Robert De Niro (Joy) continues his pretty comfortable lead on his nearest competitor, Tom Hardy (The Revenant) and actually increases a bit. De Niro is starting to feel like a winner even before a trailer or production still from Joy has been released (watch for the trailer to drop next week). Strange, right? The thing is, even though De Niro is a two-time Oscar winner it’s been a whopping 35 years since his last win (Raging Bull in 1981). That eclipses Meryl Streep’s gap between wins (Sophie’s Choice to The Iron Lady) and The Weinstein Company used a pretty effective campaign focusing on how long it had been since she had won to get her that Oscar. The same type of campaign could be given to De Niro by 20th Century Fox if they’re shrewd enough. De Niro is often regarded as one of the best actors of all time (as Streep is always called) so watch for this. I’ll add that since the Screen Actors Guild only began giving out awards in 1995 that De Niro has never won one there. It’s very likely he was in a close 2nd place for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013 and that group loves to reward their veterans so it could be the beginning of the awards avalanche for him.
Tom Hardy’s 2nd place standing is still pretty secure and should be as he’s having a good year with the box office success of Mad Max: Fury Road and his fall release, Legend, could be a Best Actor push for him. Samuel L. Jackson moves up to 3rd place and seems the most likely nominee from Quentin Tarantino’s ensemble The Hateful Eight, coming out this Christmas. Tarantino has a strong track record for acting nominations, especially in this category. Jackson’s first and only nomination was for a Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction, so a return seems in order. Sicario‘s Benicio del Toro also moves up a bit, to 4th. Entering the top 5 this month is Harvey Keitel in Youth. Although support for the film post-Cannes has been strong it seems like it might be wavering a bit. It still seems like it could be Fox Searchlight’s #1 this year, but we won’t really know for another few months if that’s the case. He actually bumps Idris Elba down to 6th but with news that Beasts of No Nation is getting an October 16th theatrical release from Netflix I expect him to jump back into the top 3 for next month’s results.
I’m keeping a close eye on Seth Rogen in Steve Jobs to possibly gain some traction in the next month. Both of his co-stars, Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, made big jumps this month in their respective categories and it’s quite possible that Rogen could right a wave right to the Dolby with them if the film is successful. Sony Pictures Classics chief Tom Bernard recently commented that they’re will be a push for Robert Redford in supporting for Truth and we’re taking that seriously. SPC are major players and know how to run a strong campaign.