Who Did We Pick For Best Actor/Actress, 2014?
So the oscars are tonight; much like the supporting categories, I feel like one of these races has a chance at a minor upset and one is encased in Adamantium. Snicktity Snickt, bitches! It’s a tad anticlimactic waiting to hear the official announcement when these awards seem to have been wrapped up for a while, but hey, I’m not sitting through 3 hours of “who gives a shit” just to turn away at the moment of truth. Who knows, maybe something outrageous will happen (I’m looking at you Marisa Tomei). Without further ado, let’s take a look at the nominees for best actor and actress. I will once again list these in order of who I would eliminate from the discussion.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
JUDI DENCH – ‘PHILOMENA’
How can anyone dislike Judi Dench? ‘Philomena’ is a terrific little film and Dench portrays the tragic protagonist, Philomena Lee to perfection, blending just the right amount of humor and sadness. The problem is, there’s little buzz around ‘Philomena’, which means there’s little buzz around Dench. This is a film that plays right into Dench’s acting wheelhouse, so she really isn’t stretching herself here.
AMY ADAMS – ‘AMERICAN HUSTLE’
Adams, much like Jennifer Lawrence, is going to find herself here many more times. She holds her own in the great ensemble of ‘Hustle’, but much like the other players in that film, doesn’t rise enough above the crowd to warrant extra consideration. If you want to create an award for best side boob, she’s a shoe in, but this isn’t her year for top honors.
SANDRA BULLOCK – ‘GRAVITY’
Bullock haters are coming out of the woodwork. I can’t pin point why she’s such a polarizing figure with movie fans, but whenever her name is mentioned for awards, trolls flock to message boards to spit vitriol with like minded idiots. Bullock is a very good actress, and she’s very good in ‘Gravity’, but what most folks are taking away from the film is the unprecedented visual experience. Bullock had to endure a lot to pull off this character on screen, and this nomination is warranted, but there just isn’t enough support to carry her through.
MERYL STREEP – ‘AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY’
I need to go on record as a Streep hater. Not that I think she’s a bad actress. She’s certainly not. But 18 Academy Award nominations? Really? No one is THAT good. Now getting nominated that many times isn’t her fault, it’s the fault of the Academy members that seem to think if Streep is in a film it automatically MUST be one of the top five performances of the year. Bullshit! What’s unfortunate is all of those unwarranted nominations cheapen her stock for those few that are truly deserved, like this one. Streep is a tour-de-force in ‘August’, but since we tossed her a golden statue for ‘The Iron Lady’, robbing Viola Davis of her moment, we have to ignore her here.
CATE BLANCHETT – ‘BLUE JASMINE’
Fortunately for Academy Voters, Blanchett was next level in ‘Blue Jasmine’, so ignoring the great performance of Streep comes easy, and she’s had a spot cleared on her mantle for weeks in anticipation of this night. She’s been unscathed by the Woody Allen controversy up to this point, and I think voters can easily set aside their opinions on that scandal long enough to cast their vote for the lady that had nothing to do with whatever happened in Woody’s bedroom 30 years ago. Blanchett is otherworldly as the lady who goes from all to nothing, and watching her mental and emotional breakdown is both tragic and brilliant.
SHOULD WIN – CATE BLANCHETT
WILL WIN – CATE BLANCHETT
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
CHRISTIAN BALE – ‘AMERICAN HUSTLE’
Bale is one of the best actors working today. Almost no one invests themselves physically and mentally the way he does for a role. Playing the con man in ‘Hustle’ is no exception, but unlike his standout performance in ‘The Fighter’, Bale gets lost in the crowd here, moving step for step with the ensemble but rarely beyond.
BRUCE DERN – ‘NEBRASKA’
If you listen to some of Bruce Dern’s interviews, I don’t get the sense that crotchety old man is much of a stretch for him. Yes, I did enjoy Dern in ‘Nebraska’, but all he was really asked to do was stumble around and grunt and groan on occasion while June Sqibb and Will Forte handle most of the heavy lifting. It wouldn’t be the Academy Awards however if a beloved, aging Hollywood icon wasn’t in the mix for something. Maybe he can get Judi Dench to dance with him at the after party, if he can stay awake that long.
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY – ‘DALLAS BUYERS CLUB’
I think McConaughey is going to win this award. His buzz meter is off the charts right now. And if a win here assures us that we’ll continue to get more performances from this McConaughey 2.0 we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years, I’ll find a way to reconcile with it. He was good in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. That’s all. I actually thought his performance in ‘Mud’ earlier in the year was better. And as a character, Ron Woodruff felt an awful lot more like an opportunistic entrepreneur than a hero to the masses. I only mention that because it’s the dislikable character that many feel will yet again rob Leonardo DiCaprio of another Oscar statue.
LEONARDO DI CAPRIO – ‘THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’
Pound for pound the greatest actor working today without an Oscar on his shelf. Don’t argue with me. I’m right. I guess just working with Martin Scorsese implies he has to wait far to long into his career to receive the accolades he deserves. Di Caprio is a non-stop tornado of acting in ‘Wolf’, but the unsavory character he plays, and just the story in general has turned off a lot of people who apparently can’t set aside narrative bias to see the performance. Unfortunately, Leo is going to one day receive his award on a year where his performance wasn’t as good, as an overdue lifetime achievement award, robbing someone else who was better on that particular year. And the beat goes on at the Academy Awards.
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR – ’12 YEARS A SLAVE’
As much as I was championing Leo in the previous segment, I do not feel this is the year he steals Oscar gold from someone more deserving. Leo was great, but we’ve come to expect great from him, making his performance…normal Leo. Ejiofor, however? How can this guy be ignored for his portrayal of the freeman turned slave, Solomon Northup? He is so believable. So impressive. There is a moment in the film when he turns to face the camera, says nothing yet everything at the same time simply with his pained, hollow eyes and quivering lip. This is the type of performance that simply should not be overlooked, but alas, it likely will because either the Academy will keep the McConaughey hype machine churning or feel Leo’s time has finally come.
SHOULD WIN – CHIWETEL EJIOFOR
WILL WIN – MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY
I don’t see any drama bubbling up in either of these races before Sunday, so I’m feeling quite secure in my final picks. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the talkback below. I’m always curious to hear other’s opinions.