Introducing Movieline's 2011 Oscar Index: Your Weekly, Fool-Proof Awards-Race Breakdown

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The Leading 5:

1. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

2. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

3. Viola Davis, The Help

4. Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

5. Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Outsiders: Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method; Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Charlize Theron, Young Adult; Emma Stone, The Help, Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Felicity Jones, Like Crazy; Michelle Yeoh, The Lady

This is already shaping up as the the most cutthroat race of all, if only for the forces at play and politics at hand. Harvey Weinstein has not one but two lead actresses nearly certain to make the top 10; he'll be pushing to end Streep's 30-year win drought and get the increasingly beloved Williams her second nomination in as many years. Then there's Close, who hasn't even been nominated since the late '80s and has a shapeshifting, gender-bending role to remind the Academy she's not just on TV anymore. Davis belongs in the discussion despite protests that The Help is Stone's movie, if only because regardless of how much The Help makes, one glance at the competition means it's a veteran's race. (That's partly why I don't even entirely scoff at the suggestion that Yeoh could sneak in, though she seems less in the vein of 2008-era Melissa Leo than, say 2010-era Halle Berry.)

Meanwhile GoldDerby asks the fair (and relevant) question, "Are Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton one-time Oscar wonders?" Swinton in particular reiterated recently that she couldn't care less about her Supporting Actress win in 2007 ("I don't know what it means. [...] I wasn't brought up on this planet. I never wanted to win anything but the Cheltenham Gold Cup. But I'm not a race horse."), an attitude that won't necessarily advance her favor among voters regardless how much the majority of her peers respects her. That's why I like Mara, Olsen or Jones to vie for either of the last two spots; that would signal the preference toward new, upstart blood that voters showed last year by nominating Jennifer Lawrence over Swinton -- who went bilingual and everything for the celebrated I Am Love.

Incidentally, a few weeks ago after publishing Knightley among the preliminary Oscar Index's possible Supporting Actress candidates, a publicist nagged me within minutes: "Just so you know Keira is a definite co-lead of ADM, she is in it from beginning to end, and definitely NOT a supporting character." Well, yeah. Tell it to Hailee Steinfeld. And has anyone at Sony Classics seen the wasteland that is Supporting Actress this year? Be smart! Move her!

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The Leading 5:

1. Michael Fassbender, Shame

2. George Clooney, The Descendants

3. Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

4. Brad Pitt, Moneyball

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar

Outsiders: Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Woody Harrelson, Rampart; Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March; Tom Hanks, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Tom Hardy, Warrior; Michael Fassbender, A Dangerous Method

Man, oh man, this will be good: Overdue megastars facing off against a cabal of rookie Euros. Even the Clooney factor being what it is can't hide Fassbender's surge, already the stuff of award-winning, soul-baring legend, not so far removed from the position that we saw Natalie Portman latch on to last year and never relinquish, even as the Bening campaign snapped ferociously at her ballet slippers.

Of course, Fassbender's virtually certain nomination isn't nearly the same thing as Fassbender win. After all, do you really think Fox Searchlight sank money into an NC-17 sex-addict opus because it planned to run Fassbender against Clooney in another Searchlight movie? This is a classic case of buying the competition so you can put it out of business -- not box-office business, mind you, or even awards-season business. They want each nominated. But obviously only one can win, and only one has the clear potential to capitalize on that win in a mass-market, take-the-family sort of way. A nomination that will burnish the other's art-house mythology will do just fine as well. Give this until mid-October, after both have screened at the New York Film Festival, and let's see where things lie.

Elsewhere, Pitt and Oldman are getting some of the best reviews of their careers for their respective films, while DiCaprio has 4,000 makeup-chair hours invested in what he hopes will be his fourth nomination. Scott Feinberg says that it's all down to Pitt and DiCaprio in particular, writing of the latter at THR, "I've heard from people who have already screened J. Edgar, but are not working on its behalf and have no vested interest in its success, that he will be very hard to beat." Harrelson is losing TIFF momentum by the day without a U.S. distributor to take up Rampart's cause, while Dujardin is the ultimate wild-card -- not least because of his film's old-fashioned charm and the types of inspired Weinstein dark arts that lifted Roberto Benigni to a surprising victory back in '98.

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Comments

  • The WInchester says:

    I find your lack of Piranha 3DD expectations disturbing.

  • The WInchester says:

    In all seriousness, I heartily welcome back your coverage, as it find it to be the least manic and more thought out of all the oscar coverage that's out there. (Plus you usually help me get the most correct in the pool on awards day!)
    2 quick points to make: while I like the concept of the new 5 to 10 rule, I feel that takes away from the "Inception" slot, which I was still carrying a torch for Super 8 to take. But I'm guessing despite the great reviews, that's not gonna happen.
    Also, is there any way we can drum up more support for Win Win? Because that flick was top notch all around, and I'd love some McCarthey love from the academy. (Or at least that albino lookin kid).

  • Thanks, Winchester. I was always thinking _Super 8_ would be the Inception Exception, but then... yeah. And _Win Win_ is also gonna slip thru the cracks, I'm afraid. Oscar Index is just temperature in the end, and good as the film is, that one's ice cold awards-wise. I'd love to be wrong!

  • Annie says:

    Easy there. Regardless of sarcasm, that was kind of unnecessary. I agree with most of your predictions anyway.

  • Devin says:

    I know she's totally a long, long, longshot, but I'd love to see Kirsten Dunst get some buzz for Melancholia. It's a bleak role and she doesn't have as much to do in the second half of the film, but it still made me look at her entirely differently as an actress.

  • God that'd be awesome. That movie keeps creeping up among my favorites this year; I would very much love to see the same result. Maybe critics awards can get her in the mix? I think that's the only shot she has...

  • AS says:

    If War Horse is a serious contender I'll cover myself in my own vomit and commit suicide. A bit extreme? Perhaps, but the thought of another hyper-sentimental flick courtesy of Steven Spielberg, instead of Eastwood for a change, with an equally cringe inducing score from our friend John Williams is a bit much to bear. But it is lovely to see Spielberg step out of his comfort zone and make a war film for a change.
    On another note, I'm disgusted that Drive seems to be getting zero Oscar buzz, despite being the best film of the year so far. But then that would be consistent with the Academy's annually overlooked master works. Last year Animal Kingdom, this year Drive. I honestly don't know why I pay any attention any more. Whenever you talk about the Academy Awards its important to remember 1 fact, Oliver won Best Picture in 1968. You know what else came out that year? 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the wise words of Charlie Sheen "Sizzle, loosing, bye."

  • anonymous says:

    A few things:
    1. It saddens me tat Alan Rickman is not a contender for the supporting actor race, despite his moving performance
    2. No Ralph Fiennes for Actor/Director of Coriolanus?
    3. John C. Reily is the most likely to get the oscar for Carnage, not necessarily because of his performance (although I am sure he is great), but because he is the only one who hasn't won an oscar, and he may be "due" for one. See: Julia Roberts (Erin Brokovich), Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman), etc.
    Otherwise, I feeli like some extremely worthy candidates are beign snubbed, such as Blake Lively's exquisite performance in the cinematic juggernaut "The Green Lantern", or Zach Snyder's divine direction/screenwriting of the fantasy stipper opus "Sucker Punch.

  • Denise says:

    I see that you left out THE FIRST GRADER which was an Amazing film that came in second place to The King’s Speech at last year’s Toronto Film Festival. The male actor, Oliver Litondo was absolutely brilliant in it. Wish more people knew about it because it really was moving and inspirational. Even Whoopi loved it… check out what she had to say about it on The View: http://youtu.be/pXXGW-kDTO8
    Youtube Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-eBT7vnTLE

  • McGillicuddy says:

    Is Octavia Spencer spelled with a c or an s. Because you have it listed differently in the tags?

  • Skylar says:

    I loved your article.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  • Kylie says:

    I should admit that this can be a single excellent insight. It surely gives a company the opportunity to have in on the ground floor and really take part in making a thing particular and tailored to their needs.

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