We are just under four weeks away from the Academy Awards ceremony. During this time, the Sundance Film Festival has come and gone, while Berlin is firmly underway. Some have even decided to look towards 2015 naming films like The Lego Movie and The Grand Budapest Hotel the first contenders of the year. However, we still have a job to do. The 2014 Oscars will take place on March 2 and there have been some interesting developments and things to consider.
The Producers Guild of America produced a tie for the first time in history, on a preferential ballot system no less. The Directors Guild of America came in and rewarded Alfonso Cuaron, which is big on a statistical analysis on what wins Best Picture. ACE, the Film Editor’s branch rewarded Captain Phillips earlier this weekend and we still have BAFTA to come in next weekend.
The media has also come in to shake things up. The Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow story is in headlines all over the top publications and some are beginning to believe something like this would cost frontrunner Cate Blanchett her second Academy Award for Blue Jasmine. I’m not sure if one will really have one effect on another but it’s something to consider. Does that mean Amy Adams will reap the benefits? She’s the only actress in the lineup who has never won and many are beginning to notice. The Weinstein Company may be also using this opportunity for Judi Dench to score and capitalize on the Best Picture nominated Philomena.
Bringing back the “Oscar Scenarios” – a popular look at a few different outcomes of the Academy Awards – there’s one thing I’ve recently find myself thinking about. Last September, the Emmy Awards produced some of the biggest shocks and surprises ever witnessed in an awards show. No one knew what was going on. Actors like Bobby Cannavale, Merritt Wever, Tony Hale, and Jeff Daniels beat out some pretty stiff competition, and in many cases, were picked as the least likely winners in their categories by some of the top pundits. I’m thinking about some of biggest upsets in Oscar years and what produced some of the most shocking. I’m sure many will think back to Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain but the rest of the night was pretty much on track with what most pundits had speculated. I’m constantly comparing this year to the 2000 when Gladiator triumphed over close competitors Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winner received twelve nominations but only mustered five at the end of the night. Ang Lee’s martial arts epic was nominated for ten, netting four, and Steven Soderbergh’s multi-layered drama nabbed five nominations, nearly sweeping with four wins (with the exception of Picture).
Russell Crowe had big competition going into the night. He lost the Golden Globe award to Tom Hanks (Cast Away), and was beat by Supporting Actor Benicio del Toro (Traffic), who was categorized Lead, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. He also lost the BAFTA award to the young Jamie Bell for Billy Elliot. Was he the heavy favorite going into the night? Some would say yes based on the nomination tally for Gladiator but Hanks, Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls), and surprise nominee Ed Harris (Pollock) had their admirers. Comparing this season to Matthew McConaughey being regarded as the favorite to win Best Actor, Crowe didn’t have the trajectory that the Dallas Buyers Club star has exhibited. McConaughey has won the Globe, SAG, and Critics Choice award. The only “chink” in his armor is a non-representation of Dallas Buyers Club at the BAFTA’s. This is the only opportunity for competitors Chiwetel Ejiofor or Leonardo DiCaprio to make their final plea as this year’s Oscar winner.
In Supporting Actress, 2000 yielded one of the biggest shocks in the last twenty years in any Oscar acting category. Marcia Gay Harden landed an Oscar nomination after missing all the key guild mentions. As a matter of fact, the actress had only received one win from the New York Film Critics Circle by nomination time. During the entire awards season, she only netted nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards, and was the second runner-up at the National Society of Film Critics, losing to Elaine May in Small Time Crooks. There are many that believe her spot belonged to either Kate Winslet (Quills) or Catherine Zeta-Jones (Traffic). The favorite going into the night was the beautiful Kate Hudson, who won the Golden Globe award for her performance in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. There was some worry that she would be splitting votes with her co-star Frances McDormand but many seemed confident. There was some worry after Oscar-winner Judi Dench won the Screen Actors Guild award for Chocolat. A win that could have been interpreted as the Harvey Power Play from Miramax, or a makeup win from the SAG community after losing for Mrs. Brown and Shakespeare in Love. There was even a threat for BAFTA winner Julie Walters to swoop in. I would have loved to have Oscar internet community be as loud as it is now and see if anyone would have predicted Harden anywhere above the four spot in the lineup.
Fast forward to our lineup for Supporting Actress where it has been “clearly” a race between the two beauties Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o. Anything outside of those two winning would be absolutely shocking. Does Sally Hawkins fit the mold of a Marcia Gay Harden-type winner? Hawkins has way more than Harden had going into the Oscar ceremony. Hawkins has Globe, BAFTA, Indie Spirit, and half a dozen more mentions throughout the season. She’ll also have pundits have an understanding that her win is likely a “pull-in” with Blanchett. Or….what if Hawkins won WITHOUT Blanchett? That would be something. There’s also a shocking June Squibb envelope opening. Fiesty-old-lady that curses may just be the perfect blend of drama and comedy that the Oscars are looking for.
There are lots more scenarios to talk about and we’ll be addressing them over the next few weeks. For now, the Oscar Predictions have been updated accordingly. Nowhere near final with lots of things left to consider.
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