Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Projector: Oscar's Big Six Edition UPDATE

Friday UPDATE: Jonah Hill, you my friend are a winner. The now two-time Oscar nominee was amongst the biggest surprises doled out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Thursday, Hill's The Wolf of Wall Street cleaned up quite nicely with five total noms, all biggies: best picture, director, actor, supporting actor and adapted screenplay — Leo DiCaprio scoring his well-deserved due with his first nomination since 2006's Blood Diamond. Let's quickly break down the rest of the winners/losers.


Philomena – Based on recent history and their relentless pursuit of all things shiny, we knew one Weinstein project was likely to grab a best picture spot and this was the one over August: Osage County and Fruitvale Station.

Her – While Spike Jonze failed to snare a director nod, a best picture nom should sate Warner Bros.

Sally Hawkins – Taking the fifth and final supporting spot over Oprah, Hawkins should consider herself a bigger winner than the actress who takes home the Oscar.


The Butler – Casebook study in peaking too early, Lee Daniels' historical drama didn't score a single nomination. Youch.

Robert Redford – While I'm loathe to simply use "all is lost", the 77-year-old's likely last opportunity to win an Oscar sailed off into the sunset.

Tom Hanks – Went from possible double nominee to nada. Proof this year was stacked with pristine performances.

Saving Mr. Banks – In arguably the Academy's most egregious snub, Emma Thompson was passed over for best actress as the film itself received the same number of nominations as both Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger — one.

Inside Llewyn Davis – 2013's most overrated movie not titled Gravity landed just two noms, neither in glam categories.

Fruitvale Station – Does the Academy have a quota: only one black film per year? Zero nominations is criminal.


Predicting Oscar nominations can be a screwy proposition. Look no further than last year for proof of that fact. In doling out their directorial nominees, the Academy deemed it unnecessary to recognize the guy who ended up winning every single best director award in the lead-up to the Oscars: Ben Affleck. Sure, those 6,000+ members attempted to mitigate their egregious mistake by handing Argo their Best Picture prize, but the whole thing pointed to what those of us who've been covering this Super Bowl of acting have grown quite accustomed to: expect the unexpected come nomination day. Who will be snubbed this year? Place your bets on Leonardo DiCaprio, in what would be an equally-grievous omission as Mr. Garner. Here are my best bets for Oscar's Big Six: picture, director, actor, actress, and the two supporting trophies.

(All films/actors/actresses listed in order of strength of potential nomination)

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Wolf of Wall Street
Captain Phillips
Saving Mr. Banks
Inside Llewyn Davis
Dallas Buyers Club
Fruitvale Station

On deck
Blue Jasmine
The Butler
Before Midnight
August: Osage County

FC Analysis: Betting on the max 10 nominees; strong year with 12 Years a Slave the clear front-runner. Will Her be frozen out? Can Blue Jasmine or Before Midnight sneak in? What about Short Term 12? Is Weinstein's best-picture streak – five years running – toast? Harvey's best shot is Fruitvale Station, but Philomena or The Butler – even August: Osage County – could surprise.

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron Gravity
Steve McQueen 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell American Hustle
Martin Scorsese The Wolf of Wall Street
Paul Greengrass Captain Phillips

On deck
Alexander Payne Nebraska
J.C. Chandor All Is Lost
Spike Jonze Her
Joel & Ethan Coen Inside Llewyn Davis
Woody Allen Blue Jasmine

FC Analysis: Love the DGA's final five and expect the same nominees here. That said, given the absurdities of last year, the Academy could serve up some wild cards; J.C. Chandor would be a welcome – much deserving – addition.

Best Actor

Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford All Is Lost
Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years a Slave
Bruce Dern Nebraska
Tom Hanks Captain Phillips

On deck
Leonardo DiCaprio The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac Inside Llewyn Davis
Forest Whitaker The Butler
Christian Bale American Hustle
Joaquin Phoenix Her

FC Analysis: It's the old guard (Robert Redford) versus the new guard (Matthew McConaughey) for the crown. If not now for Leo, when? Will CBS Films' hellacious promotional push pay off for Oscar Isaac?

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock Gravity
Emma Thompson Saving Mr. Banks
Meryl Streep August: Osage County
Judi Dench Philomena

On deck
Amy Adams American Hustle
Brie Larson Short Term 12
Julie Delpy Before Midnight
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Enough Said
Greta Gerwig Frances Ha

FC Analysis: Cate Blanchett's to lose; the biggest lock of the Oscars. Could Brie Larson sneak in after her Gotham Awards win? How on earth is Sandra Bullock flighty performance considered a strong contender?

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Fassbender 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto Dallas Buyers Club
Tom Hanks Saving Mr. Banks
Bradley Cooper American Hustle
Barkhad Abdi Captain Phillips

On deck
James Gandolfini Enough Said
Daniel Brühl Rush
James Franco Spring Breakers
Chris Cooper August: Osage County
Jake Gyllenhaal Prisoners

FC Analysis: It's Fassbender vs. Leto here. Will the Academy's preponderance of old fogies bother recognizing James Franco's utterly-unforgettable Alien? Highly Doubtful.

Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong'o 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle
Julia Roberts August: Osage County
June Squibb Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey The Butler

On deck
Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine

FC Analysis: Smallest field of legit contenders — six. Lone question: Will it be Oprah or Sally Hawkins for the fifth and final slot?