Well it is time to start your Oscar horses. Now that the Emmy Nominations have been announced, it is time to turn my focus to the Oscars, which was heated up in the last couple of weeks, after a dead-end start for the first half of the year.
Well, if it weren't for Cannes, there would be only two, maybe three contenders, so let's start with those. Toy Story three got a stunning 99% (should have been 100%) on Rotten Tomatoes, and at this point is the frontrunner for the Animated Feature race, and may, finally have a shot at the top prize. Two more recent releases are also making a stir. The first is The Kids Are All Right, which is getting huge Best Picture buzz, and has now put Annette Benning ahead of the pack for the Best Actress prize, and her performance from Mother and Child doesn't hurt. Finally, Winter's Bone, the harrowing movie starring newcomer and Best Actress contender Jennifer Lawrence, is getting a lot of buzz, hoping to become this year's Hurt Locker.
Also, there are the contenders coming out of Cannes. Mike Leigh's latest Another Year is getting huge buzz, as are some of its stars, and could put him in the Best Picture race. Another strong contender is Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, which apparently is Stone's best work in years, and has some really strong performances. Biutiful is also getting some buzz, for Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, and recent Oscar winner Javier Bardem. However, as will all festival contenders, especially Cannes, the response in France can be very different from the American reaction which may help Woody Allen's newest You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger which got pretty bad reviews in Cannes (as did Inglorious Basterds if you remember correctly), and may find its niche back home. Also coming out of Cannes was the well-received Blue Valentine, but that is more in the running for its two leads.
Also, watch out for this year's earliest contender Shutter Island, as the last three Dicaprio-Scorsese combos (The Departed, The Aviator, and Gangs of New York) scored Best Picture nods. Of course they had much better release dates, and better reviews.
Since most of the Best Picture nominees match with Best Director, which is now more likely to be true with ten nominees, some of the top contenders were from the top BP candidates mentioned above. Mike Leigh got in even for Vera Drake, so you know he is on the short list. Martin Scorsese is always in the running, although Shutter Island was by no means his best work. Oliver Stone is another contender, and if Wall Street 2 gets good reception, then he could ride the wave in. Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu got in for Babel, so his chances for getting in for Biutiful are good. After Kathryn Bigelow finally broke the barrier female power is now not a detractor for a nod, or even the win, so look out for Nicole Holofcener for Please Give, Debra Granik for Winter's Bone, and Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right. Finally, don't count out Woody Allen, like I said before, if the movie gets better reception in the US, he could get in again.
Leonardo Dicaprio deserves at least a nomination for his excellent performance in Shutter Island, but will most likely miss the cut because of the early release date. Ryan Gosling, however has a great shot for Blue Valentine, as he has gotten in before with his surprise nod for Half Nelson. As previously mentioned, Javier Bardem has a great shot coming out of Cannes, as he is apparently the best thing about Biutiful. Michael Douglas also makes this short list for his great turn in Solitary Man. This combined with his supporting turn in Wall Street 2 means he may get at least one nomination. Some other contenders include: Michael Caine in Harry Brown, Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2, Ben Stiller in Greenburg, and Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer.
Annette Benning has two contenders this year, but her Kids Are All Right role seems to be her golden ticket. Jennifer Lawrence got rave reviews for Winter's Bone and could be this year's Gabby Sidibe. Leslie Manville finally got promoted to lead in a Mike Leigh movie and could have an Imelda Staunton kind of year. Two younger, and former nominees Naomi Watts for Fair Game and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine are getting huge buzz. These are just five contenders, but all of them have a shot at lasting through the year's derby race.
Best Supporting Actor
There are a lot of potential contenders, but I think that there are very few that have a shot of sticking through the year. Mark Ruffalo has great potential and could ride the Kids Are All Right wave. Former winners Michael Douglas and Jim Broadbent for Wall Street 2 and Another Year have a great shot at returning, but were waiting on a wider array of reviews. Finally, the many Inception potentials need to be sorted out as Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gorden-Levitt, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy. and Ken Watanabe all could be potential awards threats.
Best Supporting Actress
Once again there are alot of contenders, but few have any shot at sticking around. Vanessa Redgrave had to be in a not so good movie, but she apparently was phenomenal, and her name alone could get her recognition. Ruth Sheen was fanatstic in Another Year, but may suffer from lack of name recognition. Finally, the Inception girls, like the guys, need to be sorted out. Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard are potential contenders, but one may go lead, the other supporting, or both supporting leaving confusion for all of us trying to blog. Finally, I would like to put a note out on Kerry Washington's performance in Mother and Child, as one of the best of the year, and including her Ray performance, this will most likely be her second Oscar snub.