Monday, January 24, 2011

Predicting the Oscar Nominees: Part 2/3 (Acting)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine"

Alternate: Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right"
Still in the Hunt: Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit", Noomi Rapace, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Hilary Swank, "Conviction", Lesley Manville, "Another Year"

This race is fiercely competitive for the fifth spot, if you assume that Nicole Kidman is safe enough to coast in on reputation despite a serious dearth of buzz for "Rabbit Hole" itself. Part of me wanted to put Steinfeld into the predicted lineup since the Academy has previously shown the sense to amend category fraud, but they've only really done it once for an Actress this young -- Keisha Castle-Hughes for "Whale Rider" (2003). The reality, of course, is that Steinfeld could end up without a nomination at all.

Beyond that, there's the obvious love for the Millennium trilogy, which has seen Rapace turn up at BFCA and BAFTA (decent prognosticators for Oscar) without there really being much of a campaign. There's also a case for Julianne Moore (if they love the film enough) and Hilary Swank, whose film died a death but was somewhat resurrected by the Screen Actors Guild. And then there's NBR winner Lesley Manville: their Best Actress choice has been nominated for the past 19 years.

I'm going to go with Michelle Williams, because she's a) been nominated before b) is at the right career point, and c) has a sympathetic role in a DECEMBER film. But it could very well be one of those other five women.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

Alternate: Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"
Still in the Hunt: Mark Wahlberg, "The Fighter", Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"

The SAG lineup looks like the most probable outcome for this race, since Bridges and Duvall are crucially older (Oscar respects the elders, zzzz) and Javier Bardem doesn't appear to have made the impact some were expecting post-Cannes. But he does seem the most likely spoiler, given the incredibly baity role and previous win in 2007. I didn't have the heart to leave Gosling off this list, because he's so brilliant that I don't know how anyone could leave him off the ballot, but alas, the best performances are rarely acknowledged. If "The Fighter" turns out to be a huge success with AMPAS then Wahlberg is a legitimate contender, although, without having seen the film, it doesn't seem as if his role is showy enough.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"

Alternate: Mila Kunis, "Black Swan"
Still in the Hunt: Barbara Hershey, "Black Swan", Lesley Manville, "Another Year"

It's ridiculously stupid to bet against Mila Kunis, who has a slam dunk trio of Globe, BFCA, and SAG nominations, but I just don't think her performance is enough up Oscar's alley, and she has internal competition from Hershey. This is probably the most volatile category, with the Steinfeld category confusion, the Black Swan face/off, and a growing consensus (?) that Lesley Manville is Supporting in "Another Year". Anyone who buys this assertion: watch the final shot again. Everything is told through her character.

I could get 3/5 here, but I can't bring myself to drop Jacki Weaver.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
Andrew Garfield, "The Social Network"
Jeremy Renner, "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"

Alternate: John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"
Still in the Hunt: Sam Rockwell, "Conviction", Billy Murray, "Get Low", Michael Douglas, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

It looks as if Renner is in above Hawkes, although I'd love to see them switch places. Either way, this will be a brilliant category. I'm thinking that Sam Rockwell is in a bit of a Michael Shannon/"Revolutionary Road" position, but 2008 wasn't as strong as this, so it looks as if he'll miss out here.

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