Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Top 10 Picks for Oscar Nomination Long Shots

Chris Rock
Ladies and gentlemen, we are only a few days away from learning who will be on this year's Oscar nominations list. It's an exciting time, notably because the season has been very unpredictable this year. With major upsets shown in the past, Spotlight isn't as safe of a front runner as one would've initially expected. While I do intend to share my overall predictions for the major categories, I present you today with my long shots. The following is 10 nominations that I really want to happen, but will likely not for whatever reason. It's my own hypothetical hope for The Oscars, and more my desire to see the better film make the cut. Check them out, and leave your own long shots below. Then come back in a few days and see just how unlikely these options were.

1. The Revenant missing from major categories

I am doing my best not to spiral into a Silver Linings Playbook-level rage and just badmouth the film ad nauseum again (be glad you weren't there to witness my annoyance in 2012). However, there's a certain amount of prodding that seems to be happening when The Revenant not only wins Golden Globes, but has gotten the internet all in a frenzy once again for Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar chances. The truth is that this is an awful film and one that looks better than it sounds. At most, Emmanuel Lubezski deserves a Best Cinematography nomination, but that's it. This is DiCaprio's worst role post-Titanic, and it would be a shame for him to even get nominated for basically doing masochistic stuff that stunt performers have been doing for decades without any recognition. It's nonsensical favoritism, and I'll hate when this movie actually is taken seriously (outside of Chivo's category, of course).

Michael Fassbender
2. Steve Jobs in Best Picture

I am aware that at one point, this did seem like an obvious pick. The pedigree behind the film is phenomenal, and I remain a staunch supporter of the film as a whole. However, the film bombed at the box office, and along with it went its hold as an actual Oscar contender. Sure, we may get to see Michael Fassbender (Best Actor), Kate Winslet (Best Supporting Actress), and Aaron Sorkin (Best Adapted Screenplay) make an appearance, but I would love to see this film make it into the Best Picture category. It may be a controversial vote on my behalf (I also want equally maligned Joy to make it - but that seems more plausible), but I do think it's a lot better than some of the front runners that have been popping up during this Oscar season.

Left to right: Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins
3. Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight in Best Supporting Actor 

On the bright side, The Hateful Eight has gotten some traction in a lot of other categories. It seems inevitable that Quentin Tarantino is a lock for Best Original Screenplay, Ennio Morricone for Best Original Score, and Jennifer Jason Leigh for Best Supporting Actress. However, I dare say that the film is an acting powerhouse on everyone else's part. Among the most noteworthy is longtime actor Samuel L. Jackson, who continues to do his best work with Tarantino - and this is no exception. Speaking as the director lead Jackson to an acting nomination for Pulp Fiction, one can only assume that this long shot is more plausible than others (even if it's still not going to happen).

Scene from Anomalisa
4. Anomalisa in Best Adapted Screenplay

It does seem like a welcomed surprise to see an adult animated film having some serious chances in the Best Animated Film category. Even if Inside Out (deservedly so) has the lock on the category, I am hopeful that Charlie Kaufman's latest is able to properly compete in other categories. Among the ones that I hope to see a big surprise in is Best Adapted Screenplay. Considering that Kaufman has appeared in writing categories three times over his career, this isn't too terrible of a long shot, but given the film's low profile, it seems less plausible than normal. Still, I would hope to see this get more than one nomination come Thursday.

Tom Hanks
5. Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies in Best Actor

Why is it so hard for Tom Hanks to get an Oscar nomination anymore? It's not like he just stopped doing great work. However, he hasn't been nominated since Cast Away (16 years ago) and should've been eligible for films like Captain Philips. Considering that Bridge of Spies ranks among some of the actor's best work, as well as one of the best he's done with Steven Spielberg, this should be more of a big deal than what it has been over this past awards season. Of course, there's some hope as the film seems at least guaranteed to rack up noticeable nominations in Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Thomas Newman in Best Original Score, and Mark Rylance in Best Supporting Actor. The only other hope is that Hanks manages to get nominated before he hits an even 20 years sober and we realize how much we've ignored his talent.

Charlize Theron
6. Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road in Best Actress

I will be honest that I still remain skeptical about Mad Max: Fury Road's chances of sweeping the major categories. While I am starting to buy into the hype that it may get a Best Picture nomination, I still think that it will be one of this year's unfortunate surprise snubs, save for a massive presence in technical fields. However, I do think that Charlize Theron more than deserves a nomination for her work as Furiosa, which even if not considered the best acting (for whatever reason) - at she least has done the unthinkable and created an iconic character that people cannot stop talking about. More than any other performer in the film, she more than earns her status as a potential Oscar candidate. The only question is if The Academy is going to take the film seriously overall and make this seem like more than a long shot.

Mark Ruffalo
7. Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight in Best Supporting Actor

The chances of Spotlight winning the entire ball game is still very plausible. However, it looks less confident the further down the line you go. Beyond Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Howard Shore in Best Original Score, there hasn't been much of a runaway presence by the cast that make the film work so well. In a perfect world, I'd like to see Rachel McAdams or Michael Keaton get in, but I'm mostly surprised by the lack of love for Mark Ruffalo - who to me is the definitive standout (and probably the most likely to get nominated). Ruffalo has some of the best scenes of the movie, and his character work is pretty solid. Again, I'd like to hope that this film had more of a confident lock in all of the fields, but it would take a lot of persuasive voting to turn that into a reality.

Charlotte Rampling
8. Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years in Best Actress

Among the films that received a boost thanks to end of the year lists, 45 Years is one that I was immediately struck by. It's such a great and small character drama between an elderly couple. While I would love to see Tom Courtenay in Best Actor, I am one of those that is rooting hard for Charlote Rampling to get a Best Actress nomination that is more than deserved. One cannot help but experience the film and enjoy the subtle nuances that she brings to the role. Compared to Courtenay, she is quiet and reserved - bringing a satisfying payoff to her character. It may not be the most riveting or attention-grabbing role of 2015, but it's one that slowly grabs you and makes you more compelled by the characters in the film.

Scene from Carol
9. Kyle Chandler in Carol in Best Supporting Actor

The idea of nominating Kyle Chandler may seem ridiculous, especially if you watch Carol with focus of him as the antagonist. However, I found that on a second viewing that his thankless role as the desperate ex-husband is full of comical tragedy and reflects its own superb form of acting that has elevated obvious locks Rooney Mara in Best Actress and Cate Blanchett in Best Supporting Actress to the height that they've been at all awards season. I know that he's not as impressive as the others, but he definitely has some charm. Chandler is an actor who has time and again brought greatness out of other actors. I personally wonder if he'll ever get an Oscar nomination, or if making other people look good is actually hurting his chances.

Scene from World of Tomorrow
10. World of Tomorrow in Best Animated Short

There's a good chance that if you follow the right people, you are already familiar with director Don Hertzeldt's amazing short, which is itself a fantastic mixture of animation styles. It also is one of the most philosophical and deep pieces of entertainment to come out of 2015. While it doesn't have as much name recognition as the dreadful Lava, I do hope that it actually manages to make some sort of an impression at The Oscars, especially since Hertzeldt was already nominated in this category before for Rejected. I am not entirely sure how this category works, but it would be a tragedy if this title was not on there.

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