Oscar Update: Predictions Have been Updated as ‘Young Adult’ and ‘War Horse’ Buzz Begins

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Jeremy Irvine in War Horse
Photo: Dreamworks Pictures

Last night saw the first public word-of-mouth screenings for Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse as Dreamworks is attempting to create awareness in states other than New York and Los Angeles although other film bloggers will lead you to believe the studio is purposely avoiding the two film-centric states where awareness of the film is already assuredly high.

The Film Stage collected a series of Twitter reactions from people who attended the screenings and by my count they are largely positive with the two negative reactions both declaring it “Oscar bait.” Of course, I don’t know who any of these people are so it’s impossible to gauge any real opinion of the film, though based on this small set of opinions it would seem the public is liking what they see.

Additionally, a screening of Young Adult took place at West Hollywood’s New Beverly Cinema last night followed by a Q&A session with director Jason Reitman, screenwriter Diablo Cody and stars Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Reaser and a selection of reactions to the film have given it a bump in the charts.

First off, Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere comments on the film saying:

(a) it’s very ballsy, very well written, very uncompromising, very brazen — a leap forward for Reitman and Cody both; (b) it’s darkly funny during the first two-thirds to 75%, and sometimes hilarious; (c) it’s a kind of Jason Voorhees horror film about a raging blind woman, about egotism and myopia and the absolute mania of the self; (d) as I thought about it during the after-party I began to realize it’s more than just a character study or a black comedy, but a cautionary tale about a kind of egoistic Kardashian-like malignancy afoot in the culture right now; (e) Jack Nicholson’s Bobby Dupea character in Five Easy Pieces bears a certain resemblance to Charlize’s Mavis Gary; ditto Isabelle Adjani’s Adele Hugo in Francois Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H.

Wells also added, “Patton Oswalt, portraying a blunt-spoken, half-crippled fat guy who befriends Charlize Theron‘s neurotic writer character, is now a Best Supporting Actor contender…definitely.

Kris Tapley over at HitFix agrees, though he does seem to believe Oswalt needs to play the Oscar game adding, “[If] he really puts in the work, he can easily find himself in that mix. He’s so lovable on the mic and will no doubt bring the house down in Q&A after Q&A as he did last night.”

Charlize Theron in Young AdultTapley also commented on Theron’s performance saying, “Charlize Theron gives a stellar, bitchy, biting, layered, at times moving performance. Oswalt commented… he thinks this will be, more than Monster, the performance people will think of when they see her from here on out.

Oswalt’s comments mimic those made by ESPN sports analyst and Grantland columnist Bill Simmons who previously said of Theron’s performance, “Monster shoudn’t be [Theron’s] defining movie…she gained 35 pounds and made herself ugly [for that], and she’s beautiful. She’s never had a really good movie that she was really good in in which she was also beautiful.”

Finally, David Poland tweeted last night, “Young Adult is Reitman and Cody’s best work. A 70s comic drama. Theron finally gets to kill it and be beautiful. Patton Oswalt could be a shock nom.”

Seems unanimous, but where does that leave us in terms of predictions?

When it comes to War Horse, I have it in second in my Best Picture predictions at the moment so there it isn’t very far for it to go, and I don’t think today’s news is nearly enough to move it into #1. I did, however, add Jeremy Irvine to my Best Actor predictions, because 1) I don’t think there’s any reason to count him out and 2) he just landed a role playing a young Colin Firth in The Railway Man, which means people are either seeing talent or just trying to ride a bit of buzz as the actor comes off a debut leading role in a Steven Spielberg film. Either way, he’s among the contenders.

When it comes to Young Adult, however, there is definite movement in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor categories.

Patton Oswalt in Young AdultTo begin, with Oswalt it’s easy. He wasn’t even on my Best Supporting Actor predictions list, but now he is, debuting in the #5 spot in a race that’s truly too close to call at the moment. You can browse my full Best Supporting Actor chart here where you’ll also see I’ve added Tom Hardy for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Over the last two nights I’ve been watching the original 1979 BBC adaptation of the John le Carre novel and Hywel Bennett‘s performance as Ricki Tarr made me immediately think of Hardy to the point I didn’t even need to look up and see which role Hardy was playing. If Hardy can tap into and elevate that performance I’ll be interested to see if he can finally garner some awards attention.

As for Theron, I previously had her ranked in the #8 slot and it’s not as easy to move her into the nomination field of five, though even at #8 she was in the thick of things as this is one field impossible to figure out.

The Best Actress category has ten solid contenders and of the bunch the only name I’m confident in saying will get an Oscar nomination is Viola Davis for The Help. If I was to place a bet, my second choice would be Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene and that’s it. I have no guaranteed third nominee as no one has seen Meryl Streep‘s performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and I’m not confident Glenn Close‘s performance in Albert Nobbs is going to garner her a nomination. Rounding out my previous top five was Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn.

The other five ladies, making for a total of ten solid contenders, I have Theron along with Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method), though I am growing increasingly confident Knightley may be campaigning as a Supporting Actress. However, considering Sony Classics messed up Lesley Manville’s chances last year for Another Year by placing her in the wrong category, can they make it two in a row?

All that said, Theron moves into third position on my list, as my confidence in Michelle Williams waned in the last 48 hours. Call it a gut reaction and an overall scanning of the list, but among the ten names I mentioned above, Williams’ is the least daring by a mile.

To check out the current Best Actress standings you can click here and browse my full list of current predictions here.

And finally, with all of the pop-up screenings of Young Adult, Paramount has commissioned artists to create exclusive poster art for each screening. Below is a gallery of thumbnails from each screening so far, just click on one to browse them all and stay tuned as the Oscar race continues to heat up.