Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Patricia Arquette "Boyhood"
Emily Blunt "Into the Woods"
Laura Dern "Wild"
Keira Knightley "The Imitation Game"
Emma Stone "Birdman"
Other Contenders - Anna Kendrick "Into the Woods", Carmen Ejogo "Selma", Carrie Coon "Gone Girl", Vanessa Redgrave "Foxcatcher", Viola Davis "Get On Up", Katherine Waterston "Inherent Vice", Naomi Watts "St. Vincent", Jessica Chastain "Interstellar", Octavia Spencer "Get on Up", Rene Russo "Nightcrawler", Kelly Reilly "Cavalry", Oprah Winfrey "Selma", Imelda Staunton "Pride", Melissa McCarthy "St. Vincent", Kristen Stewart "Still Alice", Dorothy Atkinson "Mr. Turner', Jessica Lange "The Gambler", Cameron Diaz "Annie", Reese Witherspoon "Inherent Vice", Robin Wright "A Most Wanted Man", Marisa Tomei "Love is Strange", Krysten Ritter "Big Eyes", Naomi Watts "Birdman", Sienna Miller "American Sniper"
Commentary - This race has changed dramatically in several months, as new contenders have emerged. For example, the Venice/Telluride/Toronto festivals produced several new front runners. Birdman is getting a lot of praise from festival goers and critics. A lot of the praise is about Michael Keaton. But its two supporting players are also getting a lot of attention for holding their own. Emma Stone has been flirting with Oscar for awhile (and honestly, while most people would probably disagree, I think she should have been nominated for her magnetic performance in Easy A), and I think that she could finally get that overdue nomination. She apparently holds her own against veterans Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, and has some "Oscar"scenes that could definitely help her cause. Laura Dern has quickly emerged from the pack, as the deceased mother of Reese Witherspoon's Wild. I didn't include her initially because I didn't know if she would have enough screen time, but you rarely find a review of Wild that doesn't mention her, alongside her co-star Reese Witherspoon. I personally thought the initial reviews of The Imitation Game were soft, but by the end of the fall festival circuit, it had emerged as one of the top Oscar contenders. Along with the buzz for the film, came a surprising amount of support for Keira Knightley. I had forgot she was even in the film from those initial reviews, but suddenly she is receiving an abundance of support. I guess if the film as a whole is a hit, then its coattails should extend to one of the most popular actresses working today and a previous nominee. I think she is a space filler right now depending on how the season goes. I am still a bit skeptical about the chances of Boyhood. I think its Oscar fate rests in the hands of the upcoming unseen contenders. If they falter, there may be a place for it. But if they don't, I think it could end up with just a few conciliatory nominations. That being said, I am so thrilled to see the continued buzz and support for Patrica Arquette. She continues to have heat behind her campaign, and if she can sustain it, I think she could be one of those nominations, no matter what happens with Best Picture. So what about the rest of them? Word is that newcomers Carrie Coon, Carmen Ejogo, and Katherine Waterston could all be breakouts in Gone Girl, Selma, and Inherent Vice. Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy turned heads at Toronto with St. Vincent (and Birdman for Watts), and could garner some votes, considering both are previous nominees. Jessica Chastain has so many roles this year, and her nomination could come from Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer could make a comeback for Get On Up. Ingenues Krysten Ritter, Sieena Miller, Kristen Stewart, and Kelly Reilly could join veterans Oprah, Rene Russo, Marisa Tomei, Dorothy Atkinson, Jessica Lange, Vanessa Redgrave, Imelda Staunton, Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, and Robin Wright. But I think that Rob Marshall's Into the Woods may produce the final nominee. Emily Blunt's character in the play is more of a lead, but I think they will push Meryl Streep there, and then push Blunt and Anna Kendrick in supporting. In terms of screen time, it looks like Blunt could be the beneficiary, and receive her first Oscar nomination.