Stu Van Airsdale’s latest Oscar column has shifted the Best Actress contenders around a bit, with Michelle Williams coming in second to Meryl Streep. He’s got Viola Davis coming in third, followed by Glenn Close, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron, and Elizabeth Olsen.
It’s a good read, as Stu’s Oscar ruminations always are. But meanwhile, across town, Jeff Wells is making a dramatic plea for actress Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur. He, along with In Contention’s Guy Lodge, have been talking about her performance for a while now, and to hear it from them, Colman is getting the short shrift — not thrust into the Oscar race.
The thing about the awards race is that it doesn’t really come down to the last blogger shouting. Remember last year how hard he and others pushed for Lesley Manville for Another Year – a film the Oscar voters, strangely, shied away from. Sure, that can spark interest and word of mouth, perhaps. Jeff’s story will generate enough talk that you might overhear at some bloated, costly Hollywood party, “oh, I heard that the actress in that movie never got a campaign but that she was really good.”
It’s true that to get into the Best Actress race you sometimes need to be here, give face time, glam up and work the lines. You have to be on a few morning shows or late night talk shows. But this is only a theory. It doesn’t always work. I’ve seen many actors and actresses work the line, do interviews, have their face everywhere and still miss out on a nomination.
If you really want to know how to get Colman into the race, here is how it could go:
If she happens to get a few critics awards, those can sometimes help – but they need to be several, not just one-offs; by this point, sorry LAFCA, we love you but your obscure choices for Best Actress may be honest and true and not intended to influence Oscar but we in this sleazy business of Oscar watching simply omit your choice for Best Actress when you do that (not that you care, or that you should care). But if, say, Colman gets LA, NY, Chicago, and Boston – that could start to push her closer to a nomination.
Those critics awards might push her into a SAG nod (a Globe nod is not outside the realm of possibility either). If she gets a SAG nod, plus those critics awards, she’s getting much closer — we know from experience that is still no guarantee for an actress no one has heard of in a film no one has seen. The second to the last thing that should happen is a BAFTA nod. Critics+SAG+BAFTA makes her 85% likely to get an Oscar nomination.
The last and most important thing that is going to happen to Olivia Colman is that she is starring opposite Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, which is handled by Weinstein Co. Weinsteins already have two Best Actress contenders in the race: Streep and Michelle Williams. Colman doesn’t threaten Streep but she might threaten Williams. However, and I don’t know what part she plays in Iron Lady, but she could theoretically be up for supporting there. Even still, just by association with Streep, Colman will be given a lot of face time. People will know who she is. That will help her tremendously. So, Critics-SAG+BAFTA+Meryl Streep association(minus direct competition problems with the Weinstein Co) could equal an Oscar nod at last.
But let’s say she doesn’t get critics awards, doesn’t get a SAG but does get a BAFTA — she can still, theoretically, get in. You have to ask yourself whom does she push out?
By this time, it looks like four spots are very nearly locked:
Viola Davis – still the one to beat – brilliant performance in a long and fruitful career for Ms. Davis, in an incredibly popular film, playing an admirable character.
Meryl Streep – sight unseen but it’s Meryl Streep who literally can do no wrong.
Glenn Close – understated but nonetheless moving and disturbing role by this magnificent, unrewarded actress
Michelle Williams – lots of buzz out of the NY Film Fest…
Tilda Swinton feels like the fifth filler in this, her career best performance – if she’s shut out the Oscars might as well pack it in and admit they are meaningless. There are others to contend with long before we get to Ms. Colman – Elizabeth Olsen, a star on the rise who is hot and naked throughout that movie. Sorry to be crass (but not that sorry) but we all know how Academy voters are. Speaking of hot, Charlize Theron is also very much in the conversation. There are three strong ones right there. And then there’s Rooney Mara, who appears to blow it out of the park in what we’ve seen from Dragon Tattoo. Too many contenders already, not enough slots.
So whom do you dump to fit in Colman? I’m seeing a pretty tight circle so far. I know we have a ways to go yet. The critics, the guilds, the Globes, the BAFTAs….
But the real problem with the publicity for Tyrannosaur, as Jeff points out, is that people in Los Angeles haven’t yet seen it. How hard is it to set up a screening for people like me, for instance, who write about the Oscar race all day long? I’m willing to wait to see it because it comes so highly recommended. But I also understand how costly it can be, how much trouble it is to put everything on the line to see it come to nothing.
On the other hand, no publicity is bad publicity. It’s all good. Even if she never gets anywhere near the Kodak.