Friday, August 26, 2005

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Actor)

Part 3 of 4
Statistics show that each year produces at least 2 acting nominees prior to the fall film arrivals. Who will they be? We're checking out each category to find out

So here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes) in each category if the year ended on August 31st. We'll get to some other roundups in the next installments. How much endurance can these leading Actors muster going into the final four-month stretch?

Don CheadleCrash
Russell Crowe Cinderella Man
Ralph FiennesThe Constant Gardener
Terrance Howard Hustle & Flow
Bill Murray Broken Flowers

In addition to these names there's some other stars I want to mention. For the Baleheads out there, sorry about the inevitable Oscar skipping of Batman Begins. Nobody has ever been nominated for playing a superhero. The villains have never even been able to make it in with the lone exception of Al Pacino in Dick Tracy. Other men who can't have Oscar runs but could factor (theoretically) into awards season? For the Indie Spirits you've got Joseph Gordon Levit Mysterious Skin, Michael Pitt Last Days, Tony Leung 2046, and Romain Duris The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Longshot Golden Globe Comedy contenders? Brad Pitt Mr & Mrs Smith, Owen & Vince The Wedding Crashers and Steve Carell The 40 Year Old Virgin

But back to the Oscars.

It's all about the Oscars in the end. If you accept my premise that the five men bulleted above are the leaders for now... can any of them survive the dozens of stars aiming for gold in upcoming films?

If any can it won't be Don Cheadle. Oh sure, there are some who are no doubt still smarting from his loss last year. But he's part of the ensemble in Crash and when someone in an ensemble asks for lead consideration Oscar voters don't usually comply. They're more than happy to make adjustments in the other direction but that's a story for another time. It may surprise you to see who I'm also dropping right away: Bill Murray. I just don't see another nod happening again so quickly for another tour of his by now iconic comic deadpan face. Oscars and big media like to have "stories" or angles to their awards season and Murray's huge breakthrough was the story of 2003, not 2005. Methinks Broken Flowers will wilt.

Pros & Cons
This leaves us with a boxer, a pimp, and a grieving widower, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Russell Crowe is always Oscar bait (+) he's playing a boxer (+) he's a great actor (+) but he's also an asshole (big -) with a recent embarrassing incident (-) and he's been amply rewarded already (-) and Cinderella Man needs him rather than the other way around for Oscar play (-). Ralph Fiennes is a former nominee who hasn't won yet (+) getting awesome reviews for The Constant Gardener (+) and he has another Oscar bait role coming up (+ and a - ?votesplitting?) but there are those who believe Rachel Weisz steals this show (-). 2005's Critical darling and breakout actor (huge +) Terrance Howard leads a hit indie film Hustle & Flow (+) anchored the earlier hit drama Crash in a supporting role (+) but he's a new face (-) not half as famous as his upcoming competition (-) and Oscar likes new actors to sweat a bit before giving them props (-)

Most Likely to Survive?
Hard to call. Crowe is doing damage control and Cinderella Man will probably get a huge campaign. Fiennes could vote-split and Howard might have to settle for critics prizes. I'm going with Fiennes for now. He's respected. He's been out of the big race for a while. He has two films and his resurgence can be a media-friendly story.


Kris said...

Fiennes won't survive unless The White Countess breathes air into his sails and causes voters to look at The Constant Gardener again. Sure, if the Oscars were tomorrow, he'd be in the hunt to win. But a lot is left to happen, and I think Crowe has the best chance of sticking out out, ultimately.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that Ralph will survive with The Constant Gardner or just Ralph Feinnes in general?

I am truly unsure if any of these can last until the end of the year. A possibly minus for Howard would be that, yes the film was critically successful, but it didn't really do much in terms of box-office. I think if they were going to nominate him the film had to be a decent hit - around the size of 'Crash'. And Murray's deadpan thing is now very familiar (unfortunately) so I agree with you on that point.

Crowe is actuallty the one I would figure to survive because there's some people that can survive anything if they're good enough. And surely the Academy would just love to be seen as forgiving him.

Unless he gets thrown in jail...


Anonymous said...

Forgive the controversy, but I don't think the Academy mind the Crowe bad boy stuff. I think they actually engage in a perverse enjoyment of it. The biggest problem for Crowe right now is more the fact that there's still a faint stench lingering from the last Howard/Goldsman/Crowe/Academy love-in.

Looking elsewhere, Howard and Fiennes are dependent on who steals their thunder late in the year. They're like this year's Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys, or Liam Neeson in Kinsey; the nomination makes utter sense and will happen, but only if there's enough room left at the table.


Anonymous said...

Yeah. I don't think Cheadle, Murray or Crowe will make it. As for Fiennes, I think he'll have a better shot with The White Countess, though TCD will help. Anyhow, Focus are gonna have a job choosing who to campaign.

I actually think Howard has the best chance, and I think he might pick up the NBR Breakthrough and MAYBE a critic award or too. We'll see.


o ye of little faith. This has been an interesting exercize because everyone keeps saying no no no about each category.

clearly, given academy history, a couple of people will survive.

as far as the academy not minding crowe's antics... i doubt that that's true. Now, I know I am not a typical moviegoer (the AMPAS voters are closer to that) but I used to love him (way back in the Insider/LA Confidential days) and now I just can't stomach him because he just strikes me as so arrogant and just... well, if i'm feeling that way I know other people out there are too.

And if he couldn't make it in a weak year (2003) for best actor in a film that had 10 nominations. Why would he make it this year?

adam k. said...

Hm... I was about to say I thought Crowe had the best shot, but Nathaniel raises a good point. The ABM loss, and even moreso, the M&C snub, are quite telling. Now it could be that actors just didn't care for that movie (Bettany REALLY should've been nommed), but they do seem kinda through with Crowe for a while. I'm sure they'll nominate him again soon, but probably not for an early-in-the-year, less successful, ABM redux. He may have to really blow them away to get back in the circle. But that said, the campaign/rerelease will count for a lot. My instinct is that Giamatti, the score, and perhaps some other techs will survive, but not Crowe or Howard.
Feinnes will make it, but for White Countess.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the Beautiful Mind loss for Crowe said as much about a Crowe-behaviour backlash as it did about a desire to see Washington win. The feeling about Washington sneaking in for the Best Actor victory was just there, much in the way that you sensed Million Dollar Baby was going to sneak in and take Best Picture this year. The BAFTA behaviour that year had already been well-documented by the time the SAG votes closed, and he still picked up the SAG.

As for Master & Commander, Crowe was always battling it out for the fifth slot for that movie, and Jude Law sneaked in instead ("Aaar'll maaaareh yuuuuuu").


Anonymous said...

I think I'm one of the few that actually really thought he deserved to be nominated for Master & Commander. Moreso than Law or Kingsley (by a nose).

Crowe actually, for the first time in a while, looked like he was having fun with the role and gave the film a great tone. I dunno...

I also thought Penn was better in 21 Grams and would've nominated Peter Dinklage alongside Depp and Murray with shoutouts to Chiwetel Ejoifor (Dirty Pretty Things), Robert Duvall (Open Range), Shia LaBouef (Holes) and Gary Sweet (Alexandra's Project).

I do sort of agree with your thing on Crowe though. But I'd still put him above Howard and Feinnes (for The Constant Gardner) at the moment.