The long marathon for Oscar is running its last dash. With money and careers at stake—not to mention studio prestige. The wooing has been on for months and we finally had some clarification with the official Oscar nods. Analogous to the primary system in the United States, in which both national parties slowly narrow the field of their official candidates before the official campaigns even begin, Awards Season enters a new phase now. Herewith, then, some this-and-that observations from a veteran watcher, as we count down to February 26!
ACTRESS GRUDGE MATCH
Remember when it seemed like it was a done deal for Natalie Portman? After losing the Golden Globe in her category to French fave Isabelle Huppert, and Emma Stone riding the La La Land momentum, her own brilliant portrayal as Jackie looks less of a lock. With one of the tightest Best Actress categories in years, just consider that Amy Adams, Annette Bening, and Taraji P Henson were snubbed (all of whom you could build a narrative around) and that the marvellous fashion-plate Ruth Negga snuck in - Portman might have to pray that her good-luck baby-bump carries here through. The last time she won her Oscar, for Black Swan? She was preggers then, too!
THAT BOYS’ CLUB
Though The Academy came through on oodles of diversity this year - seven of the acting nominees are people of colour, including, hey, Lion’s Dev Patel, only the third person of Indian descent to ever be up for an Oscar! - the directors' box, on the other hand, has more than a few raising brows. An all-male line-up, it’s been seven whole years since a woman was nominated for Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow, for Zero Dark Thirty, ahem.
BRAD, BRAD, BRAD
Mr. Pitt got nom’ed, did you know? As one of the producers of the movie Moonlight - which bagged 8 nominations, including Best Picture - expect at least this half of the IPO once known as Brangelina to be at the Awards! Having spent several years now expending his star wattage on movies powered with diversity - Pitt also produced 12 years A Slave - he hones his position as a primo power-player behind the scenes. Did we mention that the 53-year-old has been radiating a peak-Pitt aura lately?
QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
Not bad for 11 minuets of screen time! That’s the tick-tock on Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea, for which - incidentally - she just received her fourth Oscar nom! On the bright side: there is a precedent for this sort of thing, with the likes of Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Judi Dench all clutching statuettes for similar performances (12 minutes, 15 minutes, and eight minutes, respectively!) More of a factor, though? Michelle is up against the magnificent Viola Davis, who’s as much of an Oscar sure thing as anybody this year.
In the role of Eddie Redmayne, this year, meanwhile, we have Andrew Garfield, who’s been giving aw-shucks charm and adorable hair all throughout Awards Season. Not surprisingly, the Hacksaw Ridge star landed a nom - as did, well...his singing, dancing erstwhile girlfriend, Emma Stone. Can a red-carpet collision be on the way? My advice to Garfield: just play it cool like Warren Beatty. With that megastar having dated basically everyone in Hollywood - from Jane Fonda to Diane Keaton to Cher to Madonna - there’s probably not anywhere he goes without running into an ex!