It all became clear on Wednesday (well…not really). A few weeks ago, in a previous Oscar Circuit, I talked about the “narrative” of an awards season and how this one hadn’t revealed itself. It seemed to click finally, after it sat right in front of our faces for weeks…this is the year of category “confusion.” Not touching the notion of “category fraud,” people’s interpretation of the lead and supporting debate as been catapulted to the forefront as we’ve seen contenders like Rooney Mara (“Carol”) get nominated in Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards, and today, Michael Keaton named Best Actor for his work in “Spotlight” despite a Supporting Actor campaign from Open Road.
Let’s digest the past few days:
- Todd Haynes’ “Carol” had a resurgence that it truly needed. After flying under the radar during the festival circuit, the period drama from the Weinstein Company came on top with the New York Film Critics Circle. The film won four prizes including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Cinematography. This comes one day after the NBR passed it over completely for their Top 10 and acting categories though the film did have an impeccable showing at the Independent Spirit Awards.
- After embargoed screenings of David O. Russell’s “Joy” have occurred, the Best Actress has revealed itself, though not surprisingly, as a race between Brie Larson of “Room” and Saoirse Ronan of “Brooklyn.” Honestly, that’s a fine, cutthroat race to watch unfold.
- With all the category confusion going on about Rooney Mara (“Carol”), Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”), and now evidently Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”), the actual supporting players are getting the chance to bubble to the surface. Both Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Kristen Stewart (“Clouds of Sils Maria”) scored big today winning their respective supporting prizes. Rylance has been seen as a threat for months since “Spies” first premiered at the New York Film Festival. Call him a sleeper contender for the win. In the case of Stewart, she made history earlier in the year winning the Cesar Award but looked all but out with little buzz for her film. She leaped passed some heavy hitters today to win her award and might be a serious spoiler for a spot in a category that is shifting by the moment.
- Sylvester Stallone’s buzz for “Creed” is palpable from those who admire it. NBR validated all their claims with his Supporting Actor win on Tuesday. Warner Bros., who have three contenders in the form of “Mad Max,” “Creed,” and “Black Mass,” may have some serious decisions to make. Two out of those three have strong Supporting Actor possibilities with Stallone and Joel Edgerton from “Mass.” Supporting Actor has always been a breeding ground for veteran actors to get their due. Minus the “due” part, Stallone may be able to ride a wave of sentiment. Let’s see if it lasts.
- Jennifer Jason Leigh has staked a claim for herself in Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s “Anomalisa,” making history as the first voice performance to be nominated at the Independent Spirit Awards. Her win for “The Hateful Eight” at NBR put in motion a campaign that will likely have her at the forefront, especially with category confusion about, though she’s not immune to it either. She’s being campaigned in Lead Actress for “Anomalisa” and popped up in Supporting.
- Pete Docter’s “Inside Out” is the only film to win both days for their respective categories. The Animated Feature frontrunner has started the precursor season off strong and will remain near or on the top until the Oscars are announced and handed out. Is there a possibility for anything to overtake it? The Annie Awards were kind but they also loved “Anomalisa” and all of the GKIDS films.
- Laszlo Nemes’ “Son of Saul” won Foreign Language Film at NBR but with NYFCC, they opted for a First Film prize, to make way for Mathuania’s submission from 2014 “Timbuktu” to win the prize there. Sony Pictures Classics is gunning hard for the film, and is still a strong threat in categories outside of Foreign Language. Picture, Director, Actor, Cinematography, and the Sound categories are not out of the realm of possibility. I’d keep a close eye on it.
- Let’s talk about the ever evolving Best Actor category. With “The Revenant” under embargo until Friday, no official words for the film have been expressed but the word is positive on the streets. Leonardo DiCaprio came up empty handed, as did the film at NBR. Matt Damon surprised with a win instead, and an overall lovefest for “The Martian.” With the wrench that is Michael Keaton winning in Best Actor at NYFCC, does that convince Open Road for a category switch? The epitome of an ensemble piece, “Spotlight” has no real lead but an argument can be made for both Keaton and co-star Mark Ruffalo as co-leads, though I don’t buy it. What if they want to right the wrong of Keaton leaving empty handed last year?
Oscar Predictions will be updated over the next 24-48 hours. Keep checking back for updates. For now, you can see the latest in Best Picture and the acting categories. Look at the sidebar for the collective predictions.
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