2022 Oscar Predictions: August 10th Edition

For my first Oscar analysis in the 8 major categories for the month of August, the ten BP contenders remain the same. However, Everything Everywhere All at Once moves to #2 with Babylon slipping a spot to third. I truly do believe there’s a path for Once to take the top prize next year depending on how the next five months of releases play out.

At the end of July, I vaulted Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans to #1 in BP. Today I’m putting the filmmaker in first with Babylon‘s Damien Chazelle now in second.

While my lead actress and actor picks remain unaltered, there is movement in both supporting derbies. In Supporting Actress, Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and Griselda Sicillani (Bardo) are in my projected quintet with Hong Chau (The Whale) and Zoe Kazan (She Said) falling out. In Supporting Actor, I’m switching Empire of Light costars with Michael Ward making the cut over Colin Firth.

Finally, I’ve taken Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives out of contention in all categories where I previously had it listed as a possibility. If Amazon Prime mounts a campaign later this year, it could find itself back in the mix. I wouldn’t count on it despite its solid reviews.

Expect another update in the next week or two! You can peruse all the movement below:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Babylon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

6. The Son (PR: 6) (E)

7. Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Whale (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. White Noise (PR: 12) (+1)

12. She Said (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Elvis (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (-1)

16. Decision to Leave (PR: 16) (E)

17. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 18) (+1)

18. Bones and All (PR: 20) (+2)

19. Till (PR: 19) (E)

20. Broker (PR: 17) (-3)

21. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 22) (+1)

22. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 23) (+1)

23. The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

24. The Woman King (PR: 24) (E)

25. Amsterdam (PR: 21) (-4)

Dropped Out:

Thirteen Lives 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 8) (E)

9. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 11) (+1)

11. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 9 (-2)

12. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 12) (E)

13. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Maria Schrader, She Said (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Bax Luhrmann, Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Hirokazu Kore-eda, Broker

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 9) (E)

10. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 10) (E)

11. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Frances McDormand, Women Talking (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Florence Pugh, The Wonder (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling

Emma Corrin, Lady Chatterley’s Lover 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 1) (E)

4. Damien Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (E)

11. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Timothee Chalamet, Bones and All (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Christian Bale, The Pale Blue Eye (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Harry Styles, My Policeman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Griselda Sicillani, Bardo (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Samantha Morton, She Said (PR: +2)

14. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 14) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Patricia Clarkson, She Said 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: 10) (+6)

5. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Zen McGrath, The Son (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (PR: 9) (-2)

12. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 15) (+3)

13. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Don Cheadle, White Noise (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 13) (-2)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (E)

7. Decision to Leave (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Bardo (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Tar (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Menu (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Broker (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 15) (+3)

13. Bros (PR: 13) (E)

14. Amsterdam (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Whale (PR: 3) (E)

4. White Noise (PR: 4) (E)

5. She Said (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bones and All (PR: 6) (E)

7. Till (PR: 7) (E)

8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 8) (-2)

11. Living (PR: 14) (+3)

12. The Lost King (PR: Not Ranked)

13. The Woman King (PR: 13) (E)

14. Blonde (PR: 15) (+1)

15. The Good Nurse (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Thirteen Lives 

2022 Oscar Predictions: July 31st Edition

As July comes to a close, Oscar prognosticators received several bits of fascinating news this past week. The first was the lineup of the Venice Film Festival as well as the bulk of titles that will play in Toronto. That wild season (which also includes Telluride) is a mere month away. We will see a huge number of awards hopefuls being screened with long awaited buzz finally becoming clear.

Yet the biggest news is the (as yet unconfirmed) rumor that Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon will not come out until 2023. Variety and Deadline essentially reported it as fact. I struggled all day with whether to include Killers in my updated predictions (I faced the same choices a couple of weeks ago with Rustin). My final decision was to drop it. If Killers ends up back on the 2022 calendar, Variety and Deadline have some explaining to do…

Another development is that Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives was released. While reviews were certainly decent, I don’t think they’re strong enough that it will be a true BP contender. It’s at #25 on my list.

The Killers announcement obviously means major changes in most of my lineups. Cannes fest winner Triangle of Sadness replaces it in my 10 BP picks while Sarah Polley (Women Talking) is in for Scorsese in Director. Adam Driver in the Venice opener White Noise replaces Leonardo DiCaprio in Actor. Hong Chau (The Whale) is now in Supporting Actress with Lily Gladstone out. And with Jesse Plemons dropping in Supporting Actor, that leaves room for Triangle‘s Woody Harrelson. Finally, She Said rises in Adapted Screenplay.

That’s not all, folks! There’s a new #1 in Best Picture! I’ve had Damien Chazelle’s Babylon ranked #1 from the beginning… until now. In order to find a BP winner that didn’t play at either Venice or Telluride or Toronto or Sundance or Cannes, you have to go all the way back to (ironically) Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. That was 16 years ago. Babylon could still sneak into Telluride. Yet I’m skeptical it will. This factoid alone is enough for me to vault Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans (premiering at Toronto) to the top spot.

I’m not finished yet with the #1 changes. The Son is now first in Adapted Screenplay since Killers has moved. And Ke Huy Quan rises to the pole position in Supporting Actor over Paul Dano from The Fabelmans. 

Another alteration – Empire of Light falls out of Original Screenplay with The Banshees of Inisherin in as my likely lone screenplay nominee.

That’s a lot of movement in one week and you can peruse it all below!

Best Picture 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 2) (+1)

2. Babylon (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Bardo (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

6. The Son (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Empire of Light (PR: 8) (+1)

8. The Whale (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 15) (+5)

Other Possibilities:

11. She Said (PR: 11) (E)

12. White Noise (PR: 12) (E)

13. Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (E)

15. Elvis (PR: 16) (+1)

16. Decision to Leave (PR: 19) (+3)

17. Broker (PR: 18) (+1)

18. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 20) (+2)

19. Till (PR: 17) (-2)

20. Bones and All (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Amsterdam (PR: 23) (+2)

22. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 24) (+2)

23. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 25) (+2)

24. The Woman King (PR: 21) (-3)

25. Thirteen Lives (PR: 22) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Killers of the Flower Moon 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 11) (+4)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 8) (E)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Hirokazu Kore-eda, Broker (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Maria Schrader, She Said (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon

Chinoye Chukwu, Till

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 3) (E)

4. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 6) (E)

7. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 10) (E)

11. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 15) (+2)

14. Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 14) (E)

15. Emma Corrin, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Frances McDormand, Women Talking 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Timothee Chalamet, Bones and All (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 12) (E)

13. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: 15) (+2)

14. Christian Bale, The Pale Blue Eye (PR: 14) (E)

15. Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives (PR: 13) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Griselda Sicillani, Bardo (PR: 13) (+5)

9. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 9) (E)

10. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 10) (E)

11. Patricia Clarkson, She Said (PR: 11) (E)

12. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 12) (E)

13. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Samantha Morton, She Said (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Whoopi Goldberg, Till 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+2)

2. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Zen McGrath, The Son (PR: 6) (E)

7. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 12) (+4)

9. Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Don Cheadle, White Noise (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 15) (+2)

14. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon

Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon

Colin Farrell, Thirteen Lives 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Empire of Light (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Bardo (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Tar (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Decision to Leave (PR: 9) (E)

10. Broker (PR: 10) (E)

11. The Menu (PR: 11) (E)

12. Amsterdam (PR: 12) (E)

13. Bros (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 15) (E)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Son (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Women Talking (PR: 3) (+1)

3. The Whale (PR: 4) (+1)

4. White Noise (PR: 5) (+1)

5. She Said (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bones and All (PR: 13) (+7)

7. Till (PR: 7) (E)

8 .The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 11) (+3)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 12) (+2)

11. Thirteen Lives (PR: 9) (-2)

12. The Good Nurse (PR: 14) (+2)

13. The Woman King (PR: 8) (-5)

14. Living (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Killers of the Flower Moon

Elvis 

2022 Oscar Predictions: July 24th Edition

The release schedule for 2022 is always shifting (though thankfully not as much as in 2020 and 2021). This week, there were reports that Netflix’s Rustin will be pushed to 2023. While this isn’t 100% confirmed, it’s enough that I’ve moved it out of contention and that’s significant. I had it pegged for a Best Picture nomination as well as Actor (Colman Domingo) and Supporting Actress (Audra McDonald) in my post from 7 days ago.

The beneficiary of Rustin falling out of contention? None other than Top Gun: Maverick. Let me be clear – I’m very skeptical that it receives a nod in the biggest race of all. Yet it’s hard to ignore the potency of its box office supremacy over the summer. Oscar voters will know that audiences will root for its inclusion. And that could be enough to push it past the finish line.

In Actor, Bardo‘s Daniel Gimenez Cacho replaces Domingo while Zoe Kazan (She Said) rises to the final five in Supporting Actress. There’s another change in Actress as I’m putting Cate Blanchett (Tar) in the mix over Regina King (Shirley). The latter is another Netflix effort where the release date seems uncertain. If they verify 2022 in the near future, she could (and probably would) get back in the mix.

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

6. Bardo (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Son (PR: 7) (E)

8. Empire of Light (PR: 8) (E)

9. The Whale (PR: 9) (E)

10. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. She Said (PR: 11) (E)

12. White Noise (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 18) (+3)

16. Elvis (PR: 16) (E)

17. Till (PR: 21) (+4)

18. Broker (PR: 19) (+1)

19. Decision to Leave (PR: 22) (+3)

20. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 20) (E)

21. The Woman King (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Thirteen Lives (PR: 17) (-5)

23. Amsterdam (PR: 23) (E)

24. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: Not Ranked)

25. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rustin

The Killer

Don’t Worry Darling 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 6) (E)

7. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 8) (E)

9. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 9) (E)

10. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 10) (E)

11. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 11) (E)

12. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Chinoye Chukwu, Till (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Hirokazu Kore-ada, Broker 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 3) (E)

4. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 7) (E)

8. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (E)

9. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 11) (E)

12. Frances McDormand, Women Talking (PR: 12) (E)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 13) (E)

14. Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Annette Bening, Nyad 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 6) (E)

7. Song-Kang Ho, Broker (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 8) (E)

9. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 11) (E)

12. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Christian Bale, The Pale Blue Eye (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Colman Domingo, Rustin 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 6) (E)

7. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (E)

9. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 11) (+2)

10. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Patricia Clarkson, She Said (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Griselda Sicillani, Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Whoopi Goldberg, Till (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Audra McDonald, Rustin

Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth

Jodie Foster, Nyad 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Zen McGrath, The Son (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 9) (E)

10. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 12) (+2)

11. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: 8) (-3)

12. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Colin Farrell, Thirteen Lives (PR: 11) (-3)

15. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 14) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Glynn Turman, Rustin 

Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Empire of Light (PR: 4) (E)

5. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Bardo (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tar (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. Decision to Leave (PR: 11) (+2)

10. Broker (PR: 10) (E)

11. The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Amsterdam (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Bros (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Rustin 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Son (PR: 2) (E)

3. Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Whale (PR: 4) (E)

5. White Noise (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. She Said (PR: 6) (E)

7. Till (PR: 8) (+1)

8. The Woman King (PR: 12) (+4)

9. Thirteen Lives (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 11) (+1)

11. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 9) (-2)

12. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Bones and All (PR: 13) (E)

14. The Good Nurse (PR: 10) (-4)

15. Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Close

The Killer

Oscar Watch: Soul

Disney/Pixar’s second 2020 release Soul has long been seen as their most viable Oscar contender over this spring’s Onward. Today’s buzz after it held the first screening at the London Film Festival confirms that. The jazz infused tale from Pete Docter and Kemp Powers is being called two familiar adjectives in the studio’s lexicon – heartfelt and crowd pleasing. Soul, after experiencing delays due to the COVID pandemic, is slated for a Disney+ debut on Christmas Day.

Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, and Angela Bassett, several reviews are already claiming it’s in the upper echelon of Pixar pics. Docter is no stranger to Academy love. All three of his directorial efforts – Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out – were nominated for Best Animated Feature. The latter two emerged victorious and Up is one of three animated flicks to achieve a Best Picture nomination.

The question is not whether Soul will make the final cut in Animated Feature. It absolutely will and it’s absolutely the strong front runner to win. A better debate is whether this is the fourth animated effort to contend for the big prize. I don’t believe that’s automatic. Inside Out also garnered sterling critical reaction in 2015 and fell short of that achievement. However, Soul has solidified its position as a legit hopeful.

Additionally, expect Best Sound and the Original Score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to be in the mix. Bottom line: Soul helped it cause to play beyond Animated Feature. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

X-Men at 20: A Look Back

Twenty years ago today, Bryan Singer’s X-Men arrived in theaters and it’s not hyperbole to call it one of the most influential pictures of the 21st century. The 20th Century Fox release found the comic book genre at a rather low point at the end of that said century. While Blade was a nice size hit in 1998, the years prior found at a lot to be desired with the quality of the genre. 1995 brought us Judge Dredd and 1997 saw the release of Batman and Robin, which found the Caped Crusader with Bat nipples and bad reviews.

X-Men, though it’s hard to remember now, was released at a time where the idea of superhero tales was an uncertain box office prospect. This is two years before Spider-Man broke all kinds of financial records. This is five years prior to Christopher Nolan reinvigorating the Bat franchise with his Dark Knight trilogy. And this was eight years before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man, officially kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the summer of 2000, X-Men was by no means a guaranteed hit. It did, however, have credibility with the behind the scenes talent and cast. Bryan Singer was known for his heralded The Usual Suspects. Acclaimed actors Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen (fresh off an Oscar nod for Gods and Monsters), Anna Paquin, and Halle Berry were among the onscreen players. And it was another casting decision that provided its most enduring legacy. Russell Crowe, who headlined that summer’s Oscar winner Gladiator, originally turned down the part of Wolverine. Dougray Scott was then cast in the role, but had to drop out when his role as the villain in Mission: Impossible II (also out that summer) prevented him from filming. So it was the unknown Hugh Jackman who donned the claws. He would go on to make it his signature role as he played Logan/Wolverine in numerous sequels and spin-offs (including three stand-alone projects of wildly divergent qualities).

Let’s back up. Before the 2000 release, X-Men was in development for over a decade and a half. At one point, James Cameron was slated to produce with his then wife Kathryn Bigelow attached to direct. Later on, Robert Rodriguez turned the project down. A gander at the pic’s Wikipedia page is an entertaining read (Mariah Carey was in the mix for Storm at one juncture and Angela Bassett was first choice). X-Men was rushed to make its summer release date 20 years ago today after it was originally intended for Christmas 2000.

That rushed feeling does show on up on screen a little, but the overall end result speaks for itself. What occurred two decades ago is a major mark in the comic book movie renaissance that continues to this day. The franchise has certainly had its ups and downs. X2: X-Men United was the first sequel in 2003 and it is generally considered a high point. Three years later, Brett Ratner took over directorial reigns with The Last Stand and (while a huge hit) the quality took a dip. Matthew Vaughn would reestablish critical kudos in rebooting the series in 2011 with First Class (bringing Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence to the screen playing younger counterparts to key characters). Jackman’s first spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine faced deserved backlash while 2017’s Logan was lauded and landed an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. And a cheeky and R rated offshoot called Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds would dazzle audiences and critics alike. Last summer’s Dark Phoenix didn’t do any dazzling and was another low ebb in the series. Spin-off The New Mutants has seen release date changes that began in 2018 and it’s pretty much a running joke as to whether it will ever come out.

That long road began in 2000 and has shaped the cinematic universe since. And if you had to mark a spot for the comic book landscape today as it stands now on the screen, it started that day.

A Marvel Cinematic Oscar History: Best Actress

Today brings part two of my exploration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the rather astonishing number of actors in the MCU that have received Oscar nominations or won. The total is 110 nominations and 20 wins. I started with the lead performers who received Best Actor nods and victories. If you missed that post, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/04/12/a-marvel-cinematic-oscar-history-best-actor/

We move to Best Actress and the numbers there are bit lower. For Actor, it’s 33 nominations and 6 wins, encompassing 23 total men. For Actress, it’s 11 women who’ve received a tally of 22 nominations and 4 trips to the stage. The reasoning behind this could be simple. It wasn’t until the 22nd MCU pic (last year’s Captain Marvel) where a female received overall top billing. And Captain Marvel herself is among the 4 victorious thespians. I’ll remind you that I am including Marvel’s next two features (Black Widow and The Eternals) in the count.

Let’s break them down by winners first:

Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man’s main squeeze Pepper Potts, won in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love

Natalie Portman, girlfriend to Thor in those first two pics, won in 2010 for Black Swan

Cate Blanchett, nemesis to the Asgard God in Thor: Ragnarok, took the prize in 2013 for Blue Jasmine

Captain Marvel Brie Larson was a gold recipient in 2015 for Room

Here are the 18 nominees:

Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, scored her first leading actress nod last year for Marriage Story

Natalie Portman was additionally nominated in 2016 for Jackie

Glenn Close, who appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, is a four-time nominee in the lead category for 1987’s Fatal Attraction, 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons, 2011’s Albert Nobbs, and 2018’s The Wife

Cate Blanchett received three more nods for 1998’s Elizabeth, 2007 sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and 2015’s Carol

Angela Bassett, mother to Black Panther, was nominated for her portrayal of Tina Turner in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Michelle Pfeiffer, costar of Ant-Man and the Wasp, is a three-time contender for 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons (alongside Close), 1989’s The Fabulous Baker Boys, and 1992’s Love Field

Annette Bening, from Captain Marvel, is also a three-time hopeful for 1999’s American Beauty, 2004’s Being Julia, and 2010’s The Kids Are All Right

Salma Hayek, from the upcoming The Eternals, scored a nomination for 2002’s Frida

Angelina Jolie, also from The Eternals, got a nod for 2008’s Changeling

I’ll have Supporting Actor up in short order!

Bumblebee Movie Review

Steven Spielberg has executive produced all five Transformers movies prior to Bumblebee and he holds that title here. Yet it’s in this prequel/spin-off that his influence feels the most pronounced. In the case of this franchise, that’s a welcome development. Michael Bay’s quintet of loud metal on metal action orgies that began in 2007 are generally nonsensical explosion excuses with occasional jaw dropping moments. Travis Knight, taking over directorial duties, gives Bumblebee a heart and the loudest audio belongs to the terrific 80s soundtrack.

This is a prequel and the happenings occur in 1987, which explains The Smiths, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears providing the tunes. A prologue on the planet Cybertron shows our title character (voiced by Dylan O’Brien) being sent to Earth by Optimus Prime in order to escape death by The Decepticons. He crash lands, of all places, right in the middle of a military training exercise in California where no nonsense Colonel Jack Burns (John Cena) assumes him to be a hostile creature. Bumblebee manages to transform into that iconic 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, but not after being rendered mute when his voice box is disabled. By the way, this all happens in like ten minutes. Pacing is not an issue in this picture, unlike other bloated Transformers flicks.

That Beetle ends up in a junkyard frequented by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a gear head who’s just turned 18. It’s her storyline that brings the Spielberg vibes front and center. She’s experienced parental loss as her beloved father has passed. She’s an outcast in the suburbs. Charlie has an awkward pending romance with her neighbor (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). There’s also a resistance to diving (even though she’s a terrific diver) that we correctly assume will figure into the plot. She also works at a low rent amusement park that looks straight outta Adventureland. When she commandeers the Volkswagen, she discovers the giant yellow extraterrestrial and befriends him. Their relationship is quite E.T. like, if that alien had tires strapped to his back and communicated through radio waves playing Steve Winwood.

Knight, maker of the acclaimed Kubo and the Two Strings, is making a Transformers experience that could have been made in the 80s. And it mostly works. There’s only so much he can do with the fight scenes after the Decepticons (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) track Bumblebee to this planet. The tech team here manages to make them easier to follow than Bay’s mashups. So when Colonel Burns and other dumber than they should be government types get involved in the plot, I found myself actually caring a bit. That’s due to screenwriter Christina Hodson’s establishment of Charlie as a full fledged character and Steinfeld’s work elevating her. Her charming interaction with Bee is enough to warrant something the Transformers epics don’t get and that’s a recommendation.

*** (out of four)

Avengers: Endgame Movie Review

**There’s really no way to write a review of Avengers: Endgame without some minor spoilers. You may wish to read this post viewing…

The word “epic” can be overused by those who review movies like me, but it unquestionably applies to Avengers: Endgame. It’s epic in its running time (none of the other 21 MCU pics run three hours) and epic in the number of well-known thespians reprising their superhero and villain characters. It doesn’t seem feasible that so many characters could manage to coexist in this vast universe without seeming like a gimmick. If you happen to think predecessor Infinity War was overcrowded, you’ll get whiplash here. Truth be told, there are moments when this borders on playing like a greatest hits reel based on what’s preceded it during the last eleven years.

Yet Endgame figures out a rewarding way to stick the landing and honor the dozens of faces that we’ve spent billions of dollars visiting since 2008. At the conclusion of Infinity War, bad guy Thanos (Josh Brolin) had collected his precious Infinity Stones and decimated half the intergalactic population into dramatic looking dust particles. What’s left is mostly the core of the OG Avengers – Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). There’s others as Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) is the sole surviving Guardian of the Galaxy. And we have the two notable characters that were MIA last summer – Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).

One might think this whole saga might be about the original band and some newer friends taking on Thanos. You would be wrong. Endgame has plenty of time bending tricks up its endless story arch sleeves. The first is an unexpected resolution that comes very early. However, that climax is just a set-up to further complications.

This is indeed a time travel movie in which the screenwriters almost sheepishly concede the contrived nature of such a device. The survivors set upon a course of multiple back in time ways to retrieve the Stones and bring back their loved ones. It doesn’t happen overnight and the lengthy nature of the plan coming together provides funny and poignant moments. Tony is off the grid with his beloved Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and a new addition. Bruce is in full Hulk mode, but kindler and gentler. Thor is rounder and drunkenly grappling with his losses. Hawkeye is a full-blown vigilante. When the gang revs up their figurative DeLoreans, it gives us a chance to revisit lots of MCU personnel. And it’s a LOT of former players. Some are genuinely surprising. During this lengthy stretch, the film walks a fine line of not devolving into nostalgic sugar shock amidst the action sequences. By the final act, it rises above it.

We know the battle scenes will be well choreographed and well-directed (with the Russo Brothers handling duties once again). The final one is rather jaw dropping with the mixing of so many known quantities. Thanos is one of the stronger villains in MCU history and he remains so here, though there’s nothing fresh to add about his character. His daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan), on the other hand, continues her evolution as a fine addition to the roster.

The comic relief comes more from Thor as opposed to Ant-Man or Rocket and Hemsworth is up to the task. Captain America and Black Widow are given their emotional moments that we’re invested in from their backstories. To this writer, it’s Tony who’s always been the damaged beating heart of this franchise. The Marvel Cinematic Universe simply wouldn’t exist as it is without Downey Jr.’s brilliant work. That’s never changed. The quality of the movies he’s appeared in has. His performance has always been fantastic. If we’re ranking, I would put Endgame as an overall experience just under the first Avengers in 2012 and Infinity War. I can’t promise that thinking about all the shifting time plot points might raise as many questions as answers. I won’t deny that its emotional payoff is real and we have Downey and an amazing group of technicians bringing these comics to life to thank for it.

***1/2 (out of four)

2018: The Year of Ryan Coogler

To kick off my series on the people that made significant contributions in cinema for 2018, the first post is the easiest to choose from. In a year filled with many successful tales, Black Panther is undoubtedly THE story. The Marvel Cinematic Universe saga took a superhero not nearly as known as others and the result was a surprising and smashing record breaker.

The man behind it is Ryan Coogler. A 32-year-old Oakland native, Coogler made his directorial debut with 2013’s acclaimed Fruitvale Station. Two years later, he invigorated another franchise with Creed. And in February of this year, Panther was unleashed worldwide. With Chadwick Boseman in the title role, Michael B. Jordan as one of the MCU’s most memorable villains, and Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright providing dynamic support, the film immediately struck a chord with moviegoers and critics. With a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score, Panther took in $700 million domestically at the box office.

Let us count the records, shall we? That’s the top hit of the year. It’s the third biggest domestic grosser of all time behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar. Obviously, that designation means it’s Marvel’s #1 earner. One year ago, if anyone had told you this would make more than Avengers: Infinity War (which followed a few weeks later), you wouldn’t have believed it.

For Coogler, he’s made the biggest comic book adaptation ever in a century filled with them. The sky is the limit for him as he’s likely being offered every tent pole project in sight. He’s already struck a deal to direct the Panther sequel. Additionally, this stands an excellent chance to be the first pic of its genre to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

In 2018, Coogler made history by making the #1 picture ever directed by an African-American and introduced a hero already beloved by all. He’s an unquestionable entry in the people that mattered onscreen this year.

Best Actress: A Look Back

Back at it again with my look back at major Oscar races from 1990 to the present! We’ve arrived at Best Actress. If you missed my previous posts covering the Supporting performers, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/25/best-supporting-actor-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As I did with those posts, I’m selecting my top 3 least surprising winners and top 3 upsets. I’m also giving you my personal pick for strongest and weakest fields from the past 28 years.

For starters, here’s the list of winners from 1990 to now:

1990 – Kathy Bates, Misery

1991 – Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs

1992 – Emma Thompson, Howards End

1993 – Holly Hunter, The Piano

1994 – Jessica Lange, Blue Sky

1995 – Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking

1996 – Frances McDormand, Fargo

1997 – Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets

1998 – Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry

2000 – Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich

2001 – Halle Berry, Monster’s Ball

2002 – Nicole Kidman, The Hours

2003 – Charlize Theron, Monster

2004 – Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

2006 – Helen Mirren, The Queen

2007 – Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

2008 – Kate Winslet, The Reader

2009 – Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

2010 – Natalie Portman, Black Swan

2011 – Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

2012 – Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

2013 – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2014 – Julianne Moore, Still Alice

2015 – Brie Larson, Room

2016 – Emma Stone, La La Land

2017 – Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

When it comes to Best Actress, I must say it’s probably the race with the least amount of genuine upsets. Nearly every year, there’s a pretty strong front-runner and they win – even more so than in Actor and the Supporting players. Of many non-surprises, here’s my top ones:

3. Holly Hunter, The Piano

Hunter’s work as a mute piano player in Jane Campion’s period piece was the clear favorite over significant competition that included Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do With It? and the previous year’s winner Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day. 

2. Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars had already received nods for Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman and there was little question that Brockovich would earn Roberts her first and only (so far) trip to the Oscar stage.

1. Charlize Theron, Monster

Theron’s metamorphosis into serial killer Aileen Wuornos swept all precursors. The rest of the field was also fairly weak that year, making her the obvious victor.

And now the “upsets”…

3. Kate Winslet, The Reader

While not a surprise when she won Oscar night, the multi-nominated Winslet was expected for much of the year to get a nod for Revolutionary Road instead. Yet it was this Stephen Daldry drama that was selected instead.

2. Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

This was a two-way contest between Cotillard and veteran Julie Christie for Away from Her, with many believing the latter had the edge. It didn’t turn out that way.

1. Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry and Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

This #1 comes with a caveat. It wasn’t much of an upset by the time Swank won her double Oscars. What’s interesting here is that she single-handedly denied two prime opportunities for the winless Annette Bening to get a statue for American Beauty and Being Julia. 

We move to the fields. For weakest field, I’m selecting 1994 when Jessica Lange won for the little-seen Blue Sky. Other nominees were Jodie Foster in Nell, Miranda Richardson in Tom&Viv, Winona Ryder for Little Women, and Susan Sarandon in The Client. 

Strongest group in my opinion goes to 2010 with Natalie Portman’s victorious role in Black Swan. The rest of that impressive field is Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence’s first nomination in Winter’s Bone, and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

Best Actor is next, folks! Stay tuned…