MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar: 20 Weeks To Go

Oh, the lists are flying fast & furious now. It’s open season again. Many possibilities.

In honor of everyone and their brothers (all absolute experts, make no mistake), I will throw some stuff at the wall today, as we are now 20 Weeks To Oscar.


Here are four movies that are going to be nominated, barring major screw-ups by the distributors/consultants (in alphabetical order):

The Martian
Steve Jobs

Here are eight much talked about titles that are now dead for a Best Picture nomination:

Black Mass
I Saw The Light
Our Brand Is Crisis
The Walk

Here are the three films left to be seen with a serious shot at being nominated for Best Picture:

The Hateful Eight
The Revenant

Here is the crowd of movies that have been sufficiently well-received (or are still anticipated to be so) to get nominated, have distributor support (meaning will AND money), but will have to wade through the crowd to find a place at the big table:

Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
In The Heart of the Sea
Inside Out

And here are your longshots for a Best Picture nomination for a wide number of reasons, from minimal theatrical alongside Netflix, to commercial aversion to minimal award budgets:

Beasts of No Nation
By The Sea
45 Years
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mr. Holmes
Star Wars: Episode 7
Straight Outta Compton


The Actress race is pretty hot, if tight, this season.

Brie Larson is in.

She is also the only female lead in any of the films I see as locks for Best Picture nods. (You could argue Kate Winslet is co-lead… but I wouldn’t.)

After that, you have Emily Blunt, Cate Blanchett, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander (who will probably go supporting), Charlotte Rampling and Lily Tomlin.

Unless Angelina Jolie is great in By The Sea, there are no real surprises left in this category. Blythe Danner, Helen Mirren, and Maggie Smith have faint glimmers. Dame Maggie is not traveling and while Danner is being pushed to fight for it, it’s a tough get, though people really like the performance, as well as the veteran actress herself. Mirren’s movie was popular, but not well loved.

So assuming no Vikander, it’s one lock and seven chasing four spots. Hard to be against Jenn Lawrence. Rampling and Tomlin are chasing the same slot… so pick one of those two. After that, I’d go Saoirse and Blunt at this point.

I don’t believe that anyone is being nominated for anything from Truth. And the Weinstein Company has a lot of work to do to get Carol where is should be… they aren’t close at this point… only media seems sold.


Actor, anyone?

Fassbender in. Redmayne in.

After that, it looks kinda like the women, except we are waiting on more films to land. DiCaprio in The Revenant, Will Smith in Concussion, even Michael B. Jordan in Creed. Is there a lead in The Hateful Eight? We’ll know when they show the film.

Your list of nominees could be full right there. But there are others who require serious consideration.

Michael Caine is ripe for love. Matt Damon leads what will be the most commercial film of the season. Ian McKellen is more than due and could take the rug out from under Caine. Bryan Cranston is brilliant in the third act of Trumbo, though voters may have tuned out by then. And of course, big dogs Hanks and Depp are always a threat.

There are many other excellent performances this year… but they aren’t getting in. Sorry. Jake Gyllenhaal is still due… but the taint is on the movie even if it is undeserved.


Supporting Actress is a great category with a surprisingly thin realistic field.

Winslet is in. That’s about it.

Rooney Mara is highly likely for Carol, but TWC – again – needs to get on the horse. She is really the lead of the movie and she does the best work of her short career with the best character she has had to play. But this is not a lock… this could be lost for lack of attention.

Vikander is highly likely for The Danish Girl, but she was better and more decisive in Ex Machina. (She is one of the great emotive actresses of her generation and will be back to the Oscars many, many times if she wants to be. This is not her greatest performance… but it will still get in without a ton of muscular competition.)

Then, the fight. I’d love to see Jennifer Jason Leigh get honored. But we can’t know until we see the film. Fonda is brilliant in her 2.5 minutes of Youth… but if the movie doesn’t heat up a lot – like Best Picture possibility hot – it won’t matter. Elizabeth Banks is excellent in Love & Mercy, but if she gets nominated, the rest of her resume will be her conveyance… she is having an iconic year and many will want to celebrate all that is her. Joan Allen is excellent in Room, but the movie will have to take her to the holy land… she is missing the money scene… but it could well happen.

Spotlight is going to get a lot of heat, but I don’t think there will be enough for Rachel McAdams to ride that wave… especially because she won’t ride the wave.

We haven’t seen Joy, so we don’t know if one – or two – of the supporting actresses take slots. Could Gugu Mbatha-Raw get love? Possible… seems like a longshot in a movie that seems like it might be a challenge for Academy voters.


Supporting Actor

Pick two Spotlight actors… they’re in.

Mark Rylance owns Bridge of Spies. The movie feels limp and hungry for his presence when he isn’t around. In.

Benicio del Toro seems undeniable… and he is working for it… but Sicario is one of those movies that is hard for old people. I want to believe he is in. But not fully confident.

Then we start guessing.

Paul Dano. Harvey Keitel in Youth.

One of the unseens like Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. Idris Elba. Tom Hardy in The Revenant. Someone (multiple someones?) from The Hateful Eight?

I’d love to see Forrest Whitaker for Southpaw or Michael Shannon for 99 Homes… but those are beyond long shots. Michael Stuhlbarg in Steve Jobs… Giamatti in either bad guy authoritarian role. Uphill fights for great character actors.


And finally, for this exercise… Best Director.

Danny Boyle and Tom McCarthy, in.

Ridley Scott and George Miller are out ahead early, but could well be pushed aside. Scott is the more likely.

We haven’t seen the Tarantino, the Iñárritu or the Russell. One, two or all could easily be undeniable.

Spielberg is Spielberg… which doesn’t assure him a nomination.

Honestly, I think your five is in this group.

Lenny Abrahamson, Todd Haynes, John Crowley, and Paolo Sorrentino are the arty longhots. Wouldn’t be a profound shock if one of their films caught fire enough to get them in.

And that is the field as I see it, this day, October 15, 2015, 137 days until the Oscar ceremony, or roughly, 20 weeks to Oscar.

Be Sociable, Share!

8 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar: 20 Weeks To Go”

  1. theschu says:

    No mention of The Big Short which was just given a December date a few weeks ago.

  2. movielocke says:

    Asking again:

    How does inside out get enough number ones to avoid being eliminated in the first round? Especially as they are splitting Disney Pixar votes with the good dinosaur being released in november.

    Star wars is going to be the most popular screening in the below the line guilds. Who wouldn’t want to hear a panel on the sound or editors or costume etc etc on the ultimate dream job? If the movie is good I could see the below the line portion of the academy pushing it over the edge.

  3. benutty says:

    Most of these “in” comments are laughable. Two Spotlight supporting actors? Room is not IN. Wait until it fizzles at the box office and barely makes half of the critics top 10s. Carol is being wildly underestimated–I don’t care what anyone hears or knows about how slowly TWC is acting on it… critics that matter love it and it’ll be all over the precursors. Pundits will come around late, as usual.

  4. Pete says:

    Spielberg is out. His direction is pedestrian in Bridge of Spies. Not an original scene in the movie. The script does not help.

    In supporting actress, Kristen Stewart should be in the mix.

  5. KMS says:


  6. Daniella Isaacs says:

    When will Todd Haynes finally learn his lesson that Harvey Weinstein is not his friend. He screwed up on the release of VELVET GOLDMINE, so much so that Todd went elsewhere with FAR FROM HEAVEN, a fact that so enraged Weinstein that he vowed to do whatever he could to *keep* it from winning Oscars for Focus Features. (This isn’t a rumor. Weinstein’s temper tantrum and threat were covered in the media at the time.) He then gets I’M NOT THERE somehow and works hard for his friend Cate Blanchett to get a nomination, but could easily have pushed that film over the top in terms of nods for its screenplay and cinematography (maybe even direction), but he didn’t bother. Now he’s dragging his feet on CAROL. Sigh.

  7. Stephen Holt says:

    I don’t know why all this quietness about “Carol”? Wasn’t at Toronto. It’s hardly being screened. What up Weinsteins?

  8. jenna says:

    No DeNiro for Supp. Actor?

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon