Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Very Early Oscar Predictions - Best Actress

This whole week I am joined by Clarence Moye, and we are taking a look at the big categories for this year's Oscars.  Yesterday, we broke down our very early predictions for Best Actor, and today we focus on the leading ladies.

Moser - Best Actress
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jessica Chastain, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Anna Kendrick, The Last Five Years
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Moye - Best Actress
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jessica Chastain, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Moye: OK, Joey, yesterday you mentioned the Best Actor race bored you to tears, but Best Actress is where your bread is buttered (I’m paraphrasing greatly). What has you so excited about the Best Actress race year after year?

Moser: It looks like our Actress picks line up pretty close as well! I am a total Nathaniel Rogers disciple. I’ve always gravitated towards films that star women, and I’ve always been a fan of seeing my favorite actresses winning in this category. I’m excited for this year in particular because this might be the year that Amy Adams picks up her first Oscar. It also appears that some of my favorite actresses (Julianne Moore, Streep, Jessica Chastain, etc.) are headlining some interesting projects this year. 

I think Rosamund Pike has a great shot to get in for Fincher’s Gone Girl. If you’ve read the book, then you know what a great part Amy Dunne is. I think Pike’s performance is the one I am looking forward to the most. Fincher does great with women but not in an overly showy way. I rooted for Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I loved Taraji P. Henson and Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.    

Where'd you go, girl?

Moye: I think those two performances from Benjamin Button are outstanding, and I’m a huge fan of the film. I’m not 100 percent on the Gone Girl bandwagon just yet. Having indeed read the book (and, be honest, who hasn’t read the book by this point), I suspect this film will end up being more Panic Room, The Game, or Dragon Tattoo Fincher than Social Network or Zodiac Fincher. Still, if it’s any good, then Pike will get in.

Moser:  Ah, so you think it would just be more of a commercial hit then? Did you like Gillian Flynn’s book? Maybe I go gaga over Gone Girl because I had such an interesting experience with it. I read it before it became HUGE with some friends who all went crazy for it. 

Moye: I have issues with the book, particularly in the final stretch, but I’m confident Fincher will work those out in the film.

Moser:  Hmm. We’ll have to have a sidebar on that one (I’m a big fan of the third act, so we can make an entire post on the film adaptation surely). Another feature film that’s based on a book is Wild, and it stars Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon. You know, I am really looking forward to Wild, and I admit that I am surprised by my excitement. Witherspoon is such a likable actress, but I’ve always felt I can see her acting. She plays a woman who walks 1,110 miles in order to deal with a personal tragedy. It all looks so toned down. Jean-Marc Vallee is at the helm, and he directed McConaughey to his Actor win last year. I bet “from the director of Dallas Buyers Club” will sell a lot of people.

Gone girl.

 Another person we are excited for is Jessica Chastain. She’s doing soooo much this year. That Miss Julie trailer is like a theater kid’s wet dream. The costumes! The production design! Colin Farrell! I was the only one to discuss Miss Julie in my Foundations of Modern Drama class in college, so I am anxious to see it.

Moye: Yeah, I agree with you totally on Witherspoon and Chastain. I haven’t yet caught the trailer for Miss Julie, but Eleanor Rigby is her big play this year. I’m actually wondering if there is a small chance that Eleanor Rigby could break out and also carry along James McAvoy or maybe Best Picture itself. If you see that happen, then watch out: Chastain for the win. I’m kind of leaving out commentary on Reese Witherspoon. I liked the trailer for Wild well enough, and she has that other film out this year called The Good Lie that reeks of nobility (white woman saves the black men). On paper, both projects kind of bore me. I realize I haven’t seen either film, but that’s my early reaction. Maybe she’ll gnaw through her arm in Wild or something like that.

Moser:  I remember being a bit surprised when McAvoy didn’t ride on Atonement’s coattails and earn a nomination. But, then again, I was nuts for that movie. Eleanor Rigby looks great. I love how the trailer switches between perspectives, because none of us remember everything the same way. The Good Lie gives me shingles. I mean…I just…it doesn’t…why the actual fuck? But, hey, if they put “Witherspoon gnaws through her arm” on the poster for The Good Lie, I will buy a ticket NOW. Let’s talk about something we both love to wash The Blind Side-ness out of our mouths, shall we? Musical theater!

You and I are both huge fans of Into the Woods, but I am wondering how they will split up the campaigns for it. I spend way too much time thinking about this particular subject. Joanna Gleason won Lead Actress in a Musical at the Tonys in 1988, and Bernadette Peters’ Witch wasn’t even nominated. But, of course, Meryl Streep is playing The Witch, so we need to take that into consideration. I think Emily Blunt will be Supporting, and they will position Meryl for Lead. That leaves one spot left…and my mind is racing. Are you as fraught as I am with this category?

Moye: I don’t think I’m fraught with anything this early in the race. It’s not until January where I start losing sleep. I would be shocked if Streep was positioned for Supporting and Blunt for Lead. No matter the overall quality of the film, I’m fairly certain both of them will make it into the race.

Moser: I’m totally fine with Blunt taking Lead. Part of me says that The Baker’s Wife has more of an arc than The Witch does, but I am not sure if I can defend that statement or not.

Moye: For those who don’t know the show, you really should check out the American Playhouse original cast version, currently available on Netflix. In the original stage version, I would agree that the major arc of the piece belongs to the Baker and his Wife. After you put it that way, I could actually see Blunt going for lead. Still, I’m thinking Streep’s status in Hollywood gets the Best Actress slot over newbie Blunt.

Moser: Oh, I didn’t know it was on Netflix! I feel like I just searched for it, but I couldn’t find it. I need to re-listen to the show. Streep is Streep, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they plopped her down here. It’s not a bad choice in terms of solidifying a nomination. I don’t know if she’s a sure thing though, so I was going to leave her out. But…who would I replace her with at this point? I am going to go out on the biggest limb and predict another musical theater performance: Anna Kendrick in The Last Five Years. I’m an idiot (and it probably won’t happen) but isn’t that what predicting at this point is all about?  If they do that movie right, it could be a killer show for Kendrick.

Moye: It’s an interesting pick, and I do think she’s a fantastic actress. Still, I’m not even sure when that film is coming out. It reminds me of the film version of The Fantasticks that literally never saw the light of day. Moving on from our jaunt into musical theater, the big rumor last year was that Amy Adams wouldn’t win Best Actress for American Hustle because (she didn’t deserve it) she had a big performance coming with Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. She’s playing a famous painter, Margaret Keane, who fought against her husband for credit over her work. I don’t know how you beat the combination of tortured artist + presumed courtroom scenes + the fantastic Amy Adams for a nomination. I do have a gut instinct that I’m putting too much stock in Burton’s film. He is not exactly Academy-friendly when it comes to the big races, but it is a huge change of pace for him. I’m assuming Keane doesn’t slit her husband’s throat and bake him into meat pies. That might be awesome…

What 'Big Eyes' you have, Amy

Moser: Throw some Sondheim music in there, and you have a masterpiece. I just read that Keane still paints, and she’s 87 years old. Adams met with her to discuss her life in preparation for her role in Big Eyes. That’s an Oscar story right there. 

Moye: Obviously, I need to do my research because I didn’t know she was still alive. I’m sure they’ll be trotting her out come award time. We’ll talk about Unbroken later, but I guarantee someone in the awards race was pissed Louie Zamperini died before campaigning could begin (no offense intended to anyone). Still, it does make a great story… At any rate, what other actresses do you think are candidates this year? I think there are a lot of smallish performances bubbling up that could break through. Most of the buzz for actresses thus far came from Cannes: Hilary Swank in The Homesman; Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night; and Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars. Cotillard’s film will be too left field for most Academy viewers, and Moore is probably going supporting from what I’ve heard. And God as my witness I will stab myself in the eye repeatedly with a needle if I have to endure another Hillary Swank Oscar win.

Can one of these claim a (n out damn!) spot?

 Moser: I heard The Homesman was pretty good, so maybe you should remove all sharp objects from your home upon its release? I sure would like to see what Swank’s Oscar losing face looks like. Cotillard also has Macbeth coming out if it ever gets a release date (even though the Academy doesn't really go for Shakespearean performances). Dying to see Maps to the Stars, and Sasha Stone’s comments on it only made me more excited. Maybe Shailene Woodley could come back around for The Fault in Our Stars, but I doubt that will come back around. She’s really good in it. 

So as of now maybe Best Actress is more interesting than its Actor counterpart?

Moye: (sound of flesh cutting) Sure, that’s fine if Swank gets nominated again. (sound of blood dripping to the floor) I’m sure she’s just fine. I do have high hopes for the Macbeth redo, but I wonder if Lady Macbeth is more of a supporting role than a lead. It’s been years since I’ve read the play. And, one day, Shailene Woodley will be an Oscar nominee. I have no doubt of that. But I don’t think it’s going to be for the film where she triumphantly (if unrealistically) climbs to Anne Frank’s bedroom to make out with her boyfriend. I don’t care how much that made you sob. I’m going to have to draw it a line here… All the Swank-induced blood loss is making me light-headed.

Moser:  MEDIC!!!

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