Final Oscar Predictions Part IV: Acting, Capital A for Acting

still-alice-moore

Now on to the tabloid fodder… the Actors. Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

 

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

 BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees:
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

 

Should I even bother? J.K. Simmons has this wrapped up. He’s had it wrapped up since Sundance 2014. Yes, Edward Norton gave him a slight scare when Birdman premiered stateside in October but ever since then it’s been smooth sailing for the vet. Couple his tremendous performance with his long career and we have one of the easiest calls of the night. If I had to make a personal pick, I’d probably go with Ruffalo’s understated turn in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, a film I found extremely difficult to love despite respecting its craftsmanship enormously. It also would be wonderful to see a guy like Hawke win for what is easily his best work to date. It’s a performance whose only flaw is its effortlessness. Sadly, as Ruffalo can attest, effortless only gets you a nomination, if that.

WILL WIN: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
COULD WIN: No one else
SHOULD WIN: Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Alfred Molina – Love is Strange

 

 

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

 BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees:
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

 

Like Simmons, this category is another done deal. Arquette’s performance, the best in this category by a landslide, is a wonder, the anchor of one of the year’s finest cinematic achievements. If there’s one award Boyhood deserves to win, it’s for Arquette’s lived-in work. No offense to the other four ladies (especially Stone and Streep) but they barely had much to work with to begin win. When filmmakers begin to write better supporting parts for female actors—parts that aren’t the same old supporting wife/daughter nonsense—maybe then we’ll have a more interesting race to talk about.

WILL WIN: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
COULD WIN: No one else
SHOULD WIN: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

 

 

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominees:
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

 

Wow! The Academy sure is playing catch up with the vets, huh! With Cate Blanchett finally winning her first Best Actress Oscar last year, and now Julianne Moore virtually assured of her first this year, maybe it’s time they get to work and start recognizing Annette Bening, Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver and Amy Adams too. But first, they’ll have to work with Alec Baldwin who played Blanchett’s husband in Woody Allen’s film last year, and now Moore’s husband in Still Alice. Annette, get on that phone now! But I digress. While I’m overjoyed that Rosamund Pike and Marion Cotillard (the year’s two best female performances) were recognized, both actresses know as well as I do that this is another done deal. Moore’s work in Still Alice may not be her absolute best but it’s definitely in the top-tier. And no one’s going to be pooh-poohing this win anyway. This is freaking Julianne Moore finally winning an Oscar on her sixth nomination! One thing’s for sure… it’s going to be the night’s longest standing ovation.

WILL WIN: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
COULD WIN: No one else
SHOULD WIN: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Beyond the Lights

 

THR_Actor

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominees:
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

 

Ah, Best Actor i.e. the only acting category that has a semblance of suspense this year. Although both Steve Carrell and Benedict Cumberbatch are excellent in their respective films, they’re both here for the ride. Better luck next time, chaps. Moving on to the actual race… For much of the season, the Best Actor race has been a two-hander between screen vet Michael Keaton in Birdman and relative newb Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Keaton dominated the critics groups but Redmayne took on frontrunner status when he won the Globe, SAG, and BAFTA in quick succession—a near unimpeachable trifecta. To my knowledge, only one actor has lost Best Actor after winning the aforementioned trio: Daniel Day-Lewis for Gangs of New York in 2002. The winner that year was Adrian Brody who appeared in a late-breaking film that gained massive momentum during voting. The nominee who fits that bill this year? Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. This is Cooper’s third acting nomination in as many years, making him the first actor since Russell Crowe to pull off such a feat. Moreover, he’s also a producer on American Sniper, which will become 2014’s highest grossing film by the end of the month. That being said, Brody was nominated by every major awards group on his way to the Oscar in 2002. He also won the BAFTA prior to the Oscar, a show that Cooper wasn’t even nominated at this year. A more likely comparison model for Cooper would be Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street last year i.e. a superstar putting out a career-best turn in a late breaking blockbuster directed by a renowned auteur. A lot of people thought DiCaprio would get it last year too but he couldn’t stop the McConaissance train. It’s going to be the same thing for Cooper—especially since Redmayne is a charming and handsome British actor starring in a British biopic about a charismatic, physically-disabled genius.  Talk about a killer combo.

WILL WIN: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
COULD WIN: Michael Keaton – Birdman
SHOULD WIN: Michael Keaton – Birdman
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

 

PART V: THE CREAM OF THE CROP

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