My Best Actor and Actress predictions that are made before Awards season has kicked into gear are more hopeful than realistic. I look for my favorite performers who I feel are remarkably overdue for some Oscar attention and I make excuses as to why this could be their year. It is not uncommon for the Academy to reward the right actor for the wrong movie and a lot of my predictions go along with that philosophy.
Let’s start things off with Best Actor:
Those of you who read the site regularly know that I very highly regard the talents of Colin Farrell. When he’s good he’s great and when he’s bad he’s still usually one of the best parts of the movie. This year might be Colin Farrell’s best chance at an Oscar nomination with lead roles in three films that have the possibility to get some Awards attention. I have already seen and thoroughly enjoyed him in Neil Jordan’s Ondine, where he plays a solitary Irish fisherman in a modern day fairytale. He will also be appearing in William Monahan’s directing debut London Boulevard where he will play an ex-con looking for redemption alongside Keira Knightley. However, I think his best chance comes in Peter Weir’s The Way Back about a gang of soldiers who escape a Siberian prison and trek Southwards. The film has a lot of elements that the Academy usually goes for – WWII setting, Peter Weir directing, inspiring and hopeful story – and Farrell could be the inspiring lead.
Farrell will have a lot of competition this year, however. In the trailer for Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere Stephen Dorff appears to shine in a similar looking role to the one that gave Bill Murray an Oscar nomination for Lost in Translation. Coming off an Oscar win, Jeff Bridges could see his name back on the shortlist for taking over John Wayne’s role in the Coen Brothers’ True Grit. Bridges will have to overcome the Academy’s preconceived image of Wayne in the role and make the part his own. Mark Wahlberg plays a Boxer in David O. Russell’s biographical film The Fighter, and the Academy loves boxing movies. Rounding out my top 5 is the ever trustworthy George Clooney who seems to score a nomination anytime he’s in a smart politically or socially minded film.
Possible contenders include the legendary Robert Duvall for his role as the miserly hermit who throws his own funeral in Get Low. This may be the aging actors last chance at a nomination, which could encourage voters to pay tribute to his illustrious career. Matt Damon got a long overdue nomination last year for Invictus, but he may be even more deserving in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. Danny Boyle has not had much luck with his actors getting Oscar attention, but that may change with James Franco’s performance as a rock climber who struggles against the elements with his arm stuck under a rock in 127 Hours. We also could see recent nominees Javier Bardem, Colin Firth, or Sean Penn back on the list this year.
The two most overdue actresses in Hollywood star in the same movie this year. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a lesbian couple who use a sperm donor to have children in the comedy The Kids Are All Right. Each of the actresses has a strong chance at an Oscar nomination, although I’m picking Annette Bening for the lead. Critics who have seen the film early say that Bening will likely be campaigned for the lead Oscar nomination while Moore will probably go for supporting. Maybe one will win each Oscar? Nah, that would be too good to be true.
Mrs. Bening will have to watch out for one of her mortal enemies as Hilary Swank returns for an Oscar bait role in the movie Conviction. Swank’s accent sounds a little too horrible to convince me, however, and I’m keeping her out of the top 10. The top 5 include Hiam Abbass who plays an Israeli woman who starts an orphanage in Julian Schnabel’s Miral, Lesley Manville received rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Mike Leigh’s Another Year. Jennifer Lawrence is this year’s Gabourey Sidibe – the newcomer who delivers a tour-de-force performance in Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone. Finally, Nicole Kidman could get another Oscar nomination after a long drought for her role as the grieving mother in John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole.
Other possibilities include Carey Mulligan who was the early favorite last year and could get back to back nominations depending on how well she is received in Never Let Me Go. Naomi Watts received positive reviews at the Cannes Film Festival for her role as the real-life ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame in Doug Liman’s Fair Game. We could also see a return from recent nominees Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, or Amy Adams.
Your thoughts on the 2011 Oscar race for actor and actress?