It’s the end of October with Halloween around the corner and the 2013-14 movie award season is under way. Screening invitations have gone out to members of the Academy (A.M.P.A.S.) and a theater or two have opened their doors to award voters for the first few indie films. Is it time to consider nomination possibilities?
Perhaps; perhaps not. Films that haven’t even begun to be advertised are awaiting announcement, like the Christmas release on December 25th, “Labor Day.” You know, Jason Reitman’s (“Up In the Air”) latest, with Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, Tobey Maguire and Clark Gregg? What? You haven’t even heard of it? Don’t feel bad. The promotions haven’t yet appeared and Rotten Tomatoes hasn’t yet put it on their Coming Soon list.
Still, it’s fun to look back and consider a few outstanding candidates for performances we’ve seen that could be contenders for the acting nominations. Here are just a few thoughts:
Clearly, Tom Hanks gut-wrenching moments in the final few minutes of “Captain Phillips” is likely to bring him back into the competition. He might even win it and, if he did, it would be his third Oscar.
This might be the year that the limitless talent of Cate Blanchett is acknowledged again (to date, one Oscar, three nominations) with her edgy, studious interpretation of a pathology that's both glamorous and unbalancing. Her portrayal, of course, rests on an almost surprisingly mature script by Allen that takes his oeuvre to a new level of tragedy, wit, and dialogue. What say to him as a contender for Best Director and/or Best Original Screenplay?
One of the more unpredictable performances at this level came from Matthew McConaughey in “Mud.” As a drifter in love with a woman and ready to put his neck in a noose just to see her, he reaches a level of character portrayal we haven’t seen before, and a nod is a possibility. Sixteen year-old Tye Sheridan is strongly deserving of recognition in the Best Supporting category for the pure energy he adds to the story as Mud’s eager disciple.
To get a Best Actor nod, which comes first from the acting branch of the Academy (that is, actor judging actors), you’ve got to turn something in that’s above anything one might expect. A depth rarely seen; a total immersion into a character; a variation on humanity that is surprising and stuns us in our seats. Such might well be the basis for a nod to Michael Douglas for his unsparing rendition of Liberace in Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra.” A Best Supporting might well go to Matt Damon for an equally convincing illumination of a dependent, gay lover.
There’s also the acting force-of-nature, Daniel-Day Lewis for “Lincoln;” Ryan Gosling, 'The Place Beyond the Pines'; everyone else in “The Place Beyond the Pines,” those I’ve forgotten but shouldn’t have, and those I haven’t yet seen.
What’s your take?