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by Pete Wassell

IAFT/Los Angeles


Having seen a great many films this year, and having liked a great many of them, I find it hard to nail down just who I think will be nominated.  James Franco for Spring Breakers?  Would love to see it.  Olivia Wilde for Drinking Buddies?  Probably not, but only because Drinking Buddies wasn’t hugely popular.  Having given away my pick for two of the best films of the year, without further ado I present…an objective realization of the Oscar race.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
  • Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
  • Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
  • Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • James Franco – Spring Breakers

I look at that list and I think, “No Tom Hanks?” That’s right.  Listen, Hanks could very easily be nominated.  I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t tell you whether his performance is good or not.  I have read a bunch of reviews, though, and some friends have seen it; the consensus seems to be Saving Mr. Banks gives us a watered down version of Uncle Walt, and while the Academy loves to nominate Tom Hanks and we all know they love to nominate actors playing famous Hollywood moguls, I can’t see Hanks getting it for this one.  The movie had to do better at the box office.  Plus he is most likely being nominated in the lead category for Captain Phillips.

Bradley Cooper was solid, as always, in American Hustle.  Though he overdoes it in a few scenes, I blame that more on David O. Russell as I think he intentionally asks his actors to go overboard and then generally uses those takes to add a bit of absurdity to undercut many scenes in his films.

The Academy loves Jonah Hill.  He may be a dark horse now, but I definitely see him being nominated for the Wolf of Wall Street.  Did you see This is the End?  Everyone loves that guy.  However, my darkest of horses is James Franco for Spring Breakers.  Now, I know that Breakers is one of those films that is fashionable for people who like to throw absurd movies around, touting them as high art, and telling us that the only reason it isn’t regarded as such by the masses is because you Just. Don’t. Get it.  Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m probably one of those people.  Spring Breakers is great, and James Franco is great in it, and to see him nominated would put a huge smile on my face.  His turn as Alien, the drug-dealing, dope-smoking, gluttonous gangsta from South Beach is pure genius.

Best Actor:

  • Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
  • Bruce Dern – Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

I gotta say this is a pretty stout year for actors.  Here are some names I left off that list: Robert Redford for All is Lost, Joaquin Phoenix for Her, Christian Bale for American Hustle, Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, Forest Whitaker for The Butler.  That’s a who’s who of the great actors of our time and any time.

Redford could easily be nominated.  Who doesn’t love Redford?  And we all know the Academy loves to give nominations to actors who act by themselves for the majority of the movie.  I want Redford to be nominated, and I’d love to see him win.  He’s a great actor who never got the respect he deserves because he was too good looking.  He’s a legend.

This is also the year of McConaughey.  I doubt if you can find a bigger fan of Matthew McConaughey than me.  Freshman year in college we spent the majority of our days drinking beer and watching Dazed and Confused.  The man could run through the streets naked playing bongos and I would still worship him for giving us Wooderson.

I haven’t seen Dallas Buyers Club, so I can’t rank his performance for you, but McConaughey is going through an amazing renaissance as of late.  He is making smaller films with smaller budgets and a lot of meat for an actor to chew on.  He’s taking risks and they’re paying off.  Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, Magic Mike, Killer Joe, Bernie.  Those are risky, low budget films and he is diving into them with what seems to be true passion and commitment.  I would love to see him win.

I thought Leonardo DiCaprio’s best chance to win was for the Aviator, but he ran into Jamie Foxx playing Ray Charles who had just passed away.  Sorry Leo, you didn’t win that bout, man, but you should have!  The Wolf of Wall Street has gotten itself caught up in some controversy, which may affect its nominations, but right now I don’t know whether it will have a positive or negative effect.  Sometimes Hollywood wants to distance itself from controversy, oftentimes it embraces it, in what feels like an attempt to remind people that they are artists and are trying to make big important statements.

To me the controversy has sort of been manufactured.  The biggest problem to me is that DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese continue to call the film a “cautionary” tale which it absolutely is not.  The Wolf of Wall Street is a party movie about a party guy living his high dollar party life and having a great time doing it.  Yeah, there are moments of extreme stress, addiction, and depravity, but the whole film is seen from the point of view of DiCaprio, who seems to be having a great time on the ride.  I think Leo will be nominated—but I don’t see him winning.

Bruce Dern is my pick to click for sure.  A stout filmography coupled with this being his first Best Actor Oscar nomination and his being 77 years old tells me he wins that Oscar.  And I would be totally fine with that.  Nebraska is great.  He may not be my favorite part of it, but he is very good and does add to the film.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is getting nominated for sure.  12 Years a Slave is going to be nominated for everything.



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