Oscar Circuit – “Master” of Networking?

As the awards season is underway, multiple scenarios are playing out in my mind suggesting what can occur for the remainder of the year.  Films like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Zero Dark Thirty are still sight unseen with Django Unchained and Promised Land about to get their first set of eyes.  Last week Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables debuted a full-length trailer featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, and Amanda Seyfried all showing some singing skills.  Supporting Actress frontrunner Anne Hathaway was shown singing “I Dreamed a Dream” for the third time in the Universal Pictures marketing, which leads me to my point of the Oscar Circuit.

The trailer for Les Miserables didn’t do the film any favors.  The clunky production design, unnecessary wide-angles, and even the live singing on set didn’t seem as great as I’d thought it’d be.  In this latest round of Oscar Predictions, I’ve decided to back from Tom Hooper’s film a little bit.  Where momentum and prestige is on the side of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Ben Affleck’s Argo, big stage musicals transferred to film aren’t always safe bets.  What makes this notion of the film failing to impress even more compelling is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.  If Anne Hathaway were to fall out of the Supporting Actress race, who could win the award in her absence?  There are arguably three slots taken in Supporting Actress with Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), and Helen Hunt (The Sessions).  If it’s between those three for the win, Adams will be on her fourth nomination with the other two ladies having Oscars already.  Field herself would be 3 for 3 for Oscar nominations, something hard to envision happening.  Hunt has had a hard time post-Oscar win and isn’t as beloved as her competitors.  This could all work out for the young Amy Adams.

What puts the momentum on Adams is The Master could be the third film to win three acting Oscars on the same night.  The first time was in 1952 when Elia Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) won Oscars for Karl Malden, Vivien Leigh, and Kim Hunter, only leaving first-time nominee Marlon Brando on the sidelines.  The second and last film to have the honor was in 1977 when Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976) took home three acting awards for Faye Dunaway, Beatrice Straight, and posthumously for Peter Finch.  What makes these two films so remarkable are both were nominated but lost Best Picture, something that Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is bound to do.  They also both won a fourth Oscar on the same night, Art Direction for Kazan’s film and Original Screenplay for Lumet’s.

Could John Hawkes miss out on a nomination?

As the Lead Actor race heats up in a way I’ve never witnessed before, only Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis seem assured nominations at this point.  At one point John Hawkes seemed safe for a nomination but after watching what Bradley Cooper achieves in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook late last week, both Hawkes and Denzel Washington could have their spots in serious jeopardy.  Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock started its rounds of screening and the minimal enthusiasm for the film and the performance of Anthony Hopkins could be spelling out an omission from Lead Actor.  Richard Gere still delivers one of the year’s finest turns in Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage; a performance I feel could have opened voter’s eyes to a career that has gone unrecognized.  That suspicion may be going down the toilet along with the chances of Hugh Jackman for reasons stated earlier.

Christoph Waltz has entered the race in a big way after Gold Derby cited that he would be campaigned as a Lead Actor.  Some pundits think it was done to make way for Leonardo DiCaprio to capture his Oscar easier but after early word suggests, Samuel L. Jackson has been cited as the standout performer next to Waltz.  What this tells me is that Joaquin Phoenix, if he can remain respectful for the rest of the season, be rewarded his first Academy Award.

With a lack of Supporting Actor contenders, all previously rewarded before including Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), and Alan Arkin (Argo), Philip Seymour Hoffman is the only solid performer sitting at the top of the pack.  Unless John Goodman rallies up an unusual amount of good will for his two works in Argo and Flight and/or a veteran like William H. Macy or Hal Holbrook starts a following, Hoffman is likely to capture Oscar #2.

As pointed out, the two films to win three acting Oscars all captured a fourth award on the night, what would the fourth award be for The Master?  A weak and underdeveloped Original Screenplay category could have Paul Thomas Anderson confined to win Original Screenplay.  Now keep in mind this is all contingent upon Les Miserables bombing, DiCaprio being dismissed, and Phoenix playing nice for the rest of the season but its always useful to foresee Oscar possibilities.  The Weinsteins could capitalize on such a precedent.

Cotillard or Riva? Or Neither?

Lead Actress has taken a different shape as of late.  Still working on the concept that Jessica Chastain is going to something extraordinary in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, her and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) sit at the top.  Sony Pictures Classics has both foreign language performers Marion Cotillard (Rust & Bone) and Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) hoping for a spot or two.  It’s becoming exceedingly difficult to believe that both, or worst yet, none of them can find themselves nominated.  What helps Riva significantly is that Amour along with Michael Haneke are being praised in a more enthusiastic and beloved manner than Jacques Audiard’s Rust & BoneQuvenzhane Wallis has two huge detractions from propelling her forward, age and race, both that shouldn’t matter but have proven to have significance.  Beasts of the Southern Wild also needs a resurrection of buzz and a strong following at Critics Choice and Golden Globes.  Naomi Watts, who is being campaigned strongly by Summit Entertainment and delivers my favorite leading actress performance of the year so far, could find her way into the race if AMPAS and critics respond to The Impossible.  It’s their strongest pony to push besides Richard Gere.  There seems to be some excited lovers like myself and Joseph and some that loathe it like John.  That’s a good place to be sometimes because that’s how films like The Tree of Life and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close are surprise entries on nomination morning.  The British voting body could push through their own like Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren, no matter how their films are received.  Eight contenders for five spots is how this is shaping up.  I don’t even think Meryl Streep is on the table anymore which is a breath of fresh air.

Predictions have been updated accordingly.  Click through the categories and make sure to leave your thoughts down in the comments.  Some pictures and commentary haven’t been added but will be in the next day or so.

What are your predictions?