It's finally time for the acting awards, mainly the ones other than Picture that average viewers tune in to see. While the four categories look fairly set this year, with a definite frontrunner in all (well, maybe three out of four), that doesn't mean there's no chance for an upset, especially in supporting, as you'll see below- I'll also tell you what my own personal preference is for these:
- Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
- Christian Bale, American Hustle
- Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
- Bruce Dern, Nebraska
I think Matthew McConaughey has the edge here. He won the Golden Globe, the Critics Choice and the SAG. I thought for a while that Leo might upset (he's massively popular and has so many fans who think he's overdue), since he also won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards, but if he was gaining momentum he probably should have won the BAFTA two weeks ago. They went with Ejiofor, who's from England, so maybe that's not a surprise. Both of those two have a slight chance to upset, but then so does Bruce Dern for Nebraska. Never, ever count out the old-time veteran who doesn't have an Oscar. The only person with no chance to win is Christian Bale, I think.
Winner: Matthew McConaughey
Alternate: Leonardo DiCaprio
Dark Horse: Bruce Dern
My Choice: Leo DiCaprio- I'd love to see him win and I really did think it was the best and most daring performance of his career. As for McConaughey, frankly, he's so much more impressive and different from his usual self on HBO's True Detective that I think seeing him on that has made me less enthusiastic about him winning for Dallas Buyers Club- where he went through a dramatic physical transformation but didn't veer that much from his regular persona. Of course, most people see True Detective as the best possible asset for him during the Oscar campaign, so I'm in the minority on that one, because this award will also obviously be a career resurgence prize of sorts.
- Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
- Sandra Bullock, Gravity
- Amy Adams, American Hustle
- Judi Dench, Philomena
- Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Cate Blanchett should be pretty safe. There were some who wondered if the recent Woody Allen controversy might cut into her chances to win, but I don't think it's a close enough race for that to make a difference. Amy Adams is probably in second place with the best chance to upset if anyone could, but Blanchett has won every single precursor- so she should be pretty far out in front.
Winner: Cate Blanchett
Alternate: Amy Adams
Dark Horse: Judi Dench (unlikely, but if the Philomena love is that strong, it could happen)
My Choice: Sandra Bullock- she carried the whole movie practically by herself. But Cate Blanchett is great in her film, so it's a fine choice, I just think Bullock's turn in Gravity has been underrated.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
- Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
- Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
- Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
- Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Jared Leto is the de facto frontrunner here. He's won most of the precursors except for BAFTA (where Dallas Buyers Club didn't get nominated for anything) and even though he doesn't seem to be a particularly passionate choice, he's got something of a default status going on due to the lack of appealing options. Funnily enough, after seeing Barkhad Abdi win the BAFTA, I wonder if Sony had launched a bigger campaign for Captain Phillips, whether he could have mounted a real challenge against Leto. Supporting acting categories are often where the upsets occur, and they have less of a problem awarding newcomers and first time actors there. I also wonder whether Dallas Buyers Club is too small of a movie to win two acting Oscars.
Winner: Jared Leto
Alternate: Barkhad Abdi
Dark Horse: not sure there is one- I think any other person in this category would be a total shock.
My Choice: Michael Fassbender- he's pure evil in 12 Years, but manages to give his psychotic character some complexities in spite of it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
- Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
- Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
- Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
- June Squibb, Nebraska
Ok, so this is the one with no single frontrunner- there's two. Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence are virtually neck and neck heading into this thing. I really thought Lupita was running away with it, but seeing Lawrence pull off that BAFTA win was kind of a big deal. From the beginning I've maintained that the Academy was not going to reward a 23-year-old relative newcomer with back to back Oscars, but for the last decade no actress winner has ever not gone on to win the Oscar after winning the Golden Globe and BAFTA award. That's a powerful combination, and if I predict Lupita, I'd be going against history. On top of which, American Hustle has 4 acting nominations, and very few films with that many nods have not won any of them. Plus it may be foolish to think that they just wouldn't give Lawrence a second Oscar- after all, it's not unprecedented and if she hadn't won last year she'd be a virtual lock to win this year. But part of me still thinks it's too much too soon, and they've got to reward 12 Years a Slave in some other major category besides Screenplay if it's going to win Best Picture. Still, the love for Hustle is very strong and the spotlight on Jennifer Lawrence as a megastar is at its brightest right now...I remain conflicted, but knowing the Academy, they'll go with their It Girl (and she'd become just the sixth person to ever win back to back Oscars, joining Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Luise Rainer, Jason Robards and Tom Hanks- that's a very small club).
Winner: Jennifer Lawrence
Alternate: Lupita Nyong'o
Dark Horse: June Squibb (this is possible- if Lupita and Jennifer are that close in the voting, they might split and someone else could slide in to take it in a complete surprise- but it's happened before).
My Choice: June Squibb. The 80-year-old was a pillar of strength in Nebraska and a hilarious scene stealer. My favorite of the five nominees.