Oscar Circuit: “There’s always room for more”

We are at the point in the season which Sasha Stone cleverly calls, the calm before the storm.  Films are opening in theaters, critics are getting to see what’s in serious contention, and voting groups are getting their screeners by the dozens soon enough.

As I updated the Oscar Predictions this time around, I found myself rattling my head fiercely looking for some clarity on certain categories.  As Michael Ward pointed out to me, is it really possible that terrific actors like Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, and Jessica Chastain can deliver their finest portrayals and not be recognized for it?  Damn right it’s possible and it’s a real shame, no pun intended.

In looking at their respective categories, I started with Best Actor which seems like a wide open race for a winner.  Where many Oscar pundits are still on the train that this is the year Leonardo DiCaprio will get his due for his performance in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, I’ve become very cold to the film as you’ll see.  I have much more faith in supporting players Armie Hammer and Judi Dench who look have some good scenes to chew.  At the moment, my hopes are immensely high for Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, which I’ll finally watch in the coming week and can deliver more of detailed perspective on.  I suspect this is a film that will be right up Oscar’s alley a la Slumdog Millionaire where all the critics groups rally together and deliver award after award.  That would explain a Jean Dujardin predicted win as well as Berenice Bejo.  Michael Fassbender delivered a box office smash performance in X-Men: First Class and with David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and his much talked about performance in Shame, I like to think he has a fighting shot.  Gosling is losing ground but is still in talks for his works in Drive and The Ides of March but he needs to get off to a big start.

I’ve abandoned Jessica Chastain being recognized for The Tree of Life and listened to my initial instincts (as well as some of my colleagues) for her being nominated for her work in Tate Taylor’s The Help.  I still believe it’s going to be one or the other and definitely not for Take Shelter, which seems to have come and gone.

There’s also wishful performances and works to make the cut and be recognized:  Bridesmaids would make a fabulous addition to the Original Screenplay race but I don’t think Oscar is quite there, even with Melissa McCarthy.  Just read my Comedy article.  I hope somewhere down the line someone can throw Demian Bichir a bone for his breathtaking turn in A Better Life.  I sincerely hope Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will be a piece of great cinema.  I’ve started to believe that Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin Tin can do some serious damage in the box office and when some technical love, even more.  I also cross my fingers for Max Von Sydow, Carey Mulligan, the Moneyball writing team, and Gary Oldman.

Check out all the Oscar categories and make sure to include your own predictions here and the FORUM.