Oscar Circuit: Best Actress is the Best Its Been in Years

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aliciavikander_danishgirlTelluride is in the books where “Steve Jobs” by Danny Boyle and “Spotlight” by Tom McCarthy emerged as bonafide contenders for Best Picture and several other categories.  As we sit, there is an overwhelming feeling of a frontrunner that has landed just yet for the Oscars.  We look at films coming down the line such as “Bridge of Spies” from Steven Spielberg or “Joy” from David O. Russell or “The Revenant” from Alejandro G. Inarritu to carry such a cloud, and perhaps they do in terms of sheer anticipation.  But we have a real open race on our hands at the moment, which is fantastic to see.

Toronto is currently underway where “The Danish Girl” is gaining lovers along the way but some vocal detractors as well.  Eddie Redmayne is being touted as a possible winner for Best Actor, just one year after beating out Michael Keaton and company for “The Theory of Everything.”  His co-star Alicia Vikander is being sung as best in show, and with a year that she’s having, it’ll be hard to bet against in which ever category they decide to place her.

What’s overwhelmingly refreshing is the plethora of women in contention for Best Actress this year.  The aforementioned Vikander is in possible talks for a Lead push for “The Danish Girl,” but she’s already delivered this year in “Ex Machina” and “Testament of Youth,” both of which have their vocal admirers.  For every film that falls by the wayside, “Mad Max: Fury Road” moves up a few notches towards a Best Picture nomination, which helps the campaign for Charlize Theron who seriously deserves awards recognition.  Carey Mulligan (“Suffragette“), Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn“), Brie Larson (“Room“), and maybe Rooney Mara, pending a category switch (“Carol”), who all will have the young, hot vote from many but have the goods to all be considered possible winners. 

45-Years-xlargeSame can be said for our veterans Blythe Danner (“I’ll See You In My Dreams”), Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”) and Lily Tomlin (“Grandma“), who all seem to be fighting for the same spot.  And then there’s Emily Blunt (“Sicario“) who electrifies in Denis Villenueve’s thriller, but based on her track record, seems assured a Golden Globe nomination before promptly being stopped in her tracks.  Hopefully things work out different for her this year. 

I love the feel and look of the smaller films with big, beautiful performances heading them, that are just fighting to be seen.  Olivia Wilde is damn near perfect in “Meadowland” from cinematographer turned director Reed Morano, which premiered at Tribeca, and will be given a life in October.  If they pulled together for her, she’s someone I would love to see make the cut and possible could.  Same goes for Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet, who are equally compelling in “Bleeding Heart,” another Tribeca film.  Sarah Silverman emerged from Sundance as a big topic of conversation for “I Smile Back,” and with the film screening at TIFF, maybe something can be kicked into high gear.

With TIFF, comes the falling dominos of films that were once thought of as awards prospects.  Peter Sollett’s “Freeheld” manages to get some good word out about star Julianne Moore, and to a lesser extent Ellen Page, but little else.  “Legend” from Brian Helegand had people on board with two Tom Hardy‘s on-screen but the mixed reception doesn’t seem to offer anything else for its possibilities.  “The Program” from Stephen Frears found a home but no word yet if it’s a 2015 release or not.  The reception was fair to good but Ben Foster and Chris O’Dowd would look to have a hard time cracking either of their lineups.

One thing that did come away with its head held high was James Vanderbilt’s “Truth” with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford.  Not necessarily unanimously loved by critics and audiences, Blanchett is getting the Best Actress buzz once again, to partner up with her already well-received turn in “Carol,” it’ll be interesting to see how the Academy responds to her this year.  Redford on the hand will have a choice to make in campaigning Lead or Supporting, and based on some reviews, Supporting Actor is the right fit.  Based on Supporting Actor looks like at the moment, you can go pretty deep in contenders, with plenty more still to come.

All the Oscar Predictions have been updated as reflected on the sidebar but you can visit each page to get the commentary on the top contenders.  NYFF has already started their press screenings and soon enough, the Audience award at TIFF will be announced.  I honestly don’t know which film will take it.  You can discuss that, along with your thoughts on the race in the comments below.

CHECK OUT 2016 OSCARS CATEGORIES:

PICTURE | DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • RJ Niemczura

    I may be the only one, but I am really, really hoping for Sarah Silverman to break through here. I’m hoping she can be the Jen Aniston of this year, but actually pull all the way through to the Oscar nom.

    • I’d love to see Sarah Silverman work the circuit. Her film is incredibly small though.

  • Andrew Gillespie

    I know how early it is, but as of right now I really don’t see how Alicia Vikander doesn’t at the very least get nominated. I wish it were happening for Testament of Youth (now that’s a performance), but I love it.

    • The nomination seems assured in any category she campaigns. She’s fantastic.

  • Luke McGowan

    What happened to Kurt Russell? He’s been your pick to win from Day 1 and now he’s not even in your top 5. I assumed you’d give an indication here, but nothing. Can you elaborate?

    • There’s a lot of guys from “The Hateful Eight” that will be vying for a spot. Just can’t pin point who it will be. Until further notice, going with none.

      • Luke McGowan

        Ah yes, makes sense

      • Luke McGowan

        Is there a chance he’s campaigned lead?

  • What’s a performance so far this year you guys would love to get a nomination that stands pretty much no chance?

  • Greg

    I really want Emily Blunt To get a nomination for Sicario. She’s having rave reviews!

    • I’d love it too. I think’s she’s incredibly overdue for a nomination however, I don’t see it unless the film takes off big during the season. Hoping it will.

  • Christian Thompson

    I know she probably has little to no chances, but could Amy Schumer’s hilarious work in Trainwreck be in some sort of contention?