Oscar Circuit: The Year of Firsts and Records Broken?

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jenniferjasonleigh_anomalisaThere are lot of moving pieces as studios gear up for the official kick off for Phase 1 of Oscar season.  On November 30, New York Film Critics Circle will unveil their winners before National Board of Review chimes in the next day.  News broke that AFI pushed back their announcement of their annual top ten because there are many December films to consider (ain’t it the truth).  Plus, SAG ballots are out in voters hands (ALREADY?!).  How many will actually wait to see the late year stuff?

The Golden Globes chimed in last week saying that Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl“) and Rooney Mara (“Carol“) are lead candidates.  While this sent the internet into a frenzy, asking questions like “are the studios going to change their minds?”  Speaking with awards representatives for both parties, both said there is currently no plans to switch either of their campaigns.  Supporting Actress nominees/winners have popped up in Lead Actress at the Globes before (Catherine Zeta-Jones in “Chicago” for one) without a hiccup.  This leaves room for someone like Jennifer Jason Leigh (“The Hateful Eight”) or perhaps Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs“) to gain some momentum when and if they’re nominated.

A narrative for the season hasn’t revealed itself yet, as it normally doesn’t until awards start getting handed out.  There’s a lot of wishful thinking from many pundits so I’m using the column this week to make my own.  Not so much for my personal nominations for a category, but little bits of history that can be made if voters open their mind to it.

  • Last year we flirted with the notion of two female directors being recognized in the Best Director category.  Angelina Jolie for “Unbroken” and Ava DuVernay for “Selma.”  Neither ended up on the table by the end but the new candidate for flirting is what if this is the first year that two ANIMATED films are recognized for Best Picture?  I’m referring to Pixar’s “Inside Out,” which many are already on board with, and the critically acclaimed and loved “Anomalisa” from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.  Paramount Pictures is mounting a serious campaign for Kaufman’s film, which presents three very deserving and unique opportunities (once again) for voice actors to be recognized in acting categories.  David Thewlis‘ heartbreaking work stands firmly next to many lead actors this year while Jennifer Jason Leigh’s honest and hopeful portrayal is another staple for her already impressive resume.  But it’s Tom Noonan who magnifies and becomes the anchor of the film, in (a) role(s) that speaks volumes.  Not to mention, “Anomalisa” would also become the first “R” rated Animated Feature nominee in the history of the Academy, and the second of ANY.
  • Shameless gloating, I was one of, if not, the first pundit to play with the notion of two Supporting Actor nominees coming from the same film.  That is of course, Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo‘s impressive works in Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight.”  They would be the first pair since “Bugsy” chimed in with Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel.  But there’s a third candidate brewing in the background and that is the work of Stanley Tucci, who’s brief but effective performance leaves a lasting impression.  They would be the first trio since “The Godfather” back in 1972.  Not to mention Liev Schreiber‘s name has been thrown around some.
  • gooddinosaur_imageBuzz is building for Pixar’s other entry “The Good Dinosaur,” with first reviews saying its a definite contender and possible spoiler.  What’s even more interesting is that the awards team behind the film are not only focusing on the film’s chances in Animated Feature but have decided on a second.  Normally, we would all think Original Screenplay as past nominees like “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Toy Story 3” have proved.  No, it’s for Best Cinematography.  Hard to really explain to any person what and how you look at cinematography in an animated feature, let alone an Academy member but I’m more than certain that at bare minimum, the Cinematography branch does.  Look back to films like “WALL-E,” probably Pixar’s most visually enthralling film to date, and tell me that the movement of the camera, in conjunction with imagery doesn’t speak volumes.  I’d be interested to see if “The Good Dinosaur” is the first film to break the barrier.
  • The Best Actress race has been made for the young, hot commodities of the moment as proven by multiple winners over the past fifteen years.  This year, there seems to be an unprecedented amount of veteran actresses in serious contention for a nomination.  Blythe Danner (“I’ll See You In My Dreams”) would make the 27th set of family Oscar nominees/winners, in partnership with her daughter, Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow.  Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”) would become the ninth oldest nominee in the category’s history, and third oldest winner (if she wins).  Just ahead of Rampling, Dame Maggie Smith (“The Lady in the Van”), at the time of nominations in January, would become the second oldest nominee in the category’s history, besting out Jessica Tandy for “Driving Miss Daisy.”  Finally Lily Tomlin (“Grandma”) would break a monumental record.  Not only would she the fifth oldest nominee ever, but she would break Helen Hayes’s record of longest gap between first and second Oscar nomination.  Hayes’ gap was 39 years, Tomlin’s would be 40.
  • Lastly, for “it” girl Jennifer Lawrence she has something substantial on the horizon.  If she is nominated for her performance in David O. Russell’s “Joy,” she would edge out Jennifer Jones as the youngest actress to ever garner four Oscar nominations at 25.  To give you some more perspective, if she picks up one more in the next five years, she will move past Kate Winslet, who has the record for fifth and sixth nominations respectively.

There have been updates to the Oscar Predictions as you can see on the sidebar, and by visiting each individual page for commentary.  You can chime with your own thoughts in the comments below.

CHECK OUT ALL THE OSCAR 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