Okay, with Oscar nominations coming in just two weeks, it's time to do some roundups of potential contenders for the bigger categories this year. In fact, ballots are in Academy voter's hands right now, and the deadline for turning them in is next Thursday, so we're going to start examining who's in, who's out and who seems to be coming up fast in this crucial voting period, so stay with me as we start with the supporting acting races.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Given the essential precursor nominations- the Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice awards, there are actually four women who've gotten every single one. That's Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game, Emma Stone for Birdman and Meryl Streep for Into the Woods. Normally, hitting those three groups means you're close to a shoo-in for a nomination, but there have been surprises in the past. These supporting nominations can often ride the coattails of the film's strength overall, and given that Boyhood, Birdman and Imitation Game are all thought to be very strong with the Academy, Streep's nomination here looks like the weakest.
On the other hand, she's Meryl Streep and to be quite honest with you, in my opinion that's the only reason she's getting any attention at all for thi films. Which is why I don't think she's impervious to a snub despite the precursor support. The movie has no critics awards love, not even for her alone, and Disney has often been a very weak campaigner for their films in the past (last year she had Harvey Weinstein, the Oscar whisperer behind her nod for August: Osage County). If Streep doesn't land a Bafta nomination next week (the last precursor and second in importance to SAG for acting nominations) I'd say there's every chance she could be overlooked this time for someone else.
In that case, who takes her place? Well, there are several options here. Jessica Chastain got a Globe and BFCA nom for A Most Violent Year, but the film is not considered a heavy Oscar contender and there's a question of how many voters will see it. Tilda Swinton is a real wild card choice for Snowpiercer, having gotten some obscure critical love for it, but again, faces the challenge of having her film seen (pure passion votes could help her though). Laura Dern, despite having not gotten any precursor support, still seems like a very viable option to me thanks to her friends in the Academy and the benefit of being in a film (Wild) that will get seen, because of Reese Witherspoon's impending lead nomination. Rene Russo could also surprise, given the fact that Nightcrawler is clearly very popular and probably getting more seen than some of these other films. And finally, there's Carmen Ejogo, a British actress who plays Coretta Scott King in Selma, a film thought to be a major contender- her only drawback is that she's completely unknown and with a smallish role.
So here's who I'm thinking gets in:
- Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
- Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
- Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
- Emma Stone, Birdman
- Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
In spite of my doubts on Streep, I'm still too chicken not to predict her right now. If she does miss the Bafta nod, I'd probably replace her with Dern in the final lineup. And for the win, I do think Arquette has it locked up already, I can't see anyone else winning.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This category was seen as being very weak this year, but still seems to have four for sure nominations. That's Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo and J.K. Simmons. They've all hit the necessary precursors, and there's so little consensus on who else delivered an outstanding supporting male performance this year that I can't imagine any of them not making the cut.
But there does need to be five, and the nod is likely to come from these contenders. Tom Wilkinson has a flashy role as LBJ in Selma, and he's a respected veteran actor, there's a chance he'd get in. And then there's Robert Duvall for The Judge, which was a dreadfully reviewed movie and not a hit at the box office either, but as the respected longtime vet that he is, he did manage a Globe and SAG nod for the part, so frankly I think he could easily make the cut here based on his name alone. Outside shots are Josh Brolin for Inherent Vice (not a well-received film but occasionally scene-stealing actors from PTA movies can surprise), and Christoph Waltz in Big Eyes (also not a popular or warmly received movie, but Waltz is a two-time winner and Academy favorite with a big, flashy role and Weinstein behind the film).
Who I predict:
- Robert Duvall, The Judge
- Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
- Edward Norton, Birdman
- Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
- J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Yes, I'm playing it safe, although Wilkinson could easily sneak in, or Waltz. Like in Supporting Actress, Simmons has this thing locked up for Whiplash, the only chance at a possible upset is Norton in Birdman. Check back in tomorrow for the lead acting contenders.