A few words around the awards season camp fire as the recent announcements of the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes sent us all into something of a spin. Here are 10 of the things that stood out for me in the last 24 hours. We’ve been begging for an exciting Oscar race like this for years, right?
The Actress Categories Are Riddled With New Generation Talent
We knew this already.It is swaying back and forth, both in the indication of the awards so far and in our own minds, in the Best Actress race between Brie Larson (Room) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) as the two to beat. Nothing is certain though, with the likes of Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), and Emily Blunt (Sicario) still in the conversation, some missed out in the last 2 days. Not to mention some sterling veterans in the shadows. And there is no real whiff of “she is owed” this year. Elsewhere, for the, what shall we call it, category confusion side of things Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl; Ex Machina) are certain nominees, while Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) is not to be ruled out. Neither is Kristen Stewart (Clouds of SIls Maria).
The Martian’s Comedic Awards Season Status
The Martian and Ridley Scott and Matt Damon were everywhere for the weeks leading up to the complete shut-out from the Screen Actors Guild. You could hear the murmurs of disappointment and glasses dropping to the floor with shock. An exceptional ensemble left out of the loop by some very surprising choices (I am not saying Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, and Trumbo are unwarranted) choices. The Golden Globes did what many of The Martian followers hoped for, which was to nominate the Picture, the Director, and the Actor. Great news indeed, and just like that The Martian is back in the game. And the Oscar race could really do with a good, credible “comedy” in the fight to the finish line.
Alicia Vikander Is Competing With Herself
Alicia Vikander was a contender for Woman of the Year long before awards season even kicked off. Featuring in movies like Burnt and The Man from U.N.C.L.E for starters, Vikander was excellent in the World War I drama Testament of Youth too early in the year. Her awards talk was always with The Danish Girl, even when the “category fraud” nonsense surfaced, but I am not the only one who prayed her role in Ex Machina (and the actual movie itself) would be memorable enough to make a run for it. Pleasantly so, Vikander has received recent plaudits and awards attention for both roles, so much so the whole cancelling herself out has not really applied – with 3 nominations in total from SAG and HFPA. However, this may mean she now has to compete with herself, with both films seemingly vying for Supporting Actress. Challenge accepted.
Best Song Invites More Diversity Again In Film Choices
I won’t name or shame, or attempt to project some film-snobbery opinions, but the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey and Furious 7 are very rarely going to be mentioned in awards season discussion, let alone be in the running for (major) awards. The Song category is not taken as seriously as many of the other shortlists, but it does boast some alternate titles when it is not all over the animation genre. This is also one of the most refreshing categories regarding its film showing – remember “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp”? However, I have to say I will be making more coffee while Sam Smith whines his way through the spoiled “Writings on the Wall” song (Spectre) when / if he performs it at the Oscars.
Mark Rylance Seems Like The Only Supporting Actor Lock
There’s never much debate that the supporting categories are possibly the most competitive and surprising, year in, year out. This year as the packs are reshuffled with every announcement, the name Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) seems to be the one sitting prettiest – reading and discussing around the various film sites he seems to be the strongest flavor. There is heavy, if inconsistent, competition though with Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), and late-comer Michael Shannon (99 Homes). Add to that alternative recent nominees like Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Christian Bale (The Big Short), and Jacob Tremblay (Room), not to mention Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), this is going to continue to sway with the wind.
Leonardo DiCaprio Is Getting A Standing Ovation
We’ve been talking up Leonardo DiCaprio for months now about his role in The Revenant giving him his first ever Oscar win. It has built up so much that he now appears to be the most overdue actor in Oscar history. He is not not, but film coverage is so loud now it is hard to block that notion out. His nominations with SAG and the Golden Globes are still significant if not so surprising – The Revenant screeners had apparently not arrived through the Guild members’ letterboxes yet. Whatever the state of the race though, there could well be a positive rapture of applause when Julianne Moore (once the most overdue actress in Oscar history?) hands DiCaprio the gold statuette.
Bryan Cranston May Ride The Wave To Oscar Night
So DiCaprio needs some competition right? It is not like Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), and Matt Damon (The Martian) are far behind (that could well be the Oscar 5). Tides change day-to-day though, and Bryan Cranston’s very recent endorsement (Trumbo) through nominations with both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press may well give him some momentum. He is liked by audiences of both film and TV, and has been in this game a while. There’s a whiff of Jennifer Aniston (Cake) about this, with a potentially different outcome.
Charlize Theron’s Omission Won’t Hurt Mad Max: Fury Road
Even though the roller-coaster awards success of Mad Max: Fury Road was / is welcomed with open arms, most of us were right behind Charlize Theron for a well-deserved best Actress bid. It looks like it might not happen now (though again, things can change at the drop of a very encouraging hat), but the George Miller train just keeps on trucking with further nods for Picture and Director with the HFPA. One ever-so-slightly worrying thing is that the Guilds weigh heavy on the Oscar nominations, and with no love from the actors there is still that chance Mad Max: Fury Road could run out of steam. A potentially tragic possibility indeed.
The Security Of Spotlight Acting Nods Are All Over The Place
The so-called front-runner, a horse that cannot surely fall no matter the hurdle. I have never been quite so sure with Spotlight’s sure-thing. We’ve have this before with a movie ticking all the right boxes at the right times, and then not prevailing. Not always, but sometimes. The Screen Actors Guild sprung a few surprises, and perhaps the omission of Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo was right up there. Sure, they could have cancelled each other out, but I am not wholly buying that either. Even more mysterious, but no less deserved, was the nomination for Rachel McAdams (the only acting nod in a movie crowded with men). Then the Golden Globes announced their nominations and there was no Spotlight shining on the acting. The acting votes weigh heavy overall with the Academy, but the lack of actual support in those categories does signal a small warning light that ought not to be ignored.
Carol Is The True Dark Horse
On top of my over-stated Cannes prediction that Dheepan would take the Palme d’Or, I also jeopardized my moderate reputation by stating Todd Haynes could be the man to win Best Director with AMPAS. I had not yet seen Carol, I was going with my gut, my longing for Haynes’ so-far invisible Oscar record to be vastly improved, but also the aura the movie has given off since then, and still is today. Carol won’t go away, even with the critics awards success which was more reassuring that surprising, the Cate Blanchett / Rooney Mara love story has only grown in power rather than getting forgotten in the dust. Not many are confidently declaring this as the favorite, but 2 acting nods with SAG (don’t fret about the lack of Ensemble mention) and HFPA, as well as Director and Picture mentions with the latter, do not dare rule out this one triumphing in the end.