I am often asked on Twitter that so and so says so and so is the frontrunner or is going to win and what do I think about it. Here’s what I think: there are a lot of Oscar writers and bloggers out there with their fingers on the trigger to be out front first with such and such. I like to think of them as millions of sperm heading for that one egg. I guess to be right early is sort of an honor in our business. It’s a bragging right. I am often guilty of such things, as I’ve recently said I thought Viola Davis would win in any category she was nominated for. The truth is she might and she might not. But if she went supporting, Glenn Close can’t lose in lead. So goes my own wild prediction. There are some things that just aren’t knowable, and whether someone or a film will win the Oscar is not one of those things.
Nonetheless, it’s out there so it must be addressed. Here are the early predictions I’m hearing.
1) Brad Pitt for Moneyball and Leonardo DiCaprio for J Edgar are the two frontrunners in the Best Actor race, says Scott Feinberg, who recently moved to the Hollywood Reporter to cover the Oscars for them.
It’s very hard for a performance, any performance, to come out from under the weight of an early prediction like that. I can think of a few that did: Helen Mirren in The Queen, Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, Holly Hunter in The Piano, Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, etc. So if either Pitt (I haven’t seen Moneyball yet) or DiCaprio (I don’t think anyone has seen J Edgar yet) is holding one of those kinds of performances, an early call like this could be right on the money. But there is just too many unknown things about it, the first being that no one has yet seen J Edgar. Even still, I’ve heard great things about his performance already so you never know. What we do know is that Oscar notoriously has a blind spot for good looking actors up for the prize. Robert Redford has never won an acting Oscar and it took Paul Newman to be way, way overdue before he finally won one. Still, we can be certain that both of them have nominations in the bag, or so it seems right now.
What DO we know about the Best Actor race right now? We know that George Clooney is, to my mind, in the frontrunner’s spot for The Descendants. Right behind him, I figure, is Michael Fassbender in Shame. Wow, two for Fox Searchlight already. And in the major upset category is Christopher Plummer for Barrymore, already called for the win by Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere and mentioned in this story by Tom O’Neil. But if we’re talking frontrunners, the snake in the grass in the Best Actor race is The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, who will charm the pants off of anyone who sees the film. And of course we can’t forget Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
The other story that’s been floating around is that Steve Pond predicted The Descendants to win Best Picture. He’d been out front early on The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech so The Wrap announced pretty loudly that Pond was predicting The Descendants. But it really wasn’t that kind of prediction, and in fact, was kind of offhand.
Anyone who knows how the Oscar race works can’t figure a scenario where a movie like The Descendants actually wins because it’s a comedy (a dramedy, really) and those rarely win. If there is a precedent for it, you’d have to go with Terms of Endearment, which made you laugh AND made you cry, which The Descendants absolutely does.
But Steve knows it’s way too early to know for sure — one of the main reasons for this is that there are so many Oscar movies yet to be seen. We just can’t know what is the fate of War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, We Bought a Zoo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, etc. We must wait. And no one really wants to wait.