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Oscar Watching: A Smaller Best Actress Race


Best Picture

12 Years a Slave and Gravity look like the only potential winners of the films already screened. Fruitvale Station loses its ground as other films heat up the race, but is it out of the mix completely?

1. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

3. American Hustle (David O. Russell)

4. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)

5. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Lee Daniels)

6. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

7. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan and Joel Coen)

8. Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)

9. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)
11. Philomena (Stephen Frears)
12. Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)
13. Rush (Ron Howard)
14. August: Osage County (John Wells)
15. The Counselor (Ridley Scott)
16. The Book Thief (Brian Percival)
17. The Monuments Men (George Clooney)
18. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)
19. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
20. All is Lost (J.C. Chandor)
21. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
22. Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve)
23. Labor Day (Jason Reitman)
24. Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper)
25. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)

Also in the running: Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche), One Chance (David Frankel), The Past (Asghar Farhadi), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Justin Chadwick), The Conjuring (James Wan), Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh), Ender’s Game (Gavin Hood), Mud (Jeff Nichols)


Best Director

Steve McQueen looks like the new director to watch out for this Oscar season, but should we keep an eye on Stiller?

1. Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

2. Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave

3. Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher

4. David O. Russell for American Hustle

5. Alexander Payne for Nebraska

6. Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips
7. Ethan and Joel Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis
8. Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
9. Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station
10. Lee Daniels for Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Also in the running: Brian Percival for </>The Book Thief, John Lee Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks, Ron Howard for Rush, Stephen Frears for Philomena, Jeff Wells for August: Osage County, Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine, Ridley Scott for The Counselor, George Clooney for The Monuments Men, Jason Reitman for Labor Day, Jean-Marc Vallée for Dallas Buyers Club, Richard Linklater for Before Midnight, Denis Villeneuve for Prisoners, Asghar Farhadi for The Past, J.C. Chandor for All is Lost, Abdellatif Kechiche for Blue is the Warmest Color


Best Actress in a Leading Role

I would say that the recent departure of Cotillard and Kidman loosens up the tight race, but was she a huge part of the conversation? Sure, the race centers on previous winners – Bullock, Blanchett, and Meryl Streep, to name a few – at the moment, but Cotillard and Kidman haven’t been among them.

But at least we’ll get to see quite a bit of Kidman next year when Grace of Monaco and The Railway Man hit theaters. (I’m getting ahead of myself, but maybe Harvey plans to get her in for the latter?) Beyond that, Blanchett looks like the current leader with Bullock just behind her. Still, I see Amy Adams winning for American Hustle.

1. Amy Adams for American Hustle

2. Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

3. Sandra Bullock for Gravity

4. Adèle Exarchopoulos for Blue is the Warmest Color

5. Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

6. Judi Dench for Philomena
7. Kate Winslet for Labor Day
8. Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks
9. Sophie Nélisse for The Book Thief
10. Brie Larson for Short Term 12

Also in the running: Kristen Wiig for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Bérénice Bejo for The Past, Julie Delpy for Before Midnight, Léa Seydoux for Blue is the Warmest Color, Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha, Shailene Woodley for The Spectacular Now, Rooney Mara for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Felicity Jones for The Invisible Woman, Paulina García for Gloria, Rooney Mara for Side Effects, Hailee Steinfeld for Romeo and Juliet, Alexandra Roach for One Chance, Chloë Grace Moretz for Carrie, Rachel McAdams for About Time, Amanda Seyfried for Lovelace


Best Actor in a Leading Role

The Mud screener might give Matthew McConaughey an eventual edge for his Dallas Buyers Club performance. I’d say he has the edge over his competition right now, but Steve Carell might pull ahead once Foxcatcher finally screens at the AFI Fest. We also have veteran Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor of best picture front-runner 12 Years a Slave, and two-time winner Tom Hanks, who looks to make a major comeback, to consider.

1. Steve Carell for Foxcatcher

2. Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

3. Bruce Dern for Nebraska

4. Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave

5. Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips

6. Robert Redford for All is Lost
7. Michael B. Jordan for Fruitvale Station
8. Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis
9. Forest Whitaker for Lee Daniels’ The Butler
10. Christian Bale for American Hustle

Also in the running: Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugh Jackman for Prisoners, Chris Hemsworth for Rush, Matt Damon for The Monuments Men, Michael Fassbender for The Counselor, Joaquin Phoenix for Her, Idris Elba for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Christian Bale for Out of the Furnace, James Corden for One Chance, Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight, Will Forte for Nebraska, Casey Affleck for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Ralph Fiennes for The Invisible Woman, Tye Sheridan for Mud


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Oprah Winfrey still sits atop this race due to lack of competition, but will the performance and narrative – the latter of which is questionable in terms of how much it’ll help – will survive like (I expect) Lee Daniels’ The Butler itself will? As I’ve been saying, we should keep an eye on Cameron Diaz this season. She almost secured Oscar nods on two occasions – two occasions more than Bullock had before she won for The Blind Side, I might add. She’ll be a serious threat to win if she delivers in The Counselor.

I wonder if there will be enough love for Margo Martindale to break into the eventual top five since it looks like there’s little love for August: Osage County itself. Octavia Spencer slips as contenders in bigger films make their way into the race.

But who knows? Jennifer Lawrence might rule the awards season once again but in another category. We still need to see her, not to mention co-star Adams in Her, Vanessa Redgrave in Foxcatcher, and Emily Watson in The Book Thief.

1. Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

2. Cameron Diaz for The Counselor

3. Oprah Winfrey for Lee Daniels’ The Butler

4. Margo Martindale for August: Osage County

5. Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle

6. June Squibb for Nebraska
7. Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station
8. Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
9. Shirley MacLaine for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
10. Amy Adams for Her

Also in the running: Vanessa Redgrave for Foxcatcher, Sarah Paulson for 12 Years a Slave, Carey Mulligan for Inside Llewyn Davis, Emily Watson for The Book Thief, Melissa Leo for Prisoners, Viola Davis for Prisoners, Naomie Harris for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County, Jennifer Garner for Dallas Buyers Club, Penélope Cruz for The Counselor, Julianne Nicholson for August: Osage County, Juliette Lewis for August: Osage County, Alfre Woodard for 12 Years a Slave, Cate Blanchett for The Monuments Men, Scarlett Johansson for Don Jon


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Jared Leto looks like the one to beat right now, but this would be his first nomination. Considering how this category rarely goes to films ignored in other major categories outside of the acting races, contenders like Michael Fassbender (in a major Oscar contender) and John Goodman (overdue veteran, in a likely Oscar contender) have an edge. We have no idea about Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo, but their films look like bigger Oscar plays than Dallas Buyers Club.

Industry love for the late Gandolfini could propel him to a nomination for his work in Enough Said; an Indie Spirit nod is almost certain, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up with a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. Meanwhile, Daniel Brühl slips as Rush loses its steam.

1. Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

2. Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave

3. Jeremy Renner for American Hustle

4. John Goodman for Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

6. James Gandolfini for Enough Said
7. Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
8. Daniel Brühl for Rush
9. Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
10. Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks

Also in the running: Harrison Ford for 42, Javier Bardem for The Counselor, Matthew McConaughey for Mud, Josh Brolin for Labor Day, Chris Cooper for August: Osage County, Jake Gyllenhaal for Prisoners, Benedict Cumberbatch for August: Osage County, Geoffrey Rush for The Book Thief, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, David Oyelowo for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher, Steve Coogan for Philomena, Woody Harrelson for Out of the Furnace, Sam Shepard for August: Osage County, James Franco for Spring Breakers


Best Original Screenplay

This might be David O. Russell’s year, but we’re in the dark until American Hustle screens. Bob Nelson moves into the lineup as Nebraska looks like a bigger threat by the day.

1. Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón for Gravity

2. David O. Russell and Eric Singer for American Hustle

3. Ethan and Joel Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis

4. Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine

5. Bob Nelson for Nebraska

6. Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station
7. Spike Jonze for Her
8. Danny Strong for Lee Daniels’ The Butler
9. Cormac McCarthy for The Counselor
10. Peter Morgan for Rush

Also in the running: Asghar Farhadi for The Past, Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith for Saving Mr. Banks, Aaron Guzikowski for Prisoners, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack for Dallas Buyers Club, Scott Cooper and Brad Inglesby for Out of the Furnace, J.C. Chandor for All is Lost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright for The World’s End, Carey W. Hayes for The Conjuring, Jeff Nichols for Mud, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Way, Way Back, David Lowery for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha, Justin Zackham for One Chance, James Gray and Richard Menello for The Immigrant, Scott Z. Burns for Side Effects, Derek Cianfrance, Bob Coccio, and Darius Marder for The Place Beyond the Pines

12 Years A Slave

Best Adapted Screenplay

It looks like John Ridley’s Oscar to lose, but we still haven’t seen Foxcatcher or The Book Thief. Are we underestimating Philomena?

1. John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave

2. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher

3. Billy Ray for Captain Phillips

4. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena

5. Michael Petroni for The Book Thief

6. Steve Conrad for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
7. Tracy Letts for August: Osage County
8. George Clooney and Grant Heslov for The Monuments Men
9. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater for Before Midnight
10. Jason Reitman for Labor Day

Also worth mentioning: William Nicholson for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for The Spectacular Now, Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street, Abi Morgan for The Invisible Woman, Andrew Bovell for A Most Wanted Man, Joss Whedon for Much Ado About Nothing, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon for Monsters University, Josh Singer for The Fifth Estate, Peter Berg for Lone Survivor, Julian Fellowes for Romeo and Juliet, Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, and Fran Walsh for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.