Oscar Watch: Bridge of Spies

This evening one of the year’s biggest potential Oscar contenders had its first screenings in Hollywood and at the New York Film Festival: Steven Spielberg’s Cold War era espionage thriller Bridge of Spies. From the moment this project was announced, its chance at Academy attention was never in doubt. Spielberg has won two Director awards and been nominated a total of seven times. Nine of his movies have been nominated for the big prize with Schindler’s List being the only winner. Star Tom Hanks has won Actor twice and been nominated on three other occasions. Co-screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen are Oscar winning directors in their own right whose screenplays for Fargo and No Country for Old Men also nabbed them statues in addition to three other writing nods. So, yeah, Bridge of Spies seemed like a legit contender.

However, up until this evening, no one had seen it. The verdict? Very solid. Early reviews are awfully positive with critics hailing it as an old fashioned yarn with a terrific star turn from Hanks, whose performance has been noted as Jimmy Stewart-esque. On the supporting side, acclaimed stage actor Mark Rylance is getting raves as an alleged Russian spy. Hanks may be the big name, but I think Rylance’s nomination in Supporting Actor is virtually assured. As for Mr. Hanks, nomination #6 could certainly be coming, but I don’t believe it’s a guarantee. After all, he was snubbed for Captain Phillips two years ago and it contains some of the most remarkable work of his storied career. On the other hand, the Actor race seems less competitive than in 2013 so that could assist him greatly.

The screenings buzz puts Bridge right in line for Picture and Director nominations. I predicted it would get a Picture nod in my first round of prognostications and see no reason why it wouldn’t still be included when I do my second round later this week.

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