The Oscar Warrior: An Update on the Acting Races

Just two days ago, we wrote an update on the Oscar race, but with the nominations by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Golden Globe nominations announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA), we have the clearest picture we’re going to get on the acting races until the Oscar nominations are actually announced in January.

SAG and the HFPA had four actresses in common, the latter group in their dramatic category, which gives a lot of backing to the predicted Oscar nominations going to Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep and Tilda Swinton. The fourth Golden Globe nominee in the dramatic category was Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but SAG went with Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn, who was nominated in the Golden Globes musical/comedy category.

Normally, the Golden Globes comedy/musical categories don’t need a lot attention paid to them, since there’s less of a chance of those nominated actors/actresses being picked over the dramatic performance, but this year, we’ve seen four strong movies that fall into the category, including The Artist, My Week with Marilyn, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Bridesmaids. As far as the actresses, Williams ended up in that category, as did Charlize Theron for Jason Reitman’s Young Adult, although only Williams received a SAG nomination.

On the other hand, both of Roman Polanski’s starlets from the dark comedy Carnage, Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster, were nominated by HFPA, though they’re not as likely to be taken seriously as Oscar contenders even if both have won Oscars in the past. In fact, there’s a very good chance that Kristen Wiig will end up winning this category for Bridesmaids, the one true comedy in the category.

Geting into the actors, the HFPA went with George Clooney (The Descendants), Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Ryan Gosling (for The Ides of March rather than Drive) and Brad Pitt for Moneyball. SAG picked Clooney, DiCaprio and Pitt, but snubbed Fassbender, and then picked Jean Dujardin, the star of The Artist, and Demian Bichir, the terrific Mexican actor from Chris Weitz’s A Better Life. Dujardin ended up in the Golden Globes Comedy/Musical category, and he’s the most likely to get through to the Oscars for for The Artist as well as winning the Golden globe, beating out Brendan Gleeson (The Guard), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50), Ryan Gosling (for Crazy, Stupid, Love.) and Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris). That said, every year this has been the surprise spoiler category where someone unexpected wins like Colin Farrell, Robert Downey Jr. and Paul Giamatti, none of whom went on to receive an Oscar nomination, so Dujardin may prefer someone like Gordon-Levitt or Wilson to win the category. Fassbender was a surprise snub by SAG, but that doesn’t rule him out to win over Oscar voters, who are somewhat more discerning.

An even bigger surprise may have been the Golden Globes snubbing Melissa McCarthy for her hilarious performance in Bridesmaids, despite showing strong support for the movie overall. This was also in the same week McCarthy received a number of critics awards and nominations from SAG and the BFCA. Otherwise, both SAG and the HFPA went the same four actresses: Berenice Bejo from The Artist, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer, both from The Help, and Janet McTeer from Albert Nobbs (ignored by BFCA). Shailene Woodley, Clooney’s young co-star from The Descendants didn’t get a SAG nomination, but they’re also not as apt to pick someone so young. One would think that the fifth slot at the Oscars might be McCarthy vs. Woodley, but with Wiig not likely to get a Best Actress nomination, McCarthy may be the best way to honor the comedy. That puts Chastain in a weaker position because her votes may be split between The Help and The Tree of Life. Bejo and Spencer seem to be the safest nominations.

The biggest snub in the supporting actress category? Vanessa Redgrave, who was thought of as an early contender for her performance in Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus. Unfortunately, Redgrave is probably out of the race, not as if she needs another Oscar nomination.

An even bigger shocker was SAG completely ignoring Albert Brooks’ performance in Drive, just like they did with his previous Oscar-nominated performance in Broadcast News roughly 23 years earlier. Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn), Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Jonah Hill (Moneyball) received a nomination both from SAG and the HFPA, which gives them a strong edge leading to Oscar nominations. SAG’s decision to nominate Armie Hammer for J. Edgar, a performance that was heavily criticized by critics was surprising and Viggo Mortensen got a GG nomination for A Dangerous Method, but we do think Albert Brooks will get the Oscar nod, and Nick Nolte (nominated for Warrior) has a good chance at being honored by the Academy as well. The odd man out is Max von Sydow, who many felt might get nominated for Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which hadn’t been screened very much, but the fact that the Academy will have more opportunities to see it could mean he’s not ruled out just yet.

Sometime tomorrow, we’ll look at how the SAG and Golden Globe nominations may have changed the Oscar Best Picture race, if at all.


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