Keith Phipps: Well, we’re almost to the Oscars. Is anyone else feeling relieved? I’d follow the Oscar race even if it weren’t a professional obligation, but we’re at the point in each season when fatigue inevitably sets in. Yeah, yeah: The Revenant was hard to make. We’ve heard about this. Even what we’re about to do — talk about who will win and who should win — is a conversation that’s been going on for what feels like half a year at this point. (Maybe because it’s been going on for about half a year at this point?) Nonetheless, without further ado, let’s join that conversation. Jen Chaney, who’s been covering the Oscars race for us, had some pretty solid-looking predictions yesterday, but nobody’s right all the time. And I’d love to hear who you think should win in each category.
So, let’s kick it off with the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories. In the former, I think Sylvester Stallone will win for Creed, and I’m very okay with that. It’s a terrific movie that should have been better represented in the nominations, starting with Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler. And Stallone is great in the movie, making himself look vulnerable and mortal in ways that I’d never seen from him before. I think my favorite of the bunch, however, is Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies, an example of a character actor showing how he can command a film. Rylance had plenty of experience before Bridge of Spies, a lot of it on stage. That he wasn’t instantly recognizable helped him slip into the role of someone whose job, as a spy, was to never stick out. He brought a lot of wry, dark humor to the role, and played nicely off of Hanks. I hope he’ll be in more movies soon.
As for Supporting Actress… I don’t know. Part of the beauty of Spotlight is how understated every element of the film is, including the performances. Ruffalo has one Big Scene, but it’s ultimately not even the sort of Big Scene it’s set up to be, just a guy blowing off steam in frustration. Rachel McAdams is great here, but maybe not the kind of great that gets awards. Rooney Mara is a co-lead. I think voters will see through this attempt to put her in the supporting category. I think it’s going to be Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight, which would be how I would cast my vote, too. You can’t take your eyes off her in that movie. And you?
Mike Ryan: Oh yeah, Sly will win and if, by some terrible circumstance he doesn’t, I think my night will be ruined. This is the moment I am watching for and I bet a lot of other people feel the same way. Remember when Rocky sequels were schlock? Now Balboa is back in a prestige film. It’s kind of unbelievable this happened.
Alicia Vikander will win Supporting Actress and I can sleep at night with this happening. The biggest argument here is that she’s the lead and not supporting, but, whatever: she’s here in this category and I’d bet my non-existent first born she will win — and it’s not quite as egregious as the Rooney Mara situation. (I do have a soft spot for Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight, but I don’t see it happening.)
Vince Mancini: It’s so hard to predict “who will win,” because that means putting myself in the shoes of people who not only awarded Eddie Redmayne last year, but nominated him again this year. You know what they say about dancing with the devil. Similarly, you spend too much time trying to get inside the Academy’s mind, and the next thing you know you start enjoying Stephen Daldry movies. No thanks.
A lot of people will criticize me for making fun of The Danish Girl without seeing it, but look, I’m pretty sure I know what that movie has to offer. It was made to win Oscars. If I wanted to watch someone shamelessly pander to people I don’t like, I’d go to a Donald Trump rally.
But fine, who will win, let’s do it.
Best Supporting Actor: I’ll go with the consensus and say Stallone. I don’t necessarily think “better than it had any right to be” is the same thing as “great,” but Creed was fine, and I’m not going to be too upset about anything that allows Sly Stallone to speak into a microphone. He’s also a heavy favorite in Vegas.
As for who should win, I hate answering this almost as much in this case, because Supporting Actor is possibly the worst of all this year’s categories. No Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina? No Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight? No Demian Bichir, no Josh Brolin, no Emory Cohen, no Benicio Del Toro? Samuel L. Jackson only has one Oscar nomination? You’re all fired. Even if we’re just talking The Big Short, I thought Gosling and Carell had more interesting roles than Bale (my favorite was Jeremy Strong, though I understand if that role wasn’t considered big enough to warrant consideration). Of the options nominated, I guess I have to go with Tom Hardy. It wasn’t Tom Hardy’s best performance, but it was still a Tom Hardy performance. I’d love it if he could actually enunciate one of these times, but his speech about getting scalped and Jesus being a squirrel were more memorable than anything else for me.
As for Supporting Actress, I’m going with Alicia Vikander for who should win because, at the very least, she deserves it for Ex Machina. Kate Winslet is great, but I don’t know how she’s nominated for a role where she couldn’t maintain a consistent accent. For who will win, I want to say Jennifer Jason Leigh (who was a little over the top for my tastes, but she’s a fine actress), who seems to be critics’ consensus pick. Interesting to note, Vikander is the Vegas favorite. But I’m going to go with Kate Winslet. I think the best way to handicap the Oscars these days is to ask, “Who would win the Oscar at a parody of the Oscars?” And no one fits that bill better than the famous actress from the overwrought Steve Jobs movie.