Awards Forecast: ‘Mad Max’ And ‘Star Wars’ Are Both Up As The Race Narrows

Each week, Uproxx’s Awards Forecast offers an assessment of who/what will be nominated for Oscars come January, based on pundit chatter and pre-Oscar awards. (The pundit analysis is based on opinions put forward by leading Oscar trackers, including Kyle Buchanan of Vulture, the expert panel at Gold Derby, Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt, Awards Daily and Awards Circuit. Pre-Oscar awards consider recent nominations and/or winners announced by industry and critic organizations that annually recognize achievement in film.)

Last week’s Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations forced a lot of prognosticators to do some rejiggering. The Big Short is now on more, uh, short lists as a probable Best Picture nominee. Trumbo also entered the conversation in a big way post-Globes and SAGs, putting both Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren on more pundit radars for lead actor and supporting actress, respectively. Idris Elba, for Best Supporting Actor, and George Miller, as Best Director — already part of the awards season chatter — gained some momentum in the forecasting world. One thing that didn’t change: Brie Larson’s position as a near-certain lead actress nominee for Room.

Mad Max: Fury Road led the Critics’ Choice Award nominations announced earlier this week with 13 nods, aided in part by the fact that the Broadcast Film Critics Association includes action as its own category. It also made the American Film Institute’s list of the year’s top 10 films. Steven Spielberg’s chances for another director nod seem to see-saw week-to-week in the punditry world, but he landed in the field of six at the Critics’ Choice. Other long-rumored potential contenders on the acting front — Fassbender, Rampling, Rylance and McAdams, the only members of the Spotlight ensemble nominated as an individual at both the Critics’ Choice and the SAGS — also got some nomination love this week.

The new Star Wars movie finally screened and most seem pretty ga-ga over it, prompting The Hollywood Reporter to declare that it has Best Picture nomination potential, as well as a possible dog in the director’s fight courtesy of J.J. Abrams. The AFI also included it on its top 10 of 2015 list, at the expense of potential entries like Brooklyn or The Revenant. As more people actually see Episode VII, it should become clear whether this Oscar talk is real, or a premature Jedi mind trick. Theron’s Critics’ Choice nomination for Mad Max: Fury Road keeps her in the discussion, while Redmayne — whose The Danish Girl has been less than universally embraced by critics — looks just the teensiest bit iffier for Best Actor; same goes for Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and other male supporting players from Spotlight. (Am I the only one rooting for Stanley Tucci in this category?) Kristen Stewart’s recent New York Film Critics Circle nomination gave her some cred, but since, she’s been more often overlooked by award/critic groups than included.