Wednesday, January 8, 2014

OSCARS 86 PREDICTIONS: The Supporting Players

If you want surprises on Oscar night, this is where you will find them.  Over the past several years, decades in fact, Oscar has stunned us with unlikely winners.  Remember Marcia Gay Harden winning for Pollack, beating out sure thing Kate Hudson for her work in Almost Famous?  Or how about Ralph Fiennes losing for Schindler's List to Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive?  That isn't to say those two winners weren't deserving, they just beat out what seemed to be a lock.  Those are only a few examples of supporting upsets, but what of the nominees?  With so many large casts in so many quality films, these categories are sure to be overloaded.


It's difficult to decide who deserves the inevitable American Hustle nomination, Amy Adams or Jennifer Lawrence.  One argument against Adams' performance, which shows that she is the most versatile actress working today, is that it may be a lead role.  Also, Lawrence gives the flashier performance, and that dance in her living room should be enough to nab her a nomination. Another name at the top of the quintet will be an unknown, Lupita Nyong'o, whose debut turn in 12 Years a Slave is an intensely unforgettable performance.  And it certainly seems that June Squibb's wiry performance as the bad-mouthing matriarch of the Grant family in Nebraska will earn her a nomination as well. 

Aside from these top three, the field thins out and opens up quite a bit.  Julia Roberts is gaining some late steam for her role in August: Osage County, and the Academy would definitely love to have her back in the pool of nominees.  Some have said Oprah's role in Lee Daniels' The Butler is deserving, Sally Hawkins is a possibility for Blue Jasmine, but I want to lean once again towards Fruitvale Station, and the heartbreaking performance from Octavia Spencer, who is proving she is not one and done after her win for The Help

Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb - Nebraska
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
Octavia Spencer - Fruitvale Station

This is a heavy category, but heavy on nominee possibilities rather than possible winners.  This race may shake out differently in 3 through 5, but make no mistake, this is a two-person race between Michael Fassbender, the evil plantation owner in 12 Years a Slave, and Jared Leto as the dying, cross dressing man in Dallas Buyers Club.  Both are brilliant performances in their own right, and it seems like a toss up on who should win at this point.
Now for the also rans, great performances that might have a shot to win in a different year.  First up is another newcomer, Barkhad Abdi, who stands toe to toe with Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips as the leader of the Somali pirates.  He deserves a nomination.  And with such a wave of publicity behind The Wolf of Wall Street, I expect Jonah Hill to nab a nomination, beating out people like James Franco for Spring Breakers and Will Forte for Nebraska.  This leaves a final slot, and an interesting conundrum.  Bradley Cooper seems to be in line for his flashy American Hustle role, but out there as well is the final acting performance of James Gandolfini in Enough Said.  Many feel Gandolfini deserves a nomination not simply because of his untimely passing, but because his performance is nuanced and softer than anything he had ever done in his career.  I will go the sentimental route here.
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Jonah Hill - Wolf of Wall Street
James Gandolfini - Enough Said