Friday, January 10, 2014

Scott Predicts Best Lead Actor Oscar Nominations

Scott continues his predictions for Oscar nominations by looking at the Lead Actor category.  In case you missed his previous, you should really check his analysis of Lead Actress and Best Picture.

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Today’s Predictions – Lead Actors

In another closely contested category, we have a number of sturdy veterans making their case for themselves for Lead Actor nods. There is very little room here for outside contenders and surprise upsets, as even if the list included ten nominations it would still be tight.

Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club – This year seemed to be the year of McConaughey, as he had a brilliant performance as the southern romantic on the run in Mud and followed it up with his role in Dallas Buyers Club. There has been a great deal of chatter around his chances for a victory in this category, and I could find no way to leave him off this list. Liza Minelli joked with him recently that if he does not win he she will give him her Oscar, but it seems there is a good chance that will not be needed.

Bruce Dern – Nebraska – A few months ago I heard Dern’s name come up in the Oscar conversation a lot due to his performance in Nebraska, but also because of the narrative of his life and career. Having a personal backstory can help out a lot, as he has only ever gained one nomination and that was for Coming Home back in 1978. A lot of the talk around Dern right now is based on his campaigning for an Oscar and based on an article I read from inside a Hollywood function, it seems to be working and catching the attention of Academy members.

Robert Redford – All is Lost – If I were to write this piece two days ago, I probably would not have had Redford listed here. However, after finding out how successful his campaigning has been (from the same article mentioned in the write up above) I found myself swaying to include him. He has been around for a while and knows how the game is played. As well, All is Lost is a movie that consists only of Redford and has next to no lines at all. Unfortunately for me, I have yet to see it, but the word is that his performance is what propels the movie of trouble on the high seas along as the sailboat he is manning runs into disaster.

Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips – Speaking of disaster on the high seas, it would be impossible not to mention Hanks in his return to form in Captain Phillips. The last few years have been softer for Hanks who has had movies like Cloud Atlas and Larry Crowne fall short of expectations. If anyone had thought Hanks was well past his form of old, they must now eat his words after the magic he brought opposite newcomer Barkhad Abdi (who I will be talking more about in two days) in the Paul Greengrass directed movie.  Watching the film in theatres was a joy, and it was in the last few minutes of the film where Hanks left the entire emotional imprint of the movie on the screen. He has had a legendary career, and Captain Phillips reminds us of why.

Chiwetol Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave – 12 Years a Slave is the juggernaut this Oscar season, and leading the charge is Ejiofor who plays the lead character, Solomon Northup. In a very dramatic, emotional, and socially important movie, it would be impossible to leave its principle character from this list. Ejiofor has never been nominated for an Oscar, but has always been consistently great in his roles. He competently led the gigantic cast and hit all of the marks he needed to in the movie. He is strong competition to McConaughey in this category.

If we look to some of the other names in contention, it becomes very clear the competitive nature of this category this year. Left off of the list, but all able to make viable claims for the nominations are Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniel’s The Butler), Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), and Christian Bale (American Hustle). There are also a number of other interesting performances that could be swinging in there, such as Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight) and Steve Coogan (Philomena).

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