We are officially in the final stretch. Can’t believe we made it to this point already. All the major contenders will have been seen, in some fashion by critics, by Monday, November 30. That is insane. Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant” screened for the first time on Monday night for critics, and we are heavily embargoed until December 4. Not speaking anything about the film, it’s a sure-fire contender for multiple awards, with two in particular being declared “Game Over!” On Monday, November 30, a double feature of David O. Russell’s “Joy” and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” is in store for the New York crowd. That is going to be one to seriously digest.
In the case of the former, “Joy” will be embargoed until December 14 with “The Hateful Eight” being held until December 21. As bystanders, we will be analyzing all the awards to judge if it as a whole is liked or not. Obviously “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is still an unknown entity, with news breaking recently that it will not screen for awards consideration. The newest rumor is that a December 16th screening will be set up for critics but likely nothing else.
Looking at the race, with these films mixed in, there is no one and done in any category at the moment. Best Actor will be a race of the movie stars as Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”), Johnny Depp (“Black Mass“), and Will Smith (“Concussion“) all play the “I’m overdue card.” It’s a matter of who has the better hand to play. And then there’s still Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs“) who should be a survivor, if and when, a massacre for “Steve Jobs” comes to fruition. Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl“) Ian McKellen (“Mr. Holmes“), Michael Caine (“Youth”), and Matt Damon (“The Martian“) are still very much in the hunt for nods while a mounting campaign for Geza Rohrig for “Son of Saul” is making the rounds (and deservingly so).
In Best Actress, Brie Larson kicked off Tuesday right with her first precursor nomination of the season for Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room.” She continues to work the circuit and is going to be hard to beat down the line but Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn“) and Cate Blanchett (“Carol“) are fighting hard at the moment. Jennifer Lawrence is the one waiting in the wings and I believe despite any mixed reviews, pending its an all out hatefest for “Joy,” the newly minted Entertainment Weekly Entertainer of the Year should factor in nicely. That fifth spot will be a battle of the veterans as Blythe Danner (“I’ll See You In My Dreams”), Lily Tomlin (“Grandma“), Maggie Smith (“The Lady in the Van”), and Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”) all try to get a leg up on the competition. Dark horse Emily Blunt (“Sicario“) has a strong campaign pushing for her and I wouldn’t be surprised if she caught fire in the latter half of the season.
Supporting Actor continues to be the race with no locks and tons of contenders. Everyone feels confident that at least one actor from “Spotlight” will make the cut, with many believing that both Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo will sit side-by-side. Tom Hardy made strong case for his first Oscar nomination (and win), with a career that has included “Bronson,” it’s about damn time. Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies“) is assumed to have the support of any theatre-goer going into the season, and is one of the only REALLY supporting players in the conversation this year. Benicio Del Toro (“Sicario”) has continued to stay afloat, feeling more like a sure thing but some of the new and surprising buzz for Sylvester Stallone (“Creed“) threatens to spoil that party. Unsure how much that buzz can carry him, but I’m sure Warner Bros. will have a field day trying to make it happen. The same studio also has Joel Edgerton in “Black Mass,” who I believe to be the strongest aspect of the film. Then there’s the case for a dozen more: Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation“), Harvey Keitel (“Youth”), Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy“), Jason Mitchell (“Straight Outta Compton“), Jacob Tremblay (“Room”), Walton Goggins and Kurt Russell (“The Hateful Eight”), Michael Shannon (“99 Homes“), and Emory Cohen (“Brooklyn”).
And finally Supporting Actress has some presumably sure-fire names like Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”), Rooney Mara (“Carol”), and Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”). In the case of Mara, she popped up at the Independent Spirit Awards today as a nominee but in Lead, and will be run there also for the Golden Globes. I wonder if the BFCA will listen to the campaign as well as BAFTA. So are we to assume that only SAG and Oscar will play by Harvey’s rules, or will they go their own way? Jennifer Jason Leigh has been rumored to be a standout in “The Hateful Eight” for weeks. Hoping it finally happens for her, which is helped by a bravura performance in “Anomalisa.” That last spot (or “assumed” spot) looks to be made for Elizabeth Banks (“Love & Mercy”), Jane Fonda (“Youth”), Joan Allen (“Room”), or Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight”). This race could lock itself up early on but with all the category fraud going on this year, I wonder if the Academy will feel inclined to follow suit. They likely will.
Oscar Predictions will come on Wednesday. Get ready for some shifts.
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