E: So there weren’t a lot of surprises there. Let’s take a look at the nominees, and see how they match up with Wednesday’s SAG nods, and what all this means for Oscar. (Also, huge congratulations to The Good Wife, Downton Abbey, Tatiana Maslany, Julianna Margulies, Hayden Panetierre and especially Josh Charles for their nominations! I say especially Josh because the television supporting categories take roles from TV movies, mini-series, dramas and comedies. After this brilliant start to season five it’s well deserved, and kudos to the Hollywood Foreign Press for acknowledging it!)
Best Picture: Drama
12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena, Rush
I admit it – Rush was not on my radar at all. Happily for anyone like me who hasn’t seen it, it’ll come out on video before the Oscars (it has a January 28th dvd release date, to be specific) though unfortunately not before the Golden Globes. Failing to make the cut is a blow for Saving Mr. Banks, though, I’m not going to lie. It’s not a death blow, but it’s not good. The news is even worse for Fruitvale Station and Dallas Buyers Club. We have 12 Years A Slave, Captain Phillips and Gravity all essentially confirmed; all three received nominations for their direction as well, a most heartening sign. I would still consider Philomena and Rush to be longer shots, because the comedy category overflows with Oscar movies.
Best Picture: Musical or Comedy
American Hustle, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street
David O. Russell and Alexander Payne rounded out the director category, another sign confirming American Hustle (damn!) and Nebraska as favorites for Oscar nominations. Other than the fact there’s nothing on the list that your average person might think of as a comedy, there’s one big surprise here: no August: Osage County. I’m afraid it’s just another sign that the long anticipated adaptation hasn’t panned out as expected.
If you consider that 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips and Gravity are locks for Oscar, and Nebraska is a strong bet for the fifth slot, you’re still left with possible nominations 6-10. Inside Llewyn Davis seems the strongest contender for the sixth slot, but I wouldn’t remotely count out Her or The Wolf of Wall Street – though it is striking that Wolf failed to receive a direction nomination. No attention for an icon like Martin Scorsese? Not a good omen, especially since the Hollywood Foreign Press respects icons; the director’s branch of the Academy, not so much. There’s not a consensus winner at this point, either for the individual Globes or Oscar. Some years there’s a clear standout, like Schindler’s List, American Beauty or Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: other years, you have to wait for a late stage champion (Argo, Million Dollar Baby) to arise from a sea of worth contenders. Some years you have a critical favorite (L.A. Confidential, Leaving Las Vegas, The Social Network) that gets pushed aside by a more popular film (Titanic, Braveheart, The King’s Speech). This year, we’re still at sea.
For those keeping count, two of these ten movies have lead female characters (Gravity and Philomena) and two seem to have strong female co-leads (American Hustle and Her). Sadly, the Oscars tend to be even worse with rewarding female led films.
Best Actor: Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Idris Elba, Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom; Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club: Robert Redford, All is Lost
This is pretty close to what your Oscar nominations will look like, with the pleasantly surprising addition of Idris Elba. Early in the season, he had advanced buzz, but the movie’s tepid critical reception tempered the enthusiasm for his performance. It’s certainly a fitting tribute in the wake of Mr. Mandela’s sad passing, and Elba rocks. So, great! Redford recovers from his surprise omission from the SAG shortlist. Lead actor is always the most brutal category (since so many movies are headlined by men) and this year the field may be more rich even than usual. Still, Ejiofor, Hanks and McConaughey all scored SAG noms as well and must be considered favorites.
Best Actor: Musical/Comedy
Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Oscar Isaacs, Inside Llewyn Davis; Joachim Phoenix, Her
This is a great, and very serious, slate of performers. I have no doubt all five of them are in contention for an Oscar nomination. Bruce Dern would be the favorite of them – and probably the favorite to win here? – but I wouldn’t count anyone out.
Best Actress: Drama
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks; Kate Winslet, Labor Day
What an amazing slate! Only Winslet is unlikely to score an Oscar nomination. The women’s races are always so concentrated, because Hollywood doesn’t make a lot of movies about women (let alone a lot of good ones). For the win – both here and at the Academy Awards – the race is a fierce one between former winners Blanchett and Bullock. The critics might lean to Blanchett’s corner, but we’ll have to see where everyone else lands. Truly this might be the hottest category of the night.
Best Actress: Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams, American Hustle: Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said; Meryl Streep, August; Osage County
Bah, I knew I was making a mistake leaving Gerwig off the shortlist. It’s just that Frances Ha had such a small run. Ah well. Good for her! I’m super happy for Delpy, a fantastic actress nominated for the first time, and for Louis-Dreyfus, who manages a comedy twofer with her sitcom work in Veep. Most likely, Adams and Streep will battle it out for Kate Winslet’s slot in the top five; Streep got the SAG nod, so the odds might be in her favor, but Adams’ movie only gathers more buzz while Streep’s clearly flags.
Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Daniel Bruhl, Rush; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
This list is really solidifying. Like I said, I was blindsided by Rush, but with both SAG and Golden Globe nods, Daniel Bruhl has to be considered a strong contender. I’m not willing to consider him a lock yet – look at Globe and SAG nominee Mila Kunis in Black Swan. And he’s got some fearsome competition in Saving Mr. Banks‘ Tom Hanks. SAG honored James Gandolfini over Cooper or Hanks, but while that’s possible I think we’d need to see more evidence of a sentimental groundswell to put a role from a category the Oscars don’t really respond to (romantic comedies) over the top. It worked for Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (a comic book movie, another reviled genre) but we saw Heath everywhere, and that’s not the case here. Especially not since the most buzzed over performances definitely belong to Leto and Fassbender.
Best Supporting Actress:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita N’yongo, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska
The big surprise here is the inclusion of Hawkins over The Butler‘s Oprah Winfrey. Sure, Woody Allen used to be the awards godfather for supporting actresses, but not as much of late. Will Oscar repeat the slight? Winfrey received a SAG nomination, and surely she’s got an unparalleled platform to campaign if she wants to. Hawkins isn’t a total stranger to American audiences or awards buzz (she actually won a Golden Globe a few years ago for best actress in a Musical/Comedy in Happy-Go-Lucky) but she’s not well known, either. I’m surprised to see the balance tip towards the unknowns rather than the megastars.
I couldn’t be more curious to see who comes out on top in this category. I want to say Lawrence and N’yongo have the most buzz right now, but surely it’s too soon for the ubiquitous Lawrence to win again? Though you can never really count against the desire to see daffy Jen collect another award, newbie Lupita might have the edge.
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; David O. Russell, American Hustle
Last year was an excellent example of the obvious candidates not making it onto Oscar’s shortlist. The Globes, on the other hand, tend to be much more straightforward; the movies they like get the most nods and definitely the directing ones. I’m sure that’s because all the awards are chosen by the same people (film critics from foreign countries) rather than specialists as with the Oscars. While last year’s experience insists we avoid complacency, all five of these men have a strong shot at an Oscar nod. Again, it’s too early to make an educated guess of a winner. Feel free to speculate in the comments, though! I’d love to hear what you think!