With Golden Globes announcements two weeks from today, here are my most up-to-date predictions.
Analysis of early Oscar acting predictions
My top ten contenders in the four acting categories, with pros and cons. #1 will be my early favorite to win, followed by the next one, etc.
Top Five most likely (as of November 17, 2014)
1. THE EARLY FAVORITE: Michael Keaton (Birdman)
What will help him: Oscars love comeback movies, and this is his. Had several decades of success before falling off a little bit. Directed by a well-recognized and previously nominated name in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
What will hurt him: Oscars don’t generally reward comedies. May be upstaged by his co-stars. Will Steve Carell and Benedict Cumberbatch gain momentum?
2. RUNNER-UP: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
What will help him: Plays the role of his life, and also plays against type (which the Academy does like). Best film performance since Little Miss Sunshine. Bennett Miller directing helps his chances. Rave reviews from critics. Playing a real character, which may help.
What will hurt him: Competition from his co-stars may push him out of the race altogether, or into supporting. Momentum seems to be against him, and a good campaign might be necessary. Also, will a characterwith schizophrenia be rewarded?
3. DARK HORSE: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
What will help him: Playing a real life character will definitely help in this case. Stock has been rising for several years, both on film and television. Arguably the next Colin Firth.
What will hurt him: May be overshadowed by his co-stars. Not directed by a well-known name. How wide of a release will the film initially get?
4. DARK HORSE: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
What will help him: The Academy loves characters overcoming obstacles. Like Cumberbatch, plays a real character, and stock is also rising after Les Miserables and My Week With Marilyn.
What will hurt him: Age will work against him (just like it did for Jesse Eisenberg a few years ago). Subject matter may have too many similarities with other nominees. No recognizable director.
5. OUTSIDE SHOT: Jack O’Connell (Unbroken)
What will help him: The true-story angle, especially playing an Olympian. War survivors have been the occasional favorite for AMPAS. Breakout role in a film where early returns are promising.
What will hurt him: Christmas release date gives voters less time to judge the film on its merits. Like Redmayne, age isn’t on his side. Not known for a lot of large roles or outside of the United Kingdom.
The Next Five
6. ALTERNATE: David Oyelowo (Selma)
What will help him: Biopic (again). Early critical acclaim.
What will hurt him: Name recognition isn’t as high as the top three. Will this be one biopic too many? More known as a supporting than a lead.
7. ALTERNATE: Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
What will help him: Name recognition may push him over the top. Occasionally, the Academy will reward “quirky” films, especially with anti-heroic characters.
What will hurt him: Is his character too surly for the Academy? Rumored to be standoffish to these type of ceremonies. Is this a drama, or a dark comedy?
8. ALTERNATE: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
What will help him: Great marketing campaign, and a very unique trailer. Previously nominated. Willing to lose significant amount of weight to play the role.
What will hurt him: The film may be too dark for many Academy voters. May not live up to its promise. Needs a big momentum push.
9. ALTERNATE: Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice)
What will help him: Three-time nominee for acting. Had a triumphant comeback with The Master. The film has a very “gritty” feel that the Academy occasionally rewards.
What will hurt him: Too “quirky” of a film? Ensemble movies are tough to have a stand-out star, which this one is. Also rumored to downplay award season.
10. ALTERNATE: Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
What will help him: Big name recognition, and considered a long-time snub after eighteen years. Perhaps should have won for Schindler’s List. Stands out in an ensemble movie.
What will hurt him: March release date kills momentum. Wes Anderson films tend to be critically acclaimed when released, but lose too much steam when award season comes around. Comedies aren’t generally rewarded by the Academy.
The Top Five
1. THE EARLY FAVORITE: Amy Adams (Big Eyes)
What will help her: Having been nominated five previous times, she almost logged an upset win for American Hustle last year. Stock has been rising for a long time, particularly in award season.
What will hurt her: Only recently moving up to lead from supporting. Tim Burton films have been hit or miss with the Academy. Christmas release may hurt momentum.
2. RUNNER-UP: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
What will help her: Like Adams, Moore has some nomination history on her side, having been nominated four previous times. A good year for movies dealing with neurological conditions. Already won several early awards.
What will hurt her: Co-directed films tend to struggle, and neither director is a big name. How wide of a release will this film get? With regards to films dealing with psychology, is it overkill?
3. DARK HORSE: Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
What will help her: Early returns are promising. Up-and-comer whose name is beginning to get recognized.
What will hurt her: Maybe flying too far under the radar. Name recognition isn’t quite there yet. Redmayne’s performance may dominate the headlines. Other nominees may be too strong. Chance to be put into supporting.
4. DARK HORSE: Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
What will help her: Easily the best part of the film. Directed by David Fincher, which will help her case. Strong momentum based off of the film.
What will hurt her: Like Adams, still in the beginning stages of playing leads. Dark subject matter may work against her. The top three may have too much momentum in the early stages.
5. OUTSIDE SHOT: Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
What will help her: Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who did Dallas Buyers Club, which won three awards last year. Previous winner in this category. Has been a box-office draw for many years.
What will help her: Too many films this year. Early stages of a comeback trail, but it may not pay off. DUI arrest may have sadly hurt her previous image.
The Next Five
6. ALTERNATE: Jessica Chastain (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)
What will help her: Previously nominated twice. Runner-up for Best Actress two years ago for Zero Dark Thirty.
What will hurt her: May cancel herself out with other films. Better chance for Supporting Actress this year.
7. ALTERNATE: Emily Blunt (Into the Woods)
What will help her: Stock quickly rising. Film will be popular with many musical fans.
What will hurt her: Her canon of work isn’t as strong as it could be (not her, but the films themselves). May be overshadowed by Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick. Many won’t realize that she was in the film, let alone the lead. Stronger competition from the front-runners.
8. ALTERNATE: Hilary Swank (The Homesman)
What will help her: Won twice already, so may be an Academy favorite. Could be on the comeback trail after a so-so decade since her second win.
What will hurt her: Very few have heard of the film, and a good campaign may not be enough to save it. Very hit-or-miss in the last ten years.
9. ALTERNATE: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)
What will help her: Previous upset winner in this category. Performed in many critically acclaimed works. A good campaign may push her over the top.
What will hurt her: Has another film in consideration, so may cancel herself out. Has been down this road before- considered a favorite, then snubbed. Academy not always receptive to foreign language films in acting categories.
10. ALTERNATE: Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars)
What will help her: Considered the star of the breakout film of the summer. A strong up-and-comer with hopefully a great career ahead of her. Probably snubbed in Supporting for The Descendants three years ago, so it could be a “make up” nomination.
What will hurt her: After some recent comments, she may have rubbed voters the wrong way. Age will not be on her side. Needed a later release date.
Best Supporting Actor
1. THE EARLY FAVORITE: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
What will help him: Character actor who has been terrific in smaller roles for many years. Finally gets a chance at a “meaty” role, and early returns have him nailing the role. Featured in critically acclaimed films, like Juno, and TV shows, like Law and Order.
What will hurt him: This category tends to be very veteran-heavy, with Hawke, Norton, and Ruffalo considered contenders. Film isn’t as well known as several of the other ones in this categories. Musicals are occasionally an Academy favorite, but tends to fluctuate in recent decades.
2. THE RUNNER-UP: Edward Norton (Birdman)
What will help him: On a strong comeback trail in recent years. Has another successful film this year with Grand Budapest Hotel in his back pocket. Twice nominated, and lost in what was considered an upset (and his career has probably held up better since).
What will hurt him: Part may not be as “flashy” as anticipated. May be overshadowed by an ensemble cast. Many of his successful roles were in lesser-known films, and could have a weaker oeuvre in larger films.
3. DARK HORSE: Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
What will help him: Previously nominated, so may be rewarded for that. Playing a real character (and a murder victim, to boot) may garner him some votes. Big box office draw in recent years.
What will hurt him: Limited early release may hurt momentum. Faces tough competition. May be canceled out by his co-stars (Carell or Tatum).
4. DARK HORSE: Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
What will help him: One of the more underrated actors of his generation. Nominated twice for writing, and once for acting (in this same category), so could be rewarded for veteran status. The film is considered a landmark in filmmaking.
What will hurt him: Overshadowed by his co-stars, and a very tough category this year. Bigger acclaim for Arquette and Linklater.
5. OUTSIDE SHOT: James Gandolfini (The Drop)
What will help him: AMPAS occasionally rewards posthumous nominations. Considered the best part of the film. Usually one “out of nowhere” pick (last year was Jonah Hill), so it could give him momentum. Director Michael R. Roskam could be on the rise.
What will hurt him: More known for television than film. Film has mixed reviews. Could be rewarded on career rather than quality of the film.
The Next Five
6. ALTERNATE: Tim Roth (Selma)
What will help him: Previous nominee in this category. Rising momentum for the film will give him a good shot to steal a nomination.
What will hurt him: Nineteen years may be too much of a gap for nominations. Reportedly hurt by trailer. Hasn’t really had a great “comeback” film yet, and may not have enough momentum to push him over the top. Perhaps playing too far against type, and an unsympathetic character to boot. Release date will be a factor.
7. ALTERNATE: Miyavi (Unbroken)
What will help him: Early returns seem to push him over the top. Best Picture contenders have a strong chance, which this film appears to be. Strong ensemble cast, and could be a breakout role for him.
What will hurt him: Better known as a musician than an actor. Academy has a tendency to ignore Asian actors. May not even be the best in his own film- Domhnall Gleeson has a strong backing as well.
8. ALTERNATE: Robert Duvall (The Judge)
What will help him: Has the best career of any name mentioned so far. Four-time nominee in this category, and winner for Best Actor in the 1980s. Veteran status may push him over the top.
What will hurt him: Age is not on his side, albeit in the other direction. Film itself was blasted by critics, even if they praised his performance. Could be a bridesmaid in this category.
9. ALTERNATE: Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher)
What will help him: Breakout role in a critically acclaimed film. Strong cast will help his chances.
What will hurt him: Based on his past roles, it’s very hard to take him seriously. Could be canceled out by co-stars, if Carell is pushed down. Unsure if this is a lead or supporting role.
10. ALTERNATE: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)
What will help him: A previous nominee in this category. Has been steady, if not a huge draw, since that time. Has appeared in many critically acclaimed films in the past decade.
What will hurt him: The film itself is divisive amongst critics. Martin Short may steal the film more so than he does. May get lost in the ensemble.
Best Supporting Actress
1. THE EARLY FAVORITE: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
What will help her: Widely considered the biggest favorite to win so far. Academy has rewarded roles of mothers in the past. Film has wide critical acclaim. Comes from an acting family.
What will hurt her: As a result of the strong momentum, could open the door for an upset. Part isn’t as large as anticipated. If Felicity Jones gets bumped down from lead, she may face some tough competition.
2. RUNNER-UP: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
What will help her: Nominated recently in this category. Considered to have a rising stock in recent years. Could be rewarded for losing two years ago in lead.
What will hurt her: As previously mentioned, may cancel herself out in the lead actress category. Momentum is building for the film, but perhaps not fast enough. Lacks a big name director.
3. DARK HORSE: Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
What will help her: Nominated in lead category. Finally beginning to have a string of successes. Playing in a biopic helps.
What will hurt her: Like Chastain, perhaps may cancel herself out. Many of her successes weren’t widley recognized, so could take a while to recover momentum. Cumberbatch will receive more promotion. This category tends to reward newcomers, so perhaps this will work against her.
4. DARK HORSE: Emma Stone (Birdman)
What will help her: Could be considered a breakout role. Probably fits better as a supporting actor than a lead.
What will hurt her: Co-stars will get more promotion. Doesn’t have a string of successful films in the past. Age could be a factor.
5. OUTSIDE SHOT: Carmen Ejogo (Selma)
What will help her: Rising momentum for the film. Has been around for a while, and like Simmons, finally gets a shot with a “meaty” role. Performing in a biopic.
What will hurt her: Name recognition isn’t as big as others. Momentum for the film may be a false indicator of success. Performing in a film without a big-name star.
The Next Five
6. ALTERNATE: Laura Dern (Wild)
What will help her: Nominated for Best Actress before. Daughter of a recent nominee (Bruce Dern). On the beginning of a comeback trail.
What will hurt her: Reviews for When the Game Stands Tall may kill momentum. Promotion for the film wasn’t as wide as others. More publicity for Witherspoon.
7. ALTERNATE: Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
What will help her: Name recognition alone. Meatier role than anticipated.
What will help her: Streep fatigue is very real. May split votes with Anna Kendrick. Rumors of re-shoots abound, so we may not see a release this year. Film is slowly losing momentum.
8. ALTERNATE: Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
What will help her: Probably the most heroic character in a film full of anti-heroes. Has another film in her back pocket. Helps to have Fincher as director.
What will hurt her: Not enough name recognition. Co-star Kim Dickens may steal some votes. Faces a long uphill battle if nominated. Dark content of the film may not sway voters.
9. ALTERNATE: Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods)
What will help her: Previously nominated for an Oscar and a Tony. Strong musical background. High name recognition.
What will hurt her: May split votes with Streep. May get lost in an ensemble movie. Probably losing the most momentum in the fastest amount of time- many had her as a prohibitive favorite a few months ago.
10. ALTERNATE: Vanessa Redgrave (Foxcatcher)
What will help her: Won an Oscar in this category in 1977, and has a total of six nominations. Good reviews for the film may help her momentum. Mother roles rewarded by the Academy, as mentioned. Strong family bloodlines.
What will hurt her: Rubbed the Academy the wrong way with her controversial acceptance speech. Probably closer to the end of her career than the beginning. Age may not be on her side.