While Oscar season is a long way off, and the long march to the end of the year often discards films whose buzz can’t be sustained, a good movie is a good movie is a good movie. But we don’t always measure Oscar contenders that way. We measure them, usually, by who made them, how important they are in the business, what their career arc is. For instance, Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars might ordinarily be dismissed for playing too controversial of “difficult” a character. But given that Moore is so long overdue for an Oscar, given her place in the industry, it’s a good bet that she’s potentially in line for a lead nod.

There are four, maybe five solid Oscar contenders for the major categories so far, without having yet seen Michel Hazanavicius’ new film, nor The Clouds of Sils Maria.

When all is said and done the film that probably has the best chance overall getting to the big show is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. This is a film that will likely hit all of the major nominations, starting with Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, etc. The director is usually the star of the Best Picture race and right now Bennett Miller is riding a career high.

The second possible contender for major categories would be Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, which should enjoy many tech nods, like Cinematography and Art Direction, but could also land for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor.

Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman is a wild card. It has sadly not yet been picked up by a distributor and its Oscar chances will depend on which studio takes it. It needs a passionate advocate and with that it could go far.

David Cronenberg’s brilliant Maps to the Stars is likely going to either hit or miss with voters. Remember how The Player did the same? Maps to the Stars is even darker and uglier than The Player. If it exposes this industry as an ecosystem driven by, as John Cusack said, fear, greed and desperation, that industry might just want the movie to movie to disappear as quickly as possible. Remember, voting happens in total isolation. The Academy isn’t ready for nor open to Cronenberg’s work overall so it won’t really matter how much the critics praise it, the Academy still might reject it. Too bad, because supposedly film awards are about rewarding quality.

Here is a quick and dirty rundown of possibles:

Best Picture
1. Foxcatcher
2. Mr. Turner
3. The Homesman
Long shots: Maps to the Stars, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Best Director
1. Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
2. Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner
3. Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman
Long shot: David Cronenberg, Maps to the Stars

Best Actor
1. Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
2. Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
3. Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher

Best Actress
1. Jessican Chastain, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
2. Hilary Swank, The Homesman
3. Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars

Best Supporting Actor
1. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
2. Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman (or lead)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Mia Wasikowska, Maps to the Stars

Original Screenplay
1. Bruce Wager, Maps to the Stars (should/could win)
2. Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner
3. E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher
4. Ned Benson, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon 2

Foreign Language — a good many, depending on which country submits but possibly:
Run – Ivory Coast
Wild Tales – Argentina
Timbuktu – France (?)
(This category to be revisited later, after all films have been seen)

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  • Kane

    Hmm didn’t realize Foxcatcher was an original script.

    I think Mr. Turner is set for costume design and art direction. Mike Leigh is assured an original screenplay nomination, as he usually gets.

    Foxcatcher I believe is safe for picture, actor and screenplay. If Miller could get Jonah Hill his first nomination, he could do the same for Tatum so I’ll give it 4 locks at the moment.

  • Robin Write

    Foxcatcher is either going to stick in the minds of voters like glue, or just get forgotten and swept away at the end. I predict the former, and the Steve Carell buzz might even mean he has won the Oscar already. Winning Best Actor in Cannes won’t hurt a la Christoph Waltz and Jean Dujardin.

  • Ricky

    How certain are you that Channing Tatum will belong in the lead category? How about Carrell?

    If Carell is looking locked for a nomination, keeping him in lead will make sense, but given Oscar politics, the powers that be may determine he has a better shot of winning in supporting… I’ve not seen the film so I have no idea how bad a case of category fraud that would be.

    Speaking of which, if Carell looks clear to get in, wouldn’t it make sense to campaign Tatum in supporting? It seems unlikely that all three would get nominated, so who falls off if it’s only one in lead and one in supporting? Ruffalo? I haven’t read any review yet that clearly differentiates which of the two is more deserving of a nomination. We could be dealing with a film like Nine, where they both have an equal chance to get in and only one of them does (like Penelope Cruz over Marion Cotillard).

  • Robert A.

    “Foxcatcher I believe is safe for picture, actor and screenplay. If Miller could get Jonah Hill his first nomination, he could do the same for Tatum so I’ll give it 4 locks at the moment.”

    It’s only May and we’re already talking “locks”? And Miller “could do the same for Tatum,” and yet you’re adding Tatum to the “lock” pile? I think Carell looks good for a nomination, but I don’t even consider him a “lock” yet. It’s simply too early in the game to start calling every promising candidate a “lock.”

  • ubourgeois

    I have a hard time picturing Carell campaigning Supporting while Tatum goes Lead – after all, the poster is an outline of his face. I think it’s pretty common practice to give the most memorable major role Lead status while the ostensible main protagonist is shuffled into a supporting campaign. Think Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts in August: Osage County or even Bruce Dern/Will Forte in Nebraska. In the Oscar season following Matthew McConaughey’s unstoppable march to victory, I don’t think a nomination for Carell in Lead is hard to imagine at all if the talent is there, which by all accounts it is. And don’t forget this is Bennett Miller we’re talking about – both of his previous films managed two acting nominations. Whether or not Carell wins is an argument for a few months from now, but as I see it right now, a nomination is on the table.

  • Ricky

    Having read three or four more reviews, it looks like in terms of likelihood to be nominated, we’re looking at Carell -> Tatum -> Ruffalo, with all three having a really good shot.

    That said, I can’t help but feel that they’re going to put Carell in supporting because they think he can win there. If that happens, Tatum will have to face the inevitable onslaught of lead contenders and who knows if he can withstand that. SPC would probably be wise to wait until more of the competition shows its face before determining what categories to put the three of them

  • Kane

    Robert A, not “safe” as in an absolute “lock”. “Safe” as in “it’s safe to say their chances are extremely high.” I learned not to call something a lock since The Master fiasco of 2013 when I truly thought it would get at least 6, but deserving at least 10, and came away with 3. Not making the same mistake again. But given Miller’s track record I am comfortable saying it’s chances look very good. Sometimes a movie’s buzz is that strong that you know it’ll stick around to years end.

  • Mike

    I think Channing Tatum will be that lead actor who gets nominated for supporting- like Julia Roberts last year.

  • Robin Write

    See also Jamie Foxx for Collateral, or Ethan Hawke for Training Day, to name just two more.

  • phantom

    I think these are the contenders that had been already seen AND could be still in the conversation in December :

    Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
    Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
    Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
    The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
    The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Ned Benson)
    + The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones)

    Honorable mentions (probably tiny chance or none at all)
    Too early : The Immigrant, Belle, Tracks
    Too edgy : Maps to the Stars, Night moves, Under the Skin
    Too indie : The Skeleton Twins, Whiplash
    Too controversial : Noah
    Too lighthearted : Begin Again, Le Week-End, Laggies

    Jessica Chastain ( The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)
    Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle)

    Wild Cards (all could be stronger contenders with other films this year)
    Hilary Swank (The Homesman)
    Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
    Keira Knightley (Begin Again)
    Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant)
    Mia Wasikowska (Tracks)

    Honorable mentions (probably too indie for the Academy)
    Kristen Wiig (The Skeleton Twins)
    Lindsey Duncan (Le Week-End)

    Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
    Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)
    Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood)

    Wild Cards
    James McAvoy (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)
    Mark Ruffalo (Begin again)
    Russel Crowe (Noah)

    Honorable mentions
    Jack O’Connell (Starred Up, ’71)
    Miles Teller (Whiplash)
    Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins)
    Jim Broadbent (Le Week-End)

    Vanessa Redgrave (Foxcathcer)
    Marion Bailey (Mr. Turner)
    Patricia Arquette / Lorelai Linklater (Boyhood)

    Wild Cards
    Viola Davis / Isabelle Huppert / Jess Weixler (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)
    Grace Gummer / Miranda Otto / Meryl Streep (The Homesman)
    Jennifer Connelly / Emma Watson (Noah)

    Honorable mentions
    Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
    Mia Wasikowska (Maps to the Stars)
    Emily Watson (Belle)

    Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
    Channing Tatum & Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
    Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

    Wild Card
    William Hurt (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)

    Honorable mentions
    F. Murray Abraham (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
    Tom Wilkinson (Belle)
    J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

  • phantom

    P.S. I may be overestimating ‘Eleanor’ but I think we should seriously consider the possibility that the film has the kind of damn strong and appealing Oscar campaign narrative, Harvey Weinstein can campaign the hell out of.

    Also, Jack O’Connell may not come close to a nod with those two films but could emerge as the frontrunner if Jolie’s Unbroken turns out to be a contender.

  • Joseph

    Yes, sorry, you’re overestimating Eleanor.

    Saw both films at TIFF. It’s a very small, contemporary romance.

    MAYBE Chastain if it’s a weak year for lead actress – but that’s it.

  • Ángel Ramos

    I think best actor is going to be something like this:

    -Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
    -Michael Keaton, Birdman
    -Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
    -Joaquin Phoenix, Inherit Vice
    -Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher

  • joe

    87th Oscar predictions

    Big Eyes
    The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigsby
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Hobbit: the battle of the five armies
    The Hoseman
    Mr. Turner

    Best director
    Tommy Lee Jones for the hoseman
    Richard linklater for boyhood
    Mike Leigh for Mr. Turner
    Bennett miller for foxcatcher
    Christopher Nolan for interstellar

    Lead actor
    Steve carrell in foxcatcher
    Ellar Coltrane in boyhood
    Benedict cumberbatch in the imitation game
    Jack O’Connell in unbroken
    Timothy spall in Mr. Turner

    Lead actress
    Amy Adams in big eyes
    Jessica chastain in the disappearance of elanor rigsby
    Rosemund pike in gone girl
    Hilary swank in the boseman
    Reese Witherspoon in wild

    Supporting actor
    Robert Duvall in The Judge
    Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
    Ian McKellen in the hobbit: the battle of the five armies
    J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
    Changing Tatum in Foxcatcher

    Supporting Actress
    Patricia Marquette in boyhood
    Marion Bailey in Mr. Turner
    Viola Davis in the disappearance of Eleanor rigsby
    Vanessa Redgrave in Foxcatcher
    Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

    Original Screenplay
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Mr. Turner

    Adapted screenplay
    The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigsby
    Gone Girl
    The Homesman
    The Imitation Game

    Animated Feature
    The Boxtrolls
    How to train your dragon 2
    The Lego Movie
    Me and My Shadow
    The Princess Kuguya

    Documentary Feature
    The Case against 8
    The Green Prince
    LA Bare
    Life Itself
    Rich Hill

    Production Design
    Big Eyes
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Imitation Game
    Into the Woods
    Mr. Turner

    Costume Design
    The Hobbit: The battle of the five armies
    Inherent vice
    Into the woods
    Mr. Turner

    The hobbit: the battle of the five armies
    The Homesman
    Mr. Turner

    Into the woods

    Original score
    Marco Beltrami for The homesman
    Alexandre Desplat for Unbroken
    Trent Reznor for Gone Girl
    Stephen Sondheim for Into the Woods
    Hans zimmer for interstellar

    Original Song
    Heaven is for real
    The hobbit: the battle of the five armies
    Into the woods
    The Lego movie

    Film Editing
    Gone Girl
    Mr. Turner

    Visual Effects
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    The Hobbit: the battle of the five armies

    Sound Editing
    Dawn of the planet of the apes
    The hobbit: the battle of the five armies
    Transformers: Age of Extinction

    Sound Mixing
    Gone Girl
    Into the Woods
    Transformers: Age of Extinction

  • joe

    Winner predictions
    Bennett Miller
    Timothy Spall
    Jessica Chastain
    Ian McKellen
    Meryl Streep
    The Homesman
    How to train your dragon 2
    The Case against 8
    Mr. Turner
    Mr. Turner
    Hans zimmer
    Into the woods
    Godzilla/The hobbit 3

  • phantom
  • keifer

    This looks to me like it could be Jessica Chastain’s year.

  • Zooey

    Just like at the Tony Awards, Meryl Streep will be lead at the Oscars for Into the Woods. It’s an iconic role.

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