Oscar Watch: Freeheld

While the Cannes, Venice, and Telluride film festivals were successful in showcasing a number of Oscar hopefuls including Carol, The Danish Girl, Steve Jobs, and Spotlight, among others – this year’s in progress Toronto Film Festival has already premiered several titles that have seen their awards hope dim.

One is Freeheld, a domestic partnership drama starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, and Michael Shannon. Directed by Peter Sollett and based on a 2007 documentary, this was looked at as a potential contender in several categories before it screened up north. Reviews have been very mixed and any chance it had at a Picture nod seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Still, it’s a little naive to completely count Moore in Best Actress out and her performance has received solid notices. Yet as mentioned in previous Oscar watch posts, that race is looking very crowded already with Cate Blanchett in Carol, possibly Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl (though she could be recognized instead in Supporting), Carey Mulligan in Suffragette, Brie Larson in Room, Lily Tomlin in Grandma, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, and the as yet unforeseen work of Jennifer Lawrence in Joy. In other words, the competition could crowd Moore out and Academy voters may be OK with that considering she won just last year for her work in Still Alice. She remains a possibility, however, and can’t be totally discounted. As for other performers, Michael Shannon has received positive word of mouth but is a long shot for Supporting Actor.

All in all, Toronto essentially dashed the hopes of Freeheld gaining any major traction in the 2015 awards derby.

2015 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

Today we arrive at the final post in my very early Oscar predictions and that means the biggest category of them all: Best Picture. In 2014, when I did my initial round of predictions for 2014 pics, it correctly called 5 of the 8 eventual nominees. A total of 7 of the 8 were mentioned with two being listed in other possibilities.

Obviously the film festival season (Telluride, Venice, Toronto, New York, etc…) is just getting underway in which many of the contenders will be screened. It won’t be until late November and early December before the majority of the heavy hitters will have their word of mouth. Yet here’s how I see it currently at this early juncture:

Todd Haynes’s period piece same sex love story Carol premiered to raves at Cannes and appears to be a legit contender at press time.

Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl is another period piece about the first transgender individual and features last year’s Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne. Hooper won Best Director in 2010 for The King’s Speech, which was awarded Best Picture. His last effort, Les Miserables, was also nominated.

David O. Russell has seen his last 3 pics nominated for the big prize – The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle. This December’s Joy with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper could join the mix.

Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu won Best Director last year for Birdman, which won Picture as well. His December release The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio is already receiving major buzz.

You can never count out Steven Spielberg and this fall’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies is an obvious choice for consideration.

Same goes for the Danny Boyle directed/Aaron Sorkin scripted biopic Steve Jobs with Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet.

The period piece women’s voting rights tale Suffragette features Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, and Helena Bonham Carter and if solid reviews materialize, you have to put it in the mix.

Quentin Tarantino has seen his last two blockbusters – Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained – receive nominations so you cannot count out December’s The Hateful Eight.

There are other biopics to consider – Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead about iconic musician Miles Davis, I Saw the Light with Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, and Bryan Cranston as Trumbo. 

As for films already released, it’s totally possible that Pixar’s acclaimed Inside Out could give the studio its second Picture nod (after 2009’s Up). And if some of this autumn’s releases don’t meet expectations, don’t be shocked if the summer blockbuster and critical darling Mad Mad: Fury Road starts getting another look.

One feature that I’m a bit surprised to see hardly mentioned in the Oscar talk: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s only the most eagerly anticipated release of the year (in many years actually). If reviews are strong, it could certainly get attention. It remains to be seen though.

As Academy watchers know, anywhere from five to ten movies can be nominated. Ever since the Oscars have gone to that system, nine has been the magic number yet there were eight last year. I’ll go with 8 for now, but that may well fluctuate as future predictions come to the blog. Here we go:


Bridge of Spies


The Danish Girl

The Hateful Eight


The Revenant

Steve Jobs


Other Possibilities:

Black Mass


By the Sea



Inside Out

In the Heart of the Sea

I Saw the Light

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

Miles Ahead



Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Walk


And there you have it, folks! My first batch of Oscar predictions for the year. Expect a second round in October…

2015 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

This evening on the blog, we continue on with my very early and first predictions for the 2015 Oscars and we’ve come to Best Actress. This category, just like Supporting Actor and Actress, yielded two out of the five nominees when I made my predictions in 2014 with 1 other that was nominated being mentioned as an other possibility.

Astonishingly, the group of actresses that could be honored in 2015 encompasses seven out of the eight past winners of the award. 2007 winner Marion Cotillard is getting buzz for Macbeth, though it’s unclear whether she’ll be campaigned for here or in supporting. 2008 winner Kate Winslet has this fall’s The Dressmaker. 2009 winner Sandra Bullock headlines this October’s Our Brand is Crisis. 2011’s Meryl Streep had Ricki and the Flash last month. It’s always foolish to count her out, but the film’s low box office and mixed critical response could hinder her chances. 2012’s Jennifer Lawrence teams with David O. Russell again for Joy and her two previous films with him both landed her Oscar nods and a win for Silver Linings Playbook. 2013’s Cate Blanchett seems practically guaranteed a nod for Todd Haynes’s Carol, which premiered to raves at Cannes. 2014’s Julianne Moore has Freeheld out soon and it could make her a contender again.

Ultimately, however, my early predictions only have two of these women ending up with nominations. Alicia Vikander (who made a splash already this year with Ex Machina) is bound to get attention for Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. Carey Mulligan stars in the womens voting rights drama Suffragette. Saoirse Ronan has already gotten raves on the festival circuit for this autumn’s immigration tale Brooklyn.

More possibilities abound. Veteran comedian/actress Lily Tomlin is being praised for the indie pic Grandma. Emily Blunt stars in the action drama Sicario this September. Angelina Jolie directs and stars in By the Sea. And we can’t count out Charlize Theron in this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road, even though it’s difficult for the action genre to give us acting nominees. It is worth noting that it happened with Sigourney Weaver nearly 30 years ago with Aliens.

This race looks to be one of the most competitive with a whole lot of huge stars going for the prize. And here’s my first take:


Cate Blanchett, Carol

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy 

Carey Mulligan, Suffragette

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl


Other Possibilities:

Emily Blunt, Sicario

Sandra Bullock, Our Brand is Crisis

Marion Cotillard, Macbeth

Angelina Jolie, By the Sea

Julianne Moore, Freeheld

Meryl Streep, Ricki and the Flash

Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Lily Tomlin, Grandma

Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker 

For my previous posts with early predictions on Supporting Actor and Actress, click here:



2015 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Continuing on with part two of my impossibly early Oscar predictions for 2015, we move to Best Supporting Actor. As I mentioned in the previous Supporting Actress piece, the predictions that I did at this time of the year in 2014 yielded two out of the five eventual nominees. Same goes for Supporting Actor last year, though it’s worth noting that last year in early September – I mentioned all five eventual nominees in the predicted or other possibilities category.

Unlike Supporting Actress, where Rooney Mara seems to be a shoo in for a nod in Carol, there are no obvious nominees in this category as of yet. One thing seems very possible – Quentin Tarantino has a knack for getting his supporting players attention and that may bode well for either Kurt Russell or Samuel L. Jackson. Right now, I’ll give Russell the edge.

David O. Russell is also known for his performers receiving Academy love and his December release Joy could mean nods for either Bradley Cooper or Robert De Niro. We’ll go with Mr. Cooper at press time.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant could garner plenty of attention and Tom Hardy could benefit from it in this category. It doesn’t hurt that he’s had a terrific year coming off the acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Cannes Film Festival brought forth raves for the indie drama Youth and Harvey Keitel’s work in it while this fall’s Steven Spielberg drama Bridge of Spies seems to have a major supporting role for character actor Mark Rylance.

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs may mean nods for either Jeff Daniels or Seth Rogen. The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy has both John Cusack and Paul Dano (depending on who the studio puts in which category). The Catholic Church sex scandal drama Spotlight has Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. Past winner Benicio del Toro is said to be a standout in this September’s Sicario. And on and on.

In other words, lots of possibilities here and we shall see how it shakes out. For now:


Bradley Cooper, Joy

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Harvey Keitel, Youth

Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Other Possibilities:

Steve Carell, Freeheld

John Cusack, Love and Mercy

Jeff Daniels, Steve Jobs

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy

Benicio del Toro, Sicario

Robert De Niro, Joy

Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

Michael Keaton, Spotlight

Jude Law, Genius

Ewan McGregor, Miles Ahead

Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Billy Bob Thornton, Our Brand is Crisis

And that’ll do it for now! Best Actress coming up tomorrow…

You can peruse my Supporting Actress early picks here:



2015 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

It’s hard to believe but we are two thirds of the way through the calendar year and that means my first round of incredibly early Oscar predictions are making their way to the blog! Some caveats: it’s early. Real early. Truth be told, most of the main contenders in all the major categories will be rolling out in the fall. Many will be screening at the upcoming film fests like Toronto and New York, among others. As always, those festivals will help the picture become clearer over the next couple of months. Usually by Thanksgiving or early December, we’ve got a pretty good idea on how things are looking.

That said, I started my predictions for 2014 at the same time last year. In the Supporting Actress race, which I’m covering today, my impossibly early predictions yielded two of the five eventual nominees, Laura Dern for Wild and winner Patricia Arquette in Boyhood. It’s also worth noting that I predicted Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, who was nominated in the Lead Actress category. Let’s talk about how things look right now:


Already we seem to have one performer who appears to be a shoo in for a nod: Rooney Mara for Todd Haynes’s 1950s set lesbian romance Carol, which premiered to raves at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this summer. It would be very shocking not to see Mara included, unless she’s campaigned for in the Actress race. That seems unlikely because the studio should be putting her costar Cate Blanchett in that race.

After that – much uncertainty. The Irish immigration drama Brooklyn hit the festival circuit to a rapturous response and that could bode well for Julie Walters. Director Quentin Tarantino knows how to get his actors nominated which could mean a nom for The Hateful Eight’s Jennifer Jason Leigh. Director David O. Russell is exceptional at seeing his performers gets nods and his December release Joy could see kudos for either Virginia Madsen or Diane Ladd (I’m leaving both off, for now).

Elizabeth Olsen has had some critically applauded roles and her performance as Hank Williams’ wife in the biopic I Saw the Light could garner attention. So could Kate Winslet in the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic.

The rest of the large field is filled with familiar names and some not. Remember the name Emayatzy Corinealdi for her work in the Don Cheadle/Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead. And we have previous winners like Blanchett, Jane Fonda, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Rachel Weisz in the mix.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Elizabeth Olsen, I Saw the Light

Julie Walters, Brooklyn

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs


Other Possibilities:

Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy

Cate Blanchett, Truth

Helena Bonham Carter,  Suffragette

Jessica Chastain, The Martian

Emayatzy Corinealdi, Miles Ahead

Marion Cotillard, Macbeth

Ann Dowd, Our Brand is Crisis

Jane Fonda, Youth

Nicole Kidman, Genius

Diane Ladd, Joy

Melanie Laurent, By the Sea

Laura Linney, Genius

Virginia Madsen, Joy

Helen Mirren, Trumbo

Ellen Page, Freeheld

Julia Roberts, The Secret in their Eyes

Amy Ryan, Bridge of Spies

Meryl Streep, Suffragette

Rachel Weisz, Youth

And there’s part one of my early Oscar picks. Supporting Actor coming your way tomorrow…