Oscar Preview 2014 – Best Supporting Actor/Actress

By D.G. McCabe

Oh the acting categories.  Generally speaking these are considered to be the “glamor” categories, since this is what gives all the glamorous people an excuse to dress so glamorously.  Full disclosure – I haven’t seen all of these movies.  I’ll indicate which movies I’ve seen and which I haven’t.

Best Supporting Actor

1. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Saw this one. Jared Leto has been winning everything in sight this awards season, and with good reason.  Television badboy, above average rockstar, guy who is apparently obsessed with Japanese culture – none of this descriptors seem to indicate that Leto could succeed in the role of the tough drag queen, drug addict, and AIDS patient Rayon.  He nails it though, and if he wins on Sunday night, it will be well earned.

2. Michael Fassbinder – 12 Years a Slave

Saw this one.  Fassbinder hasn’t been winning much for this role – a villainous slave master and sexual predator.  In any other year I think he’d be a favorite, as his portrayal of Edwin Epps is monstrous and terrifying, but avoids the kind of mustache twirling that would tempt a lesser actor.

3. Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Didn’t see this one.  I can’t comment on Abdi’s performance, since I didn’t see his portrayal of Somali pirate Abduwali Muse.  Academy members love a rags to riches story though, and Abdi is a Somali immigrant from the upper midwest who was working as a limo driver before he was cast as a central character in a Tom Hanks vehicle.  Pretty compelling if you go in for that sort of thing.

4. Bradley Cooper – American Hustle

Saw this one.   Cooper should buy David O. Russell an expensive automobile, because if it weren’t for this and last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” I’m pretty sure he’d be relegated to rom-com/gross out comedy purgatory.   His turn as as the repugnant Richie DeMaso is quite a departure from his usual roles so far in his career.

5. Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

Didn’t see this one.  It seems that Hill snuck in right under the wire for an Oscar nomination here.  I haven’t seen The Wolf of Wall Street, and knowing Scorsese’s history as a great manager of actors (maybe the best ever), I’m sure his take as Donnie Azoff is a worthy performance.  My prediction is that we’ll be wishing him better luck next time.

Best Supporting Actress

1. Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Saw this one. I know that the Screen Actors Guild disagrees with me, but American Hustle would be an above average period piece if it weren’t for Jennifer Lawrence.  As the dim witted Rosalyn Rosenfeld she adds humor to what could easily have been a fairly humorless and routine tale of deception and the death of the American dream.  I don’t think there have been many actors or actresses her age that could carry a film like that from a supporting role.

2. Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Saw this one.  I’ll admit that it’s a bit of a battle royale this category between Lawrence and Nyong’o.  Nyong’o if phenomenal as the abused slave Patsey, and draws the audience into her character’s tortuous life.  12 Years a Slave is a terrifying, night terror of a film, and Nyong’o’s performance is a big part of that.  It really depends on the taste of the Academy members for drama or comedy for this one.

3. Julia Roberts – August: Osage County

Didn’t see this one. Was this an excuse for the Academy to get Julia Roberts to come to their little awards ceremony and sit in the front row?  Maybe, but all the reviews I’ve seen indicate that she nails it as Barbara Weston-Fordham.  There are few actresses that can measure up to Roberts when she’s at the top of her game.

4. June Squibb – Nebraska

Didn’t see this one. Nebraska got some great reviews and seems to be a classic ensemble piece.  June Squibb plays Kate Grant, the wife/mother of the two main characters.  Squibb has had a long career, most of which is on stage.  Given that the Academy’s membership skews older and more classically trained, she could surprise some people.

5. Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine

Didn’t see this one.  The Academy likes performances from independent films – to a point that is.  Woody Allen’s films have been a notable exception – traditionally Oscar gold for actors and actresses of all ages.  I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine, but Sally Hawkins performance as Ginger is the latest in a long line of Allen nominees, including this year’s best Actress favorite, Cate Blanchett.

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe

2013 Oscar Preview – The Acting Categories

By D.G. McCabe

And so we have the four acting categories.  While, unlike the technical categories, voters may not pay deference to the technical guild awards, actors represent a huge segment of academy voters, so the Screen Actors Guild isn’t a bad place to start when looking for a gauge on who’s going to win.  Anyway here’s my preview:

Best Actor (Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables; Denzel Washington, Flight)

It’s hard to beat Daniel Day-Lewis when he’s up for something, and this year is no different.  He’s been cleaning up this award season and no one’s been talking about any of the other nominees as having much of a chance.  Let’s face it – he’s probably going to win.

Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Naomi Watts, The Impossible; Emmanuelle Riva, Amour)

Also cleaning up this awards season is Jennifer Lawrence.  Everyone else except Jessica Chastain has an “honor just to be nominated” feel and Zero Dark Thirty will probably get snubbed overall on Sunday night.  Once again, we have a clear favorite.

Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams, The Master; Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables; Sally Field, Lincoln; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook)

This preview is getting a bit dull.  I just don’t think anyone other than Anne Hathaway  has much of a chance here.  If there was a ton of momentum for a sweep by Silver Linings Playbook I could see an upset, but there doesn’t seem to be that kind Return of the King style uber-buzz this year.  Hathaway is the safe choice.

Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin, Argo; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook; Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Master; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained)

Finally!  We have something to talk about!  Argo has a lot of momentum, the buzz around Lincoln seems to be dissipating, and DeNiro and Hoffman are legends.  The only one I couldn’t see winning this category is Waltz – there just isn’t enough talk about Django Unchained to make me think that he’ll get the upset.  Jones won the SAG award, but I’m going to go with Arkin here.  If Argo wins best picture it’s going to take some other high profile awards too, and this is the only acting category with a nomination.

(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe