With apologies to some very prestigious organizations who have already announced their 2013 awards winners, the season really moved into full swing the last couple days with the nomination announcements from the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Although both the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes differ categorically from the Academy Awards in some key spots, as noted by our own James Tisch, both are traditionally important checkpoints on the way to Oscar gold.
Among the biggest surprises has to be Bruce Dern’s nomination in both lists. While reviews of Dern’s performance in Nebraska have been glowing since the film’s debut at Cannes last May, there had been some hullabaloo concerning the decision to list Dern in the Best Actor category rather than as a Supporting Actor in the quasi-ensemble picture. The fact that he made the SAG list is doubly surprising when you consider the depth in the Best Actor category this year. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Robert Redford (All is Lost), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), and Joaquin Phoenix (Her) have generally been considered front runners so far, with Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), and possibly the heretofore unseen Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) the dark horse candidates.
Which makes another Best Actor choice on both lists a bit of a surprise: Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips). Although Hanks’s portrayal of the captain-under-siege in Paul Greengrass’s movie has received its share of praise, both the political toxicity of choosing Hanks (several crew members from the real-life Maersk Alabama have spoken out against the voracity of Phillips’s supposed heroism as portrayed in the film) and the presence of several less than glowing reviews of the film as a whole seemed to make Hanks a long shot. Personally, I doubt whether he’ll win either award or even end up among the Academy’s nominees, but the inclusion means he’s going to be worth a second look for many.
As far as supporting actors go, SAG and the HFPA came up with nearly identical lists, James Gandolfini (Enough Said) being substituted for Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) on the SAG noms. Daniel Bruhl is the clear beneficiary of Rush‘s dual protagonist structure, sliding into the Supporting category despite the fact that his role was nearly as large as Chris Hemsworth’s. Which is not to diminish its quality in the least. We spoke to someone at Cross Creek Pictures (which produced Rush) shortly after the film’s release and were told that they were considering what kind of push to put behind Bruhl’s candidacy this awards season. He seems like the most likely of any of the nominees to swoop in late, but if you’re inclined to listen to the pundits, this race would seem to come down to two men: Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club).
Turning to the women, I’m going to be shocked if Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t rake in the accolades this year for her role in American Hustle. Like the mens category, nominations for Supporting Actress have but a single discrepancy, but Lawrence has the positive public mojo to go along with a stellar performance. It seems quite a bit has been made of the supposed Oprah snub by the HFPA, but while the media maven certainly turned in a quality performance on The Butler, it seems to me her character was too secondary to the core story the film was telling to get too upset at the lack of inclusion. It will be very interesting to see if she makes the Academy’s list or not.
The Best Actress category looks far more competitive, and I’ll bet the SAG list is perfectly reflective of the eventual Oscar nominees. Sandra Bullock certainly seems to have the early lead, but Cate Blanchett is a threat, and a strong showing by August: Osage County this Christmas could tip the scales in favor of Meryl Streep.
One of the finest head to head matchups that will be featured in the Golden Globes, though won’t be repeated at the Academy Awards because France somehow didn’t nominate the Cannes champ, is the battle between Blue is the Warmest Color and the final film from Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises. Both films have seen their share of controversy, and there’s no guarantee that they top the other nominees, but particularly given the Golden Globes’ voters, this might be one of the more hotly contested categories.
And finally, a musing on the at times inane categorization imposed by the Golden Globes themselves: how on earth did Philomena end up in the Drama category? At the end of the day, it’s really neither here nor there, but my goodness. All you have to do is look at the trailer to know it’s trying for the laughs. Maybe the world just needs more musicals.
The Golden Globes will take place January 12, 2014, with the Screen Actors Guild Awards following on January 18. Sandwiched between the two will be the announcement of the Academy Awards nominations on January 16. Mxdwn Movies will be carrying up-to-the-minute coverage of each of these events, so be sure to check us here for all the news and reactions and follow our live coverage on Twitter (@mxdwnMovies).