Oscar Index: Extremely Artist and Incredibly Horse
The Leading 5:
1. Octavia Spencer, The Help
2. Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
3. Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
4. Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
5. Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Outsiders: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids; Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter; Jessica Chastain, The Help; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Judi Dench, J. Edgar; Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method; Mia Wasikowska, Albert Nobbs; Emily Watson, War Horse; Marion Cotillard, Midnight in Paris
It was just a matter of time before Bullock was officially inducted into this anemic category, made only slightly controversial by the lively, ongoing chatter about McCarthy's viability as an Oscar contender. A solid limited opening last weekend for Take Shelter probably won't be enough to keep Chastain in the overall mix long enough to outlast the likes of the well-reinforced Woodley and the surging Artist co-star Bejo. And while I keep hearing murmurs about Cotillard creeping in, I'm with Anne Thompson: "[A]s popular as Midnight in Paris is, it won't get any acting nods. None of the performances are the right sort, none stand out in the right way. Cotillard's is simply too small."
The Leading 5:
1. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
2. Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
3. Albert Brooks, Drive
4. Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
5. Nick Nolte, Warrior
Outsiders: Jonah Hill, Moneyball; Jim Broadbent, The Iron Lady; Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; John C. Reilly, Carnage; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Moneyball; Armie Hammer, J. Edgar; Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
What a difference a week makes! Christopher Plummer's mortal lock on Supporting Actor seems threatened now by von Sydow, though we still have a long way to go before Incredibly Close drops and some serious ground to gain for the 82-year-old Swedish legend. Thankfully he's playing catch-up with an 81-year-old Canadian in Plummer, so it's really just a matter of whose walker has the horsepower to really giddy-up through the home stretch. I still think it's Plummer's to lose, but the squad at Kudos Forensics scientifically confirms it is indeed too soon to tell.
More fun with also-rans: I sincerely love Mark Harris's run through the Supporting Actor category, featuring recent Verge designee Corey Stoll (who earns favor from Kristopher Tapley as well) and, most intriguingly, Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
[A]s anyone who has watched the movie knows, you never actually see Serkis -- his performance is a seamless melding of the actor's own skills with those of a vast throng of motion-capture and performance-capture technicians and digital-effects creators. The result is compelling enough to have inspired calls for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. And thus, the first question voters will have to ask themselves is, If Serkis is never on-screen, can you honestly refer to what he does as acting? [...]
Here's my answer: I don't know. And to the extent that Academy members may feel the same bewilderment, that's probably bad news for Serkis. Given his contribution to movies, he almost certainly deserves a nomination for something, but I'm not convinced it's for Best Supporting Actor. To explain my resistance as something other than Luddite technophobia, let me point to a few other contenders in the category (which is still wide open).
It'll never happen, but still! I highly recommend checking the rest out at Grantland. And maybe -- just maybe -- picking up some white-out just in case you already notched a Plummer win in ink. Or you can always feel free to borrow mine.