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Leonardo DiCaprio and Amy Adams – Their Fate in the Balance

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When both Amy Adams and Leonardo DiCaprio won at this past weekend’s Golden Globe awards it looked like they might have momentum to get into the Oscar race.  Their Globes wins, plus their BAFTA nominations make this seem very likely indeed.  It is going to depend on how much the Academy “liked” August: Osage County’s Meryl Streep, and how much they “liked” The Wolf of Wall Street.  The Academy is not known for having a tough stomach of late. They used to be bolder a few generations back, but now Martin Scorsese gets taken to task for being the most daring filmmaker in 2014, at 71 years old.   You’d think they would tip their hat to the guy instead of acting so horrified. You’d think they’d never nominated A Clockwork Orange or something.  Remember when Dr. Strangelove was a Best Picture contender?

Oh for a taste of the good old days when Best Picture didn’t mean the one your grandparents could tolerate.

To get in Amy Adams is going to have to bump one of the solid five – and it looks as though Meryl Streep might be that fifth slot to get the bumped. No, it would have nothing to do with the “controversy” at the National Board of Review, but only to do, very likely, with Streep being the most nominated actress (or actor) of all time, plus her recent win. Voters might feel as though she’s been lauded enough.  Deserves got nothing to do with it.  Adams, by contrast, is on the upward climb towards her first win and pulled it out for American Hustle. She has the sex thing working in her favor and, if nominated, would be the only one of the five who does.  We know our Oscar voters.  No little blue pill needed when a woman is having lots of sex, as Adams does in Hustle, and baring her body with youthful abandon — not to mention great acting to boot.  Adams was talked about early on as someone who might be up for her first Oscar win. I think Cate Blanchett has this one in the bag but if there is anyone who can upset her it’s Adams.  But all of that rests on whether or not she even gets a nomination; Oscar ballots were turned in long before the Globes held their ceremony.  No SAG nomination for Adams, despite an ensemble nod for the film.  Her win at the Globes is the kind of thing that could boost a contender into the big show — if there had been enough time, which there wasn’t.

That she got a BAFTA nod, however, bodes well for her chances to be that fifth slot nominee. She’ll have to replace Streep. As of today, I don’t think I’d feel confident making that call.  I agree with Grantland’s Mark Harris, who has been slowly rolling out his predictions, and recently predicted the solid five — Blanchett, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Sandra Bullock, and Streep.

Likewise, Mr. DiCaprio could become a threat in the Best Actor category — should he even receive a nomination. Best Actor is even more cramped than Actress and these voters are going to have to really love The Wolf of Wall Street to allow him in.  His appearance at the Globes was interesting. His mere presence caused such a stir.  Like McConaughey, he has been acting so long, pulling out characters from dark places — and yet has never gotten an Oscar for it. DiCaprio is a Prince turned King in Hollywood now. That was evident at the Globes. He has at last graduated from the younger actor we all fell in love with in Titanic.  His performance in The Wolf of Wall Street is a revelation.  He can’t really compete with McConaughey in the likable character department. Leo plays a Wolf so loathsome (especially to men, I’ve found) that they would rather chew off their own arm than give him their vote. Many of them likely didn’t finish the Wolf screener because if you can’t get past that first rough 45 minutes you’ll never know the beauty, the perfection of The Wolf of Wall Street.  To me, DiCaprio’s is the Performance of the Year, alongside some very formidable work from Robert Redford, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce Dern, Tom Hanks, and yes, McConaughey.

For DiCaprio to get into the Best Actor race he has to bump one of the solid five — and who is that going to be? Everyone will say Robert Redford because actors like to do two things in movies: show their face and talk.  Redford acts the entire film without dialogue — that could be why the SAG voters shunned his exceptional work, and could be why the actors in the Academy do same. Their whole professions revolve around their face and the words they speak. Only hard core old-timer actors, like Actors Studio actors, really know that acting is about so much more than words.  And yet… Redford is likely the one who might take the hit should DiCaprio break through.

Both Adams and DiCaprio might have to rest with their Globes, or perhaps their BAFTAS, as the end of their awards journey. Or else, we will hear their names called on Thursday morning. It’s an interesting situation, don’t you think?