s one possible slot open for nearly 20 possible contenders. Who’ll survive the lengthy Opening Stage of the awards campaign?
If the Best Actor is stacked, the Best Actress race is rail thin. A few candidates are emerging late, particularly Julianne Moore in the buzzworthy Still Alice. But I’m hoping Rob Marshall’s Into The Woods delivers a few noteworthy female performances, because right now, it’s looking like a two-horse race between Moore and Reese Witherspoon.
As predicted, J.K. Simmons is taking the trophies in the early, regional awards races. Hopefully his wins – as well as positive word-of-mouth – can continue to boost Whiplash at the indie box office on fire. Right now, I’m waiting for someone to step up and challenge Simmons for the lead in this category. It hasn’t happened yet.
Much like the Best Picture race, I have one lock (in my mind) for the Supporting Actress race, and it’s tied to Boyhood. Patricia Arquette is the emotional anchor of Richard Linklater’s sprawling, 12-year journey, and her sentimental work should be enough to earn the actress her first Oscar nomination. Who will join her?
Movie junkie. Infatuated with comic-book films. ReelBlend cohost. Resident dad. Extroverted introvert. Wants to see the Snyder Cut. Managing Director at CinemaBlend.
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