This year is particularly chaotic when it comes to the acting races in this Oscars, because precursor awards have been throwing snubs and surprise nominations left and right, culminating in a situation where we find several actors fighting to fill the final spot in the 5-nominee list.
For most of the season, Bradley Cooper stayed the presumed frontrunner for A Star is Born. Then, Bohemian Rhapsody happened and Rami Malek won the Globes. Not long after, Christian Bale took the Critics Choice Award. In terms of who will win between the three of them, it will likely come down to who takes the SAG, as is usually the case. Right now, it’s really anyone’s game. Beyond that, you have to think Viggo Mortensen gets in for Green Book, but with the late-hitting controversy it’s hard to say.
After that, things get murky. SAG went for John David Washington in BlackKklansman, so you’ve got to think he’s the best bet, but he was snubbed pretty much everywhere else. The critics have fervently and almost unanimously backed Ethan Hawks in First Reformed, and we see how once every now and then, the critics are able to propel an actor to a nomination despite lack of support from industry precursors. Next, Willem Dafoe, who was last year’s presumed runner-up in the Supporting Actor race, received nods by the Critics Choice and the Globes, and certainly cannot be overlooked. What weakens his position is that his film in general doesn’t seem to have made any kind of waves with voters. Finally, I believe Ryan Gosling still has an outside chance for First Man, if somehow Oscar voters get past the controversy surrounding the film to recognise his performance.
1. Christian Bale, Vice
2. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
3. Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
4. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
COULD INCLUDE INSTEAD:
John David Washington, BlackKlansman
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
The Best Actress race this year is analogous of a fight to the death for the last cookie in the jar. There are four seeming locks: Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, Olivia Colman and to a slightly lesser extent, Melissa McCarthy have more or less insurmountable leads as far as securing a nomination goes. In fact, Close, Gaga and Colman all stand a good chance of winning the Oscar, and once again it’ll come down to the SAG. Close is the frontrunner by a margin, and I think if she wins SAG it’s over. If Gaga wins SAG, I think she’ll have the edge but Close could still win. Colman could win the BAFTA, which will further leave things up in the air.
Either way, that leaves the final, fifth slot. The Critics Choice offered Yalitza Aparicio from Roma, Toni Collette from Hereditary and Emily Blunt from Mary Poppins Returns. The Globes brought Rosamund Pike for A Private War, Nicole Kidman in Destroyer and Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade into the conversation. Finally, the BAFTAs threw a curveball recently by nominating presumed 5th slot holder early on in the season, Viola Davis in Widows, who had been snubbed everywhere else. That brings us to SEVEN plausible nominees for ONE spot.
One has to think Emily Blunt holds the edge, having received a Critics Choice, Globe and SAG nomination. Yet the BAFTA snub raises many warning bells. A BRITISH actress playing an undeniably classic BRITISH character in a well-reviewed film… and the BAFTAs go for Viola Davis, who had more or less fallen off the radar by the time BAFTA nominations arrived, notably later than the other precursors. Some will point to Emily Blunt’s double nomination at the SAGs, with her supporting role in A Quiet Place also receiving a nod. While this may be perceived as incredible support for an actress overdue for a nomination, it may well split votes; some may choose to honour her in A Quiet Place instead and give the last Best Actress spot to another actress. I think it’s also apt to bring up another instance of a double nomination by the SAG: Helen Mirren the year she was nominated for both Trumbo and Woman in Gold. Eventually, she was snubbed and received NO nominations by the Oscars. There’s also the very outside possibility of Blunt being nominated in LEAD for A Quiet Place. Cries of category fraud abound when Blunt was nominated for AQP, with many decrying her placement in supporting as unfair to those with actual supporting roles, such as Regina King, who was woefully snubbed (more on that later).
The next most likely candidate then, appears to be Viola Davis. The late BAFTA boost may just carry her to the fifth slot, seeing as its the precursor announced closest to Oscars vote closing. Yet Widows has more or less been shunned completely, and the BAFTA is the ONLY thing to rely on.
Then there’s the critics darling, Toni Collette, who, like Ethan Hawke, could well be prodded into that fifth slot through overwhelming support by film critics despite a lack of industry precursors, a la Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years. Collette is a respected actress who, like Rampling, has sort of quietly built herself within the industry, and certainly has her fair share of supporters.
Further, there’s Yalitza Aparicio for Roma. One surmises that the sheer strength of Roma as a film could certainly bring Aparicio along for the ride with a nomination to her name, seeing how it’s the presumed frontrunner at the moment, and it’s nearly unheard of for presumed Best Picture winner to not have a single acting nominees. The critics have certainly helped, with a number of associations honouring her work.
Then, there’s Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade. In my opinion, the Academy has the proclivity to throw in a surprise child nominee every now and then (see: Quvenzhane Wallis, Keisha Castle Hughes), and Elsie Fisher is definitely deserving. Most child actors are bad enough to make you cringe — Fisher is so GOOD you cringe from her acting in Eighth Grade as the anxiety-ridden Kayla. The Globe nomination certainly helps. My heart tells me Elsie Fisher will take the final spot… but then my mind puts my thoughts firmly back in place.
Finally, Rosamund Pike and Nicole Kidman in A Private War and Destroyer respectively are somewhat more outside choices, with Globes nominations in hand.
1. Glenn Close, The Wife
2. Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite
4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
LAST SLOT (oh boy):
5. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
COULD EASILY BE:
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns OR A Quiet Place
Viola Davis, Widows
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (please?)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This is one of the less chaotic categories in a clearly surprise-filled year. Mahershala Ali will definitely be nominated, and probably win (which would mark a second win in three years, certainly an extreme rarity). Richard E. Grant and Adam Driver are close behind, and I think both could still win.
I considered for a moment that Timothee Chalamet could suffer a snub a la Daniel Bruhl for Rush, where he hits all the right precursors but ultimately misses because his performance and film don’t stand out particularly. Then I remembered that Hollywood is having a serious Timothee Chalamet moment right now, and I can’t really see voters snubbing him. As Grace from Beyond the Trailer bluntly puts it, everyone wants to have sex with him right now. That leaves, again, the final spot.
I think it could plausibly go to three people: Sam Eliott for A Star is Born, Sam Rockwell for Vice or a more outside choice, Michael B. Jordan for Black Panther. Rockwell and Eliott have essentially split the precursors: Eliot got the SAG and Critics Choice, Rockwell snagged Globes and BAFTA. Traditionally, I think this gives Eliott the edge (because of SAG), but afterglow nominations are real and Sam Rockwell won in a landslide last year. Not to mention, he plays a scene-stealing role which could really rack up votes. Yet Elliott has never been nominated in all his years of acting, and the overdue narrative likely found him many votes. It’s a really hard call. Then, there’s the possibility that Black Panther absolutely bulldozes the Oscars and pulls Michael B. Jordan, who was recognised by the Critics Choice, along for the ride.
1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book
VERY SAFE BET:
2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
3. Adam Driver, BlackKklansman
4. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
5. Sam Elliott, A Star is Born
MORE OR LESS A TOSS UP WITH:
Sam Rockwell, Vice
COULD TURN OUT TO BE:
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
If there was one category that absolutely went off the rails into crazy land this year it’s Supporting Actress. Case in point: The presumed frontrunner, Regina Hall, is also in danger of not getting nominated.
Regina King more or less dominated the entire season for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk, and deservedly so, for a truly heartfelt performance. She swept the critics associations. WON the Globes, Critics Choice. And then wasn’t even NOMINATED for the SAG and BAFTA. That’s a mind boggling precursor run if I’ve ever seen one. Honestly, I don’t even understand how such a scenario could occur. Perhaps the new SAG membership? But she wasn’t even NOMINATED. Just… what?
Next is Amy Adams for Vice, who’ll likely be her biggest competition at this point. If Adams wins the SAG and BAFTA, she’d probably have the edge over Hall in fact. Following Adams is the The Favourite duo, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Now that I think about it, either of them could win the SAG as well. I can definitely see Weisz winning the BAFTA. Assuming Adams wins the SAG and Weisz wins the BAFTA, we have essentially a three-way battle between Hall, Adams and Weisz where honestly, ANY of them could win.
That leaves the fifth, final slot.
Margot Robbie picked up tremendous steam for Mary Queen of Scots following a largely blank run, surprising everyone with a SAG and subsequently a BAFTA nod. I think this places her in a VERY good place, and it feels like the momentum is with her especially considering how SAG and BAFTA are announced later than most other major precursors.
But then there’s Claire Foy, First Man‘s only crowning jewel, it seems, in any of the major categories. She started the season as almost a frontrunner, raking in a Critics Choice and Globes nom, but then the SAG snub happened. BAFTA recognised her performance, but one has to wonder if it’s the British home-ground bias.
Beyond them, there’s Emily Blunt for A Quiet Place, who, as mentioned could be nominated here instead of for Mary Poppins Returns, though I see her surprise SAG nom as more of a Naomi Watts for St. Vincent or Sarah Silverman for I Smile Back type moment; a nod for a competent performance that still remains an outside Oscar possibility. Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased could certainly surprise. Nicole Kidman is having a very real comeback at the moment, and starting off this season I saw her as a surefire nominee either for Destroyer or Boy Erased. It’s still kind of hard to see the Oscars passing up, or at least not giving due attention to a meaty role by the actress.
I DON’T EVEN KNOW:
1. Regina Hall, If Beale Street Could Talk
VERY SAFE BET:
2. Amy Adams, Vice
3. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
4. Emma Stone, The Favourite
5. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots
MORE OR LESS A TOSS UP WITH:
Claire Foy, First Man
Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased
That wraps the acting categories! I might do one for the screenplay and tech categories, but probably not because I haven’t been following those closely. Oscar nominations are announced 22 January, and if I had one wish come nomination morning, it’ll undoubtedly be an Elsie Fisher nomination.