Blog | Oscar Talk - December 24th, 2017
Oscar Talk - December 24th, 2017
December 24, 2017
By: Movie Critic Dave
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Since our last break down of the major Oscar races on December 7th, both Golden Globe and SAG award nominations have been handed out and it helped paint a clearer picture of the road to the Academy Awards. I still haven't seen a trio of films with major Oscar potential, namely The PostCall Me by Your Name and Phantom Thread, but I was able to catch a few other films that have helped shore up the awards season landscape. Here we go:

Best Picture

Safe Bets: While I'm still of the belief that Steven Spielberg's The Post will benefit as Hollywood's response to the current political landscape, a new film has emerged in the "Safe Bets" column. Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, the most well-reviewed movie of the year should also find itself as a finalist alongside Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water

Other Potential Nominees: The next tier of films include Dunkirk and Call Me by Your Name, both of which check off a lot of necessary boxes to help them make the cut. As we push closer to the announcement of Oscar Nominations, which are less than a month away, Sean Baker's The Florida Project keeps appearing on critics' end-of-the year lists. Perhaps the small budget indie will have what it takes to land a nod.

Dark Horse Contenders: Kumail Nanjiani's The Big Sick raised its stock with a SAG Best Ensemble Nomination, but being an early release can prove challenging. One or both of Mudbound and Get Out have a chance of sneaking in, especially following strong reception from SAG, while Darkest Hour keeps losing momentum ever since its festival debut. Phantom Thread has found immense praises from Paul Thomas Anderson devotees who have seen the film, and it could be a huge player a month from now, but I, Tonya is up against some difficult odds coming from a film company that's inexperienced in the awards season game.

Best Director

Safe Bets: From what I've seen nothing tops Guillermo del Toro's sharp direction for The Shape of Water. His work is undeniably good and should land him a nomination alongside the great veteran of filmmaking Steven Spielberg (The Post). Beyond those two things get a little murky but I'm starting to believe that Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards) will definitely find a place in the final five.

Other Potential Nominees: Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig was snubbed by the Golden Globes, but her film is still in the hearts of many and that could be enough to muscle her into the mix. Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk) has a long history of being overlooked by the Academy, yet many feel that this is the year he gets his justice. While the quintet listed above would make for a fine group of Best Director finalists, Dee Rees (Mudbound) could still play the spoiler if the Oscars decided to nominate the first African American female in this category ever.

Dark Horse Contenders: Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) and Sean Baker (The Florida Project) helm a pair of beloved titles, but lack the clout of the names above. Instead, perhaps a more notable dark horse such as Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) or Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) will sneak their way into the big dance.

Best Actor

Safe Bets: It's difficult to imagine a final Best Actor race without Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) or Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), a pair of veteran powerhouses who everyone believes will duke it out for the statue. However, Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) has surprisingly elevated his position in the category with nominations from both SAG and the Hollywood Foreign Press, despite the lack of fanfare for his film.

Other Potential Nominees: I anticipate that hope is still very much alive for Spielberg's The Post, even after being shut out by SAG (which sometimes happens for very late releases), so Tom Hanks should still get a nod. However, space is quickly becoming limited with strong fringe-players in James Franco (The Disaster Artist) and the youngster Timothee Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name). Five of the six actors mentioned above should get in, and I'm leaning towards Franco as the one who misses out.

Dark Horse Contenders: It's been a fantastic ride for Get Out's leading star, Daniel Kaluuya, who scored nominations from both the Golden Globes and SAG, but it's just not the type of film that gets recognized by the Academy. Jake Gyllenhaal's (Stronger) Oscar hopes appear to be fading, especially considering his numerous career snubs from the Academy, but I still believe he delivers a worthy performance.

Best Actress

Safe Bets: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) is absolutely masterful and I firmly believe the Oscar field is set in this category with all of Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post) and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards) closing out five nominations. I also believe that the winner is up-for-grabs and this should be one of the more exciting races to watch down the stretch.

Other Potential Nominees: Judi Dench replaced Streep in the SAG Nominations for her work in Victoria and Abdul, but I don't think her run has staying power. Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game) is always a threat and last year's Academy Award Winner, Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes), could be a shocking spoiler as well.

Dark Horse Contenders: Any other Best Actress competitor feels like the longest of shots but it's at least worth mentioning Michelle Williams strong work in All the Money in the World. I wouldn't bet on it, but rumblings have also been heard regarding Vicky Krieps performance in Phantom Thread.

Best Supporting Actor

Safe Bets: This race should come down to Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) and my personal favorite, Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards). I also feel confident that Richard Jenkins will score a nod for his deserving turn in The Shape of Water, although I don't necessarily see him as a threat to win it all.

Other Potential Nominees: That leaves two nominations up for grabs with an endless list of possibilities. The next tier of supporting actors would most likely include Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards), who will struggle to capture votes thanks to a more prominent co-star, Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes), Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name) and Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World).

Dark Horse Contenders: While the bottom half of this category remains wide-open, it wouldn't be too crazy to see and of Jason Mitchell (Mudbound), Mark Rylance (Dunkirk), Bryan Cranston (Last Flag Flying) or Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me by Your Name) sneak in as well.

Best Supporting Actress

Safe Bets: This happens to be a two-horse race as well, with either Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird) or Allison Janney (I, Tonya) primed to capture a first Oscar statue. Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) also solidified her stature with recent nods from both SAG and the Golden Globes. 

Other Potential Nominees: Like Blige, Downsizing's Hong Chau earned nominations from both voting bodies as well, but her entry into the final five feels a little less secure. Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water) and Holly Hunter (The Big Sick) are both serious threats to capture a spot or two.

Dark Horse Contenders: Early work is Phantom Thread's Lesley Manville has the ability to play spoiler, as does Oscar Winner Melissa Leo (Novitiate). And finally, the Academy Awards don't usually reward comedies or their performers, but if the tides change this year than Tiffany Haddish (Girl's Trip) could very well steal a nomination.