Monday, August 4, 2014

Very Early Oscar Predictions - Best Actor

I teamed up with Clarence Moye to discuss the big 6 categories for this year's Academy Awards.  Since the summer is just starting to wind down, a lot of the more awards-friendly films are on the horizon, and we wanted to try and predict the nominees.  Each day we are going to discuss some contenders, and today we are going to start with Best Actor.  

Moser - Best Actor
Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner

Moye - Best Actor
Chadwick Boseman – Get On Up
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner 

Moser: To be honest, I find myself not caring for Best Actor a lot. I am always a lot more interested in the Actress races, but Lead Actor is tied in with Picture a lot (especially in the last decade). Steve Carell leads the pack for Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, but is he going to be joined by any of his co-stars? I have a feeling that Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum will be campaigned in Supporting. Do you think Carell is way out in front? 

Moye: Probably, but only because he’s the strongest contender that’s been widely seen. He hasn’t really had a role like this before, and, by all accounts, he knocks it out of the park. This seems to be his time, if not to win, then to be nominated. Plus, I think overall love for Foxcatcher and respect for Bennett Miller as an artist will help. I can understand where you’re coming from about the Best Actor race. We haven’t had a truly exciting race in the Best Actor field since probably 2008 when Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke fought it out or a truly shocking winner since way back in 2002 when Adrien Brody unexpectedly triumphed for The Pianist.

Moser:  That’s so weird that you mention 2008, because I was just mentioning to Megan (fellow ADTV contributor and writer of Megoblog) that that was the only year that I remember being totally on edge about who was going to win.

Moye: I was very afraid Mickey Rourke would win as I was squarely in Team Penn that year. I actually hated The Wrestler, but that’s a conversation for another day. Back on 2014, at this point, my thoughts are all shots in the dark. I would love to see Ellar Coltrane nominated for his unique work in Boyhood. As a child, I had visions of becoming an actor in a very similar manner to Coltrane’s experience, so it’s kind of a “one for all of us” success story. Beyond that, there isn’t an obvious front-runner this year. Not like last year when those early pictures of Matthew McConaughey showed how far he was willing to go for Oscar. Carell could be that guy (great performance + prosthetics = Nicole Kidman’s Oscar win in The Hours), so Team Foxcatcher would be wise to push Ruffalo and Tatum to supporting, which I think they will do.

"If we put our heads together we can BOTH get nominated..."

 Moser: I agree that everyone else in Foxcatcher will go supporting.  When was the last time either of the Actor races had more than one nominee (for those keeping track at home, Lead Actor hasn’t had multiple nominees from the same film since 1984)?

Moye: I have to admit I had to look that one up. The Dresser? Have you ever heard of that one?

Moser: I haven’t heard of it!  I am a huge fan of Albert Finney (thanks, Dad), so I will try to track it down.  I wonder why it’s so much more common for women (especially in Supporting Actress) to get doubled up?  Can the Academy only “handle” the idea of one man leading the way, torch blazing, for a film. I’d argue that Brokeback Mountain had two leading performances.  Maybe they are more comfortable committing category fraud just to get more nominations? 

I’m with you with Carell. I don’t know if he will take it all the way, but the trailers have been hinting at an astonishing turn. It’s definitely not something we’re used to seeing him in. I am so glad you brought up Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get On Up. I feel like that could have a lot more heat than people are anticipating. The film had a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and he could definitely get a bump when Golden Globe nominations come out.

"Ain't nobody got time for Oscar!"

 Moye: I’m less hot on Boseman than when I first made this list. I figured the film was well positioned for some late summer box office, but it’s not The Help or The Butler judging from this weekend’s numbers. We’ll see how it trends over the next few weeks, but I suspect his performance is going to get lost in the noise. Much like his acclaimed work in last year’s 42.

Moser: I thought Get On Up would at least take the number two spot at the box office this week, but it looks like Scarlett Johansson held strong. He’s still getting good notices, though, so I will keep him in there for the time being. He’s the most susceptible to falling out at the moment. Would you agree? Who do you think could take his place? Maybe Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice? He can try as hard as he want to not get a nomination, but he’s such a great actor.

Moye: He’s a possibility, but it depends on how big his role is and out “out there” the film itself is. I’m getting an ensemble vibe from what I’ve heard, and I’m way too lazy to read the novel. I suppose Ben Affleck is a possibility for Gone Girl, but he’s never been nominated for his performances. This one, I think, isn’t going to change that. If Boseman falls out, then there are a lot of candidates to take his slot but little to narrow them down. I do want to mention two fascinating possibilities that I will be watching through the rest of the year: Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins (love the trailer but the film may be too small) and Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man (strong indie box office and one of his last roles).

On the fringe?

 Moser:  I was tempted to put Affleck in there, because I think he’s perfectly cast in Gone Girl.  The characters that he and Rosamund Pike play really go hand in hand, so maybe he can get in there—especially if the film is a success with the Academy.

Moye: Not gonna happen…  

Moser: ANYWAY (we all know I have a Gone Girl/David Fincher boner), I would also love to see Spall get in there, but that’s mainly because I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve loved Spall for a long time. The one I’m not entirely sold on is your pick of Ellar Coltrane.  The story of Boyhood is so fascinating, and it’s the best-reviewed film of the year.  I am just not sure the Academy will give him a nomination.  I see them going for something more “Academy traditional.” 

Moye: I have two words for you: Quvenzhan√© Wallis. I’m shooting for the stars with my Coltrane pick in the hopes enough people start beating the drum. The Academy loves consensus.

 Moser:  A lot of people counted out Wallis because of her age, I think.  I don’t want to say her nomination was a surprise, but I think people wiped their brows in relief when her name was called.  The key is to keep his presence up for the rest of the season.  Linklater’s stuff usually comes out in the summer, and I think more visibility at the end of the year would definitely help.  Maybe they will re-release it?  It’s safe to say that we both have our fingers crossed for Coltrane. 

Moye: The critics need to bring it back at the end of the year, and, based on the nearly unparalleled reviews, they will. Plus, I suspect the film is intimate enough to play very well on Academy screeners. I’m seeing the film this week, so I’ll more to say later in our discussion.

Moser: Since we’re both seeing it this week, we can both report back on Coltrane’s performance and how we think he fits into Best Actor.

Moye: It’s a date. Hey, this was fun. Best actress tomorrow?

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