At this point of the awards season, we only have the SAG nominees and the Golden Globes nominees to fall back on how the Oscars might deal out their nominations. Frankly, that isn’t a lot and therefore it’s still all up in the air. Looking at the amount of quality films this year, I don’t remember a year that has quite this many amazing performances by actors in… maybe over a decade? Maybe even longer? Just take a glimpse at this list of potential nominees:
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Robert Redford (All is Lost)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Joaquin Phoenix (Her)
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Hugh Jackman (Prisoners)
Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
Those are eleven incredible leading performances this year and in my opinion they all deserve to be nominated for an Oscar. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work and here I am trying to predict which five are going to be nominated. This year, it’s much more difficult than usual.
Let’s start out with the definites, or those who I think are practically a shoe-in for a nomination. That would begin with Chiwetel Ejiofor with easily the most emotional performance of the entire year in 12 Years a Slave. I cannot imagine him being snubbed. It was just a masterful performance by an underrated actor.
And then that’s it. Honestly, I can picture any four actors from the list above to be in this category, and just because Ejiofor is a front-runner doesn’t mean he’s a favorite to win the award.
The way I see it, there are sub-categories these actors can be placed in. Bruce Dern and Robert Redford are the veterans of the game and will receive a lot of the elderly votes from The Academy, along with those who feel this might be their last opportunity to be recognized. Unfortunately, these two might split these votes and both might not make the final cut.
Then you have Tom Hanks and Forest Whitaker, two former winners who are both having a comeback to the awards circuit. They’re both lovable and are anything but new to the way things run this time of the year. This could prove to be very beneficial.
Next you have Leonardo DiCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix, two actors who have received a number of nominations but have never won. The Academy tends to reward actors like these, and it’s proven that they’re both very much liked in the community. While Phoenix was nominated just last year for The Master (a somewhat surprising nomination), DiCaprio hasn’t been nominated since 2007 for Blood Diamond. So he’s been snubbed for his performances in movies like Revolutionary Road, Inception, and Django Unchained. What gives?
Next you have The Prestige… well what I mean to say is that Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman have both received only one nomination each. Yes, Bale won but that was for a Supporting Role for The Fighter, while Jackman was nominated last year for Les Miserables. So while these two aren’t completely new to awards season, it’s still quite fresh and they’re both looking for their first Best Leading Actor award.
Finally, the newbie category. Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, and Idris Elba fall here because they’ve never been nominated. Also, I would put Chiwetel Ejiofor here as well since he’s never been nominated, but I already expressed my opinion about him. Isaac and Elba both have had stand-out performances in their respected movies, but can they really compete with the bigger stars?
I’d like to think that the voters are going to pick one from each sub-category that I’ve discussed. So putting in Ejiofor, we have four more spots. For the veteran category, that’s a coin flip. I guess if I had to choose, I’d go with Bruce Dern because of the SAG snub to Redford. Then for the comebacks, I’d take Hanks over Whitaker. For the overdue sub-category, I’ll go with DiCaprio over Phoenix. For the Prestige, well I don’t think I’m going to take either Jackman or Bale on this one. And for the newbies, I think The Academy will finally give McConaughey a well deserved nomination.
But hey, what the hell do I know? Probably nothing.