And So It Continues: 2014 Oscar Predictions, Part Deux

by Michael Hunley. 0 Comments

Film Review Gone Girl

Are we soon going to live in a world where Ben Affleck gets an Oscar nomination for ACTING? “Gone Girl” may be the film to do it. (Photo courtesy the Associated Press)

Here we are with the second round of Oscar predictions, which I’ll be updating every two weeks until the Academy Award nominations are announced in January (the previous list is here).

You may call it a waste of time, but I call it a hobby.

PICTURE*
1. “The Imitation Game”
2. “The Theory of Everything”
3. “Foxcatcher”
4. “Boyhood”
5. “Gone Girl”
6. “Interstellar”
7. “Unbroken”
8. “Birdman”
9. “Wild”
10. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

alternates:
11.  “Selma”
12. “Pride”
13. “Into the Woods”
14. “Inherent Vice”
15. “Mr. Turner”
16. “Still Alice”
17. “The Good Lie”
18. “Big Eyes”
19. “American Sniper”
20. “Trash”

The top 10 films are staying the same, but I’ve moved up the position of “Interstellar” a bit due to the film’s growing buzz and increasingly ubiquitous publicity (we’ll see how good it actually is, though, when it opens in a month).

The biggest news is how well “Gone Girl” has been doing — it’s a hit with audiences, and critical reception was strong, if not overwhelming. It’s still too early to tell whether it can hang in there and become a major player come Oscar time, but it keeps doing well at the box office, it should score (at least) a Best Picture nod or an acting nomination for lead Rosamund Pike.

Critics got there first glance of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” during the weekend, and the reviews have been ecstatic so far, as reviews generally are toward a PT Anderson film. But it still doesn’t look like it’ll be too … accessible toward Oscar voters; as in, it appears to be absolutely bonkers. I’ve read comparisons of the movie ranging from “The Big Sleep” to “The Big Lebowski,” from Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” to the “Naked Gun” movies — so, probably like Anderson’s last film, “The Master,” “Vice” may end up with just a couple of acting nominations.

TEN MORE BEST PICTURE CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: “Fury;” “The Gambler;” “Get On Up;” “The Homesman;” “Love is Strange;” “A Most Violent Year;” “Nightcrawler;” “St. Vincent;” “Suite Francais;” “Whiplash”

 *The number of nominees for Best Picture can range from five to 10, depending on the number of votes a film receives.

ACTOR
1. Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
2. Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
3. Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
4. Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
5. Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”

alternates:
6. Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
7. Bill Murray, “St. Vincent”
8. Channing Tatum, “Foxcatcher”
9. David Oyelowo, “Selma”
10. Ben Affleck, “Gone Girl”

No changes in the top five this week — it still seems to be a fight between Redmayne and Cumberbatch right now, with Carell and Keaton poised to be upsets. I’ve moved up Ben Affleck’s performance in “Gone Girl,” buoyed by its strong box office and the surprisingly good reviews he’s received for his performance (to quote my best friend Meg’s review of the film, “He was good, I was impressed. Granted, the bar for him isn’t very high, but still.”).

Also, word is that Tatum will be campaigned in the leading actor category, which may not work in his favor — the supporting race is a bit more wide open, and he’s bound to be overshadowed by his co-star’s prosthetic nose. And keep an eye out for Bradley Cooper in Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” — the trailer dropped recently, and it looks like it could, if done right, become a dark horse contender.

FIVE OTHER BEST ACTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Chadwick Boseman, “Get On Up;” Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper;” John Lithgow, “Love is Strange;” Jack O’Connell, “Unbroken;” Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice;”

ACTRESS
1. Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
2. Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
3. Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
4. Amy Adams, “Big Eyes”
5. Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”

alternates:
6. Hilary Swank, “The Homesman”
7. Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
8. Emily Blunt, “Into the Woods”
9. Shailene Woodley, “The Fault in Our Stars”
10. Jessica Chastain, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”

The big change this week is switching the placement of Julianne Moore and Reese Witherspoon — both are more than likely to get nominated, and while the buzz for Reese was strong coming out of the Toronto and Telluride film festivals last month, word has continued to build and build for Moore’s performance as a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s (plus, it’s becoming more likely that her Cannes-winning role in “Maps to the Stars” will get a late 2014, Oscar-qualifying release, which just furthers her momentum).

Jones, Adams and Pike are still standing strong, with Swank the most likely spoiler. I had Chastain’s performance in “Eleanor Rigby” at No. 7 last time, but the three-part drama (it’s been released already as “Them,” with very lukewarm box office and critical results; soon-to-be-released versions subtitled “Him” and “Her” may prove stronger) hasn’t really taken off like it seemed it might; instead, the buzzy ’80s crime drama “A Most Violent Year” looks like her best chance at a leading nominee.

And it looks like the category placement for the “Into the Woods” stars has been changed up a bit — Emily Blunt will now most likely campaign in leading actress while co-star Meryl Streep will be in supporting. Whether “Woods” turns out to be a box office hit or a dud is the biggest indicator of Blunt’s chances at a nomination.

FIVE OTHER BEST ACTRESS CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Jessica Chastain, “Miss Julie;” Rooney Mara, “Trash;”  Mia Wasikowska, “Tracks;” Michelle Williams, “Suite Francaise;” Reese Witherspoon, “The Good Lie”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
2. Edward Norton, “Birdman”
3. J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
4. Josh Brolin, “Inherent Vice”
5. Tom Wilkinson, “Selma”

alternates:
6. Albert Brooks, “A Most Violent Year”
7. Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
8. Miyavi, “Unbroken”
9. Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”
10. Robert Duvall, “The Judge”

Some notable changes here: I’ve taken “Foxcatcher’s” Channing Tatum out of the top 10 based on talk that he’ll be campaigning in lead (though he reportedly has more of a leading role in the film, he probably would have had a better chance at a nod in this category). In his place, I put former nominee Brolin, who got great reviews for what is said to be a scene-stealing role in the large “Vice” ensemble (Benicio del Toro is said to be a hoot in a small role, too).

It’s still too early to get a really strong feel for this category, but Ruffalo, Norton and Simmons all seem to have strong-enough buzz and acclaim to carry them through.

FIVE OTHER BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Benicio del Toro, “Inherent Vice;” Domhnall Gleeson, “Unbroken;” Logan Lerman, “Fury;” Tim Roth, “Selma;” Channing Tatum, “Foxcatcher”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
2. Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
3. Laura Dern, “Wild”
4. Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
5. Katherine Waterston, ” Inherent Vice”

alternates:
6. Anna Kendrick, “Into the Woods”
7. Carmen Ejogo, “Selma”
8. Emma Stone, “Birdman”
9. Viola Davis, “Get On Up”
10. Imelda Staunton, “Pride”

Well, this category is remaining increasingly unclear: With reports of “Into the Woods” pushing Emily Blunt into the leading race and Streep into supporting, I’ve substituted them out, because it’s Meryl, and she’s gonna GET her 19th (!!) nomination — they’re probably already getting her chair in the Dolby Theatre ready for her.

Arquette, Knightley and Dern all seem stable as of now, but newcomer Waterston has taken a bit of a tumble — her small role in “Vice” has gotten strong notices, but the polarizing nature of the film may greatly hurt her chances at a nominations. If the film was more “Oscar-friendly,” she’d probably have a stronger shot, but quirky sure-to-be-cult-classics haven’t had success in getting Oscar nods for their breakout stars in the past. Still, it’s too early to tell, and the competition is a little stiff: Kendrick will probably be pushed aside by co-star Streep; Ejogo is a virtual unknown who could do well if the still-unseen “Selma” takes off; and Stone has gotten good reviews for her small role in “Birdman,” though it may not be memorable enough in a film that features a fight between Michael Keaton and speedos-clad Edward Norton.

FIVE OTHER BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Marion Bailey, “Mr. Turner;” Jessica Chastain, “Interstellar;” Julianne Moore, “Maps to the Stars;” Marisa Tomei, “Love is Strange;” Lorraine Toussaint, “Selma”

DIRECTOR
1. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
2. David Fincher, “Gone Girl”
3. James Marsh, “The Theory of Everything”
4. Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
5. Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

alternates:
6. Christopher Nolan, “Interstellar”
7. Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
8. Jean-Marc Vallee, “Wild”
9. Angelina Jolie, “Unbroken”
10. Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”

This category is a bit of a work in progress — it all hinges on what films make it into the Best Picture race, really. So, I’m keeping it the same for now, with Inarritu at the top for his technically dazzling “Birdman,” with possible spoilers from Fincher and his current zeitgeist hit; Marsh and Tyldum and their dueling British biopics; and the critically worshipped Linklater. And then there’s the massively popular Christopher Nolan, or Cannes winner Miller, and even Jolie, Hollywood’s favorite saint. Expect many changes throughout the coming weeks.

FIVE OTHER BEST DIRECTOR CANDIDATES TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” Stephen Daldry, “Trash;” Ava DuVernay, “Selma;” Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper;” Mike Leigh, “Mr. Turner”

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