The Oscar Warrior: Nominations Recap and Analysis


This has been an exciting week in the long journey to the Academy Awards with the nominations for the Broadcast Film Critics Associations’ (BFCA) Critics Choice Awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) being announced in the wake of a number of critics’ groups own awards. While the Best Picture race is certainly getting more interesting with every pertinent movie already being screened and in the mix, we’ll mainly look at the acting races because we now have all three final precursors before the Oscar nominations are announced on January 10. (And don’t worry, we still plan on sharing our actual predictions.)

Before we get to the acting categories, we’ll quickly look at how the Best Picture race may have been affected by some of the nominations. As we mentioned earlier, there are potentially anywhere between 5 and 10 Best Picture nominees, and so far, many of the groups that have already announced their Top 10 have at least 7 or 8 that coincide. The Critics Choice nominations are a strange precursor because they do have ten choices for Best Picture and six in each of the acting races.

The most important early precursor though is SAG’s Ensemble Cast nominations with the guild picking Ben Affleck’s Argo (Warner Bros.), the musical Les Misérables (Universal), Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (DreamWorks), David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.) and the surprise entry, the ensemble comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight).

The casts noticeably missing were those of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty (Sony) and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company), which could still get into the Oscar Best Picture nominations–they were screened later than some of the others and didn’t have DVD screeners–although only one movie in recent memory won Best Picture without a SAG Ensemble nomination, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, which isn’t bad company to keep. Meanwhile, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel also got support from the Golden Globes with a Best Picture – Comedy/Musical nomination and Maggie Smith was nominated by SAG in the Supporting Actress category, although we don’t think it will have quite a fanbase within the Academy.

As far as the Lead Actor race, Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), John Hawkes (The Sessions), Denzel Washington (Flight) and Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) are sitting pretty with nominations by all three groups, while Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) seem to be fighting it out for the fifth slot, both having received Critics Choice and Golden Globes nods but only Cooper being nominated by SAG. Anthony Hopkins not even receiving a Golden Globe nomination isn’t a good sign for his chances as Hitchcock that’s for sure and some other nominations like Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor and Bill Murray are just filling up the appropriate categories for the Golden Globes.

Lead Actress may not be as contested a race at least for nominations with Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Naomi Watts (The Impossible and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) all being nominated by all three groups, leaving one slot open. Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) received nominations from SAG and the Golden Globes (even though they omitted Hopkins) but the BFCA were the only one to nominate Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) and Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) although the fact neither actress is as famous as the others may have hurt their chances with the notoriously starpower-driven members of those groups.

Possibly the oddest last minute entry into the Oscar race has to be Nicole Kidman for her supporting role in Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, a movie that received very few critical raves. Could her SAG support show a solidarity among actors against critics who don’t understand what constitutes a good performance? The rest of the Supporting Actress race seems to fairly consistent with Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions) and Sally Field (Lincoln) each receiving nominations with two or three other actresses being mentioned. Three-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams is going for the quad with her performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (The Weinstein Company). Veterans like Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Dame Judi Dench (Skyfall) were also mentioned and we could see the older members of the Academy wanting to honor one of them with another nomination, probably the latter.

Matthew McConaughey got some early support from the New York Film Critics’ Circle for his role in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (Warner Bros.), and the Broadcast Film Critics agreed with a nomination, but neither SAG nor HFPA seem to agree.

Three actors–Alan Arkin (Argo), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) and Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)–were nominated by the three main groups in the Supporting actor category with Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) and Javier Bardem (Skyfall) receiving both BFCA and SAG nominations. The Golden Globes instead went for Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz for Tarantino’s Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company), although they generally showed more support for the Western with nominations in the Director, Screenplay and Best Motion Picture – Drama categories. There’s a chance the other groups just didn’t have enough of a chance to see the movie.

Incidentally, the Golden Globes leaving out Tom Hooper in their directing category (unlike BFCA) doesn’t help Les Mis‘ chances in the Musical/Comedy category, although its heaviest competition Silver Linings Playbook also didn’t get a directing nod for its director. This could point to a Golden Globes upset in the Comedy/Musical category despite having both a strong comedy and a strong musical in the mix. (The fact that the Golden Globes ignored Seth McFarlane’s Ted in favor of Salmon Fishing in Yemen shows how out of touch they are.)

Meanwhile, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight) got support from the BFCA as one of their Best Picture nominees but nothing from the other two groups, which tend to be more reflective of the industry, but we do think the movie may have a pocket of fans within the Academy that might give it an advantage over something like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features). That got a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice nomination though, which does give it a slight leg up although these two movies are definitely fighting for a Best Picture nomination.

That’s all for now, but we have a couple other things to talk about in the coming weeks before year’s end, including our promised Oscar picks. Let us know if you think any of this past week’s nominations will have any effect on anything or if it’s just more individual opinions that have nothing to do with the Oscars.