Yesterday we looked over the nominees for various technical categories – editing, directing, writing, and cinematography. Today we move into the realm of the actors and actresses. As per usual, there are some baffling omissions and nominations. With only minor exceptions, it would seem that most of these races are basically figured out. Of course, we say that now running the risk that we might have to eat crow come Monday morning.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Boyhood: Patricia Arquette
Wild: Laura Dern
The Imitation Game: Keira Knightley
Birdman: Emma Stone
Into the Woods: Meryl Streep
Who should win? This one is a no-brainer: Patricia Arquette. As a matter of fact, she belongs in the running for Best Actress, not just supporting. For one reason or another, the powers that be deemed her a supporting player, though it could just as easily be her film. Arquette was the glue that held the film together. Her moment of sadness towards the end of the film, when Mason is leaving for college, should be the scene which captured her the award. It’s heartbreaking, honest, and believable.
Who will win? If Arquette doesn’t walk away with the statue it would be the final indicator that there is, in fact, no justice in this world. It certainly wouldn’t be too shocking to see Meryl Streep walk away with another award just for being Streep, though I believe that’s the sole reason she was nominated this year. But as good as Laura Dern and Emma Stone are in their respective roles, there’s no real competition to derail the Arquette train. This is what happens when Tilda Swinton isn’t nominated.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
The Judge: Robert Duvall
Boyhood: Ethan Hawke
Birdman: Edward Norton
Foxcatcher: Mark Ruffalo
Whiplash: J.K. Simmons
Who should win? With the exception of Robert Duvall, who is obviously nominated based upon reputation, this category is jam packed with performances worthy of the award. That being said, it’s J.K. Simmons award to lose. The venerable character actor gives the performance of his career – a career filled with great performances – as the tyrannical music instructor in Whiplash.
Who will win? It’s safe to say that Simmons likely has this one in the bag and rightfully so. However, if one of these other actors were to upset Simmons, I’d prefer to see Ethan Hawke take home the statue. Though a case could be made for either Mark Ruffalo or Edward Norton.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Two Days, One Night: Marion Cotillard
The Theory of Everything: Felicity Jones
Gone Girl: Rosamund Pike
Still Alice: Julianne Moore
Wild: Reese Witherspoon
Who should win? Out of all the performances nominated for Best Actress my choice is for Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl. Her performance is what drives the film as Pike gives a number of performances in creating the scheming and duplicitous Amy.
Who will win? With her 5th nomination, Julianne Moore seems poised to finally bring home the Oscar. I don’t think it’s her best performance, but we all know how the Academy loves to honor actors honing in on some kind of handicap, be they physical or mental. Since Moore has already taken home the Golden Globe, the safe money is on her to win the big one. Though I wouldn’t be too surprised if Felicity Jones happened to sneak away with the statue herself. Again, this is what happens when Tilda Swinton isn’t nominated.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Foxcatcher: Steve Carell
The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch
American Sniper: Bradley Cooper
Birdman: Michael Keaton
The Theory of Everything: Eddie Redmayne
Who should win? It’s hard for me to say who should win considering all of my favorite leading performances from 2014 weren’t nominated – Brendan Gleeson in Calvary, Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood, David Oyelowo in Selma, and Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. Of all the nominees, the only one I would’ve nominated would be Michael Keaton, who is all but assured to walk away with the honors.
Who will win? I’m confident that Michael Keaton will take home the award, but it’s not guaranteed. Eddie Redmayne has a legitimate shot because, as stated earlier, the Academy loves performances that exploit a physical or mental handicap. Steve Carell was very good in Foxcatcher, however, he’s much more a supporting role than a lead and a prosthetic nose isn’t the same kind of physical handicap that the voters just love. Benedict Cumberbatch and Bradley Cooper both provide good performances in bad movies, but I can’t see either going over the top to claim the award from Keaton’s grasp.
That’s it for the actors and actresses. Check back tomorrow when we go over all the Best Picture nominees, rank them, and predict which one will take home the highest honors.