Rooney Mara (Carol) still rules the roost in the Best Actress race and Kate Winslet weathers the storm of Steve Jobs‘ plummeting Oscar stock by holding onto 2nd place. Alicia Vikander is also still going strong on her reviews for The Danish Girl, which are better than her Academy Award-winning co-star Eddie Redmayne.
But what about Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight? The film screened a rough cut recently (with AW members present) to good response but word on Leigh was a bit mixed. She’s the only female in the ensemble, which bodes well and she has (depending on who you talk to) the 2nd or 3rd most screen time. I’ve always found it baffling that Leigh has never gotten an Oscar nomination in her nearly 35-year film career. She’s gotten close: she won praise (and a few critics awards) for her searing turn as a prostitute in Last Exit to Brooklyn and a Golden Globe nomination for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, playing one of the world’s greatest wordsmiths, Dorothy Parker. She watched as her co-star Mare Winningham got an Oscar nomination for Georgia, despite Leigh having the titular (and more Oscar-y) role. Leigh has always been an actress to take great risks with her work and The Hateful Eight seems to be no exception. Word is, Tarantino’s love of the n-word hits new heights with the film and with Leigh having the lion’s share of it. I sort of feel that will work against her rather than for her. As I mentioned on a recent Oscar Poker podcast, a lot has changed in the U.S. since Tarantino’s last film Django Unchained; Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, things that have put race and race relations in a light that he and his film might not be ready for. Although, it seems Tarantino might be aware of it after all; he recently attended an anti-police brutality rally in New York City over the multitude of police on black citizen violence that have covered the airwaves. Not saying it isn’t genuine, but it is well-timed.
Elsewhere on the list is a lot of…Joy. No less than three ladies from the Gold Rush Gang Best Picture frontrunner received a mention for this month with Diane Ladd out in front again. Granted, her numbers have fallen a bit. After the recent screenings, word came in that Ladd might not have the screen time to secure a nomination and that Isabella Rossellini has the juicier role that could earn her her first nomination. Yet another co-star, Elisabeth Röhm is also in the mix. But Ladd, no stranger to working hard for a nomination, could have the strength and support of her family behind her to boost her chances. Daughter Laura Dern was nominated for Wild this year and ex-husband Bruce Dern was nominated the year before (after intense campaigning by Laura) so this is an Oscar family not to be reckoned with.
We’re not counting out Jane Fonda for her campy, crazy 5-minute cameo in Youth either. She’s been campaigning like crazy; for herself and for others. I don’t need to remind you that Fonda sang the praises of Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night last season and look how that turned out. P.S. this year she’s turned her sights onto Brie Larson. It will be interesting to see how much good will Fonda has procured over the year (especially since she never been able to shake the Hanoi Jane moniker for over 40 years) but she will be a formidable candidate, to be sure.
Not making the list, but on our radar are Joan Allen in Room (could coattail on Best Actress nominee), Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy (lots of buzz and industry support, apparently), Rachel McAdams in Spotlight (sole female in a supporting ensemble of a likely BP nominee), Laura Linney in Mr. Holmes (previous nominee could coattail on Ian McKellen if he makes it) and Julia Roberts in Secret in Their Eyes (previous winner and multi-nominee). Some pundits think previous nominee Julie Walters (Brooklyn) can manage a spot if the film is a major player. Truth is, any one of these actresses could benefit from a faulty campaign or disappearing buzz from another film in the coming months when critics and industry awards start rolling in. Off the list, however, with very little to no chance of returning is Ellen Page in Freeheld and Helena Bonham Carter in Suffragette.
Don’t forget, you can always get up to the minute Oscar predictions from the Gold Rush Gang on all of our 2016 Oscar Prediction Charts:
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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST SOUND EDITING
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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS