In one corner, mighty Paramount’s $100 million movie with one of the world’s biggest stars and one of the most exciting films of the year. In the other corner, the tiny Dallas Buyers Club which got made on a wing and a prayer, so lacking in funds they couldn’t even afford a lighting crew or lights. It’s the kind of David and Goliath story that really can’t lose. If you’re betting for an upset this year, I’m not sure betting against McConaughey, and Dallas Buyers Club, is the way to go.
Tom makes a good case, saying that so far Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey have not gone up against each other at a major awards show yet. DiCaprio was not nominated for a SAG award and McConaughey isn’t nominated for a BAFTA. But also keep in mind, no actor has ever won the Oscar for Best Actor without a corresponding SAG nomination. Best Actor is different from Supporting, though Tom’s general theory is right – there wasn’t enough time for Wolf to bake in SAG voters’ minds. One thing seems clear to me, though, at both BAFTA and SAG American Hustle was far more popular. BUT.
In all of Globes-SAG- Oscar history, only once has an actor beat the frontrunner and there were mitigating circumstances. In 2001, Russell Crowe was headed for his second Best Actor win. He was up against Denzel Washington who, as yet, had only won Supporting and had been shafted more often then rewarded. Crowe had an altercation at the BAFTAs at exactly the wrong time. Halle Berry was headed for her historic Best Actress win and in a twist no one could have predicted (except Roger Ebert and me) both Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won. A Beautiful Mind still won Best Picture but Crowe was left out in the cold.
The opposite could be said of Matthew McConaughey. He’s only grown in stature, become the talk of the town, all before even earning a single Oscar nod until this year. Though it seemed like a wide open race, once McConaughey started winning, his momentum kept building. Wolf of Wall Street is DiCaprio’s movie, to be sure, but McConaughey very nearly steals the show in that movie too. Voters are likely watching Wolf, Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective on HBO. Actors don’t have years like McConaughey is having and lose the Oscar.
And also note: Christoph Waltz was a LEAD PERFORMANCE in the supporting category. Whenever that happens it is automatically not a fair fight. He was the lead of Django Unchained, along with Jamie Foxx. Secondly, DiCaprio isn’t starring in a Best Picture contender at the BAFTAs. All of those voters vote for Best Picture and they didn’t like Wolf enough to get it in there – they liked Philomena better. Sure, DiCaprio and Scorsese have revved up publicity but the BAFTA seems MORE likely to go for Christian Bale, even, than it does DiCaprio (I am predicting him at the BAFTAs but I may change my own prediction after making this case) and it could go to Chiwetel Ejiofor, come to that. But sure, DiCaprio could win. I still think McConaughey has the Oscar.
The differences between the two characters is staggering. One is a true hero who saved people’s lives and did it for no money whatsoever. The other is a guy who fucked people over for profit, again and again and again. All of the people who dislike the film will dislike DiCaprio in it. I loved the movie, as you know, but not everyone did. Woodruff, on the other hand, it’s all good for that character. Moreover, Dallas Buyers Club has that SAG ensemble nod. That shows the all-important actors liked that movie a lot.
For all of the versatility he’s exhibited this year and last, for brilliant contribution to Wolf of Wall Street in giving it its theme song, for having lost 46 pounds to play Ron Woodruff, for starring in Focus Features’ swan song, Dallas Buyers Club, for being the only reason that film got made – there seems to me no one more deserving of the accolade of Best Actor and I do believe McConaughey will take it, at last.