It’s that time of year! The time where we play ‘Who Will Be Snubbed at the Oscars Despite Hitting Every Precursor?’ It’s happening more and more and not just to first-timers or newbies but to established, Oscar-winning actors and actresses. Witness Tom Hank (Captain Phillips) and Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) last year. Daniel Brühl (Rush) stumbled right at the finish line as well. And Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Marion Cotillard (Rust & Bone) before that.
This year gives us a wealth of possibilities with previous nominees (Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Keira Knightley and Edward Norton), a host of newbies (Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones, J.K. Simmons, Patricia Arquette, Michael Keaton and Emma Stone) and one previous winner in Reese Witherspoon. So who’s the most vulnerable? It’s probably best to take out the perceived frontrunners in their respective categories and that would be Arquette, Simmons, Moore and Redmayne OR Keaton. Best Actor is still a bit up in the air so maybe no one is truly safe there. From what we’ve seen in the recent past the eventual snubees can come from a film that doesn’t end up performing as well as we thought it would overall (Hanks) or are the likely sole nomination for their film (Swinton, Cotillard) or someone that simply can’t compete with Meryl Streep and her 281 previous nominations (Thompson). As always, it boils down to passion. Who has it and who doesn’t. Many think that Gyllenhaal is the most vulnerable of this group. They’ve been saying that each time he gets a nomination somewhere and their case is getting threadbare. He’s in a film that has been consistently over-performing (Nightcrawler just netted BAFTA noms for Editing, Original Screenplay and Rene Russo in Supporting Actress) and, to me, he feels solid. Not just because I’m a notoriously huge Gyllenhaal fanboy, either. Quite the contrary, I didn’t buy into him getting to the Oscars until today, with BAFTA. He’s in an extraordinary position now.
Looking at the list it seems that if anyone is going to be left off next Thursday morning that it’s likely to be a newbie. Emma Stone feels just too loved by the industry and her Oscar nomination announcement with Seth McFarlane for the 85th Academy Awards was a highlight of the Oscar season. Foxcatcher is an interesting animal as it’s been a yo-yo this season. Ruffalo feels safe but a general passionless campaign might do him in. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) finally managed another BAFTA nom and she seems a strong bet but her category seems ripe for an upset in the form of a Laura Dern or Jessica Chastain. Knightley’s counterpart, Benedict Cumberbatch, should be safe as the lead in a likely Oscar top 5 film but its director, Morten Tyldum, keeps missing out on nominations himself (no Globe, BFCA or BAFTA) and that can speak to the strength of the film itself. He could very well be the high-profile snub of the day, especially if we see Gyllenhaal and BAFTA nominee Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) make a late in the game sprint to the finish line.
Let’s take a look at Reese Witherspoon in Wild. As the only previous winner of this entire group that puts her in a unique position; she’s either super safe or she’s the first to go. Even though she’s hit everything and even managed a few 2nd and 3rd tier critics nominations and wins, where is the passion? Where is the buzz? Not to mention her inability to bring Laura Dern with her on any of these precursors. She appears weak to me and if the Best Actress category wasn’t such a wasteland I’d be predicting her in a hot minute. But AMPAS is going to struggle to fill this category so she feels safe. Unless some combination of Jennifer Aniston (SAG/GG/BFCA), Amy Adams (BAFTA/GG) or Marion Cotillard (no precursors but a ton of critics wins) manage to break in, Witherspoon should be ok. Then there’s Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything. She’s hit everything and is in a film that is over-performing and probably will on Oscar nomination morning. She seems a safe bet too but do people know her or care about her? It could be Bye, Felicity on Oscar nomination morning if she suffers from lack of name recognition.
So, who do you think is getting snubbed on Oscar morning?
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