7 Things the Precursors Have Told Us About the Oscar Race

With the enormous amount of activity recently in the precursor race, enough has been gathered to give us a few pretty clear ideas about the direction of the Oscar race. The list of expected nominees is getting narrower and narrower as major precursors have been reporting their award winners and nominees. The entire list of precursors that have been announced so far can be found here and the precursor chart has been updated. The link can be found in the above menu under Oscars >> Precursor Awards.

Based on what we have learned from the precursor awards so far, here are 7 things that have been either newly discovered or cemented.

1. Aaron Sorkin has no competition for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Many critics groups do not differentiate between Adapted and Original Screenplay so while their award may not go to The Social Network, it does not go to somebody who is Aaron Sorkin’s competition. This is the only major category this year where there has been an absolute sweep with The Social Network receiving 22 awards so far and no other film receiving a single one. Aaron Sorkin should have his Oscar speech written by now. And I’m very much looking forward to hearing it.

2. Annette Bening may not be Natalie Portman’s threat for Best Actress.

Leading up to precursor season, and even several weeks into it, the general knowledge has been that the Best Actress race comes down to Black Swan‘s Natalie Portman and The Kids Are All Right‘s Annette Bening. However, Bening has only received one award so far during the entire precursor season while Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone has received four. Portman may be dominating with 15 precursor wins, a lot of groups have been awarding both actresses by presenting Lawrence their Best Breakthrough or Best Newcomer Award. Oscar does not have the opportunity to double dip and their may be a growing amount of support for Winter’s Bone.

3. Christian Bale is experiencing Christoph Waltz-like domination.

Last year Christoph Waltz was very close to sweeping the Critics awards with almost unanimous wins during precursor season. This year Christian Bale appears to be heading down a similar path with 18 wins already in the precursor race and nominations for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Broadcast Film Critics Awards. The category that had been criticized all year as weak has found its frontrunner and he has a strong probability to carry it to the end.

4. It’s a three horse race for Best Supporting Actress.

There are three supporting actresses who have been racking up the most precursor awards this year and none of them are Helena Bonham Carter who was thought to be a frontrunner for most of the season. The Fighter‘s Melissa Leo is currently leading with 8 wins, True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld is right behind with 6 wins, and Animal Kingdom‘s Jacki Weaver has 5 wins. Leo is the only one of the three who has received nominations from the Golden Globes, SAGs, and BFCAs while Steinfeld and Weaver have each missed out with one of the three groups. That doesn’t mean the Oscar is Leo’s, however, as this category has been known to change direction several times leading right up to the big night.

5. The Oscars need to add a Best Ensemble category.

This is such a worthy and fun category, it feels like it is only a matter of time before the Oscars add it. A lot of Critics groups and other awards bodies already have it and it’s a great way to nominate films that might not fit into any of the acting categories, but have an overall strong ensemble.

6. John Hawkes is more than likely going to get a Supporting Actor nomination.

At the beginning of the season, John Hawkes of Winter’s Bone dominated the independent film awards, which was not a surprise, but not enough to get him to be taken seriously as an Oscar nominee. However, he recently was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and has won two prizes from major critics groups. The argument could be made that he missed at the Globes and the BFCAs, so he is not a strong contender, but the Screen Actors are the only group that have any overlap with the Oscars and the other groups tend to ignore stars that aren’t well-established.

7. The 4th and 5th spots in the Best Actor race are still up in the air.

It is pretty clear that Colin Firth of The King’s Speech, Jessie Eisenberg of The Social Network, and James Franco of 127 Hours will be getting Oscar nominations as all three have had the most wins from Critics groups and received Golden Globe, SAG, and BFCA nominations. However, the 4th and 5th spot are still rather up in the air at this point and the argument could be made that it is between 4 actors. Jeff Bridges of True Grit and Robert Duvall of Get Low hav received SAG and BFCA nominations, but have not won any significant early awards. Mark Wahlberg of The Fighter and Ryan Gosling of Blue Valentine were nominated for the Golden Globe, but neither have had much success with critics groups. Right now the 4th and 5th spot could be filled with any of those four actors.

Stay tuned as the Oscar predictions get updated over the next several days. What are your thoughts on the precursor race?

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  • I’m glad that John Hawkes is getting more appreciation for his performance in “Winter’s Bone”. I’d say that Jeff Bridges is a decent lock for Best Actor, but that fifth space is still very much in question. The category I’m most passionately involved in right now is that Supporting Actress race. I’m definitely in favor of Hailee Steinfeld over Melissa Leo at this point.

  • great article alex. I still best actress is between Bening and Portman with the latter having the edge. Lawrence will surely get nominated but AMPAS will think that is her reward. The “babe” which could her will actualy help Portman win over Bening who the has the “veteran” card. so it’s the babe vs. the vetran. But i’m glad since both are deserving.

  • Matt Kanter

    One thing that I’ve been thinking about for awhile is the race for Best Supporting Actress, so far almost every major site as had the nominations as a 6 horse race between Melissa Leo, Jacki Weaver, Hailee Steinfeld, Mila Kunis, Helena Bonham Carter and Amy Adams. With Weaver, Steinfeld, or Kunis being snubbed in the end in most predictions, though I have seen some more recent ones with Bonham Carter being snubbed, but I’ve been thinking…what are the odds of Amy Adams being the one who misses the nomination in the end with internal competition and no individual call outs for her, and the momentum for the film as a whole more likely to help Leo in this category I believe Amy Adams is most likely to be snubbed, but I don’t know. Is this a possibility?

  • Jose

    Duncan, I too am in favor of Steinfeld over Leo. Heck I’m in favor of her over everyone.

    A best ensemble category sounds like fun, I can already see Scott Pilgrim, The Fighter, and Inception on it this year.

    The ambiguity ofthe 4th and 5th slot. I’m kind of hoping that Javier Bardem and Ryan Gosling make it.

  • Gabriel Juliano

    Academy Award

    Winners – Predictions

    Best Picture: The Social Network
    Best Director: David Fincher – The Social Network
    Best Actor: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
    Best Actress: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
    Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale – The Fighter
    Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams – The Fighter
    Best Original Screenplay: Black Swan
    Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
    Best Editing: The Social Network
    Best Cinematography: True Grit
    Best Art Direction: The King’s Speech
    Best Costume Design: The King’s Speech
    Best Makeup: Alice in Wonderland
    Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat – The King’s Speech
    Best Original Song: “We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3
    Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
    Best Foreign Language Film: Of Gods and Men – France
    Best Documentary Feature: Waiting for Superman
    Best Sound Editing: Inception
    Best Sound Mixing: Inception
    Best Visual Effects: Inception

    Most Winners
    The Social Network – 4 Oscar
    The King’s Speech – 4 Oscar
    Inception – 3 Oscar
    Black Swan – 2 Oscar
    The Fighter – 2 Oscar
    Toy Story 3 – 2 Oscar

  • @Matt Katner – It’s hard because Amy Adams, Mila Kunis, and Helena Bonham Carter have all gotten nominations from the SAG awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and the BFCA Awards. It’s rare that an actress gets all three and misses an Oscar nomination, but I don’t see any way that Weaver or Steinfeld misses at this point. This category is shaping up to be the most interesting at this year’s Oscars.

  • I love the idea of Best Ensemble!
    I did my predictions a while back, and I’m rooting for The Fighter for Best Picture (as a surprise winner). It might be Social Network, but I don’t see it as an Oscar Winner film for some reason .. Fincher should win though, just because he is the awesomness.

    Loved the post! So true.

  • I really like Mark Wahlberg, but I do not think he deserves any consideration for his work in the Fighter, although he didn’t have much to work with in that character.

    Best Ensemble would be awesome and I am thrilled about John Hawkes, he was awesome.

    I also think the precursors have given Mila Kunis a push.

  • They really should start Best Ensemble.
    I agree with pretty much all of your predictions.
    The Social Network will probably win Best Picture, and for the other other nominees I agree with your predictions. I really hope The Town will get nominated, but it probably won’t. Also, on the chart for Best Picture, it said next to review you gave it a B. Are you going to put up a review of it anytime soon?

  • Quinn, review is up: http://www.filmmisery.com/?p=4331

  • Thanks!

  • Oh wait, sorry. The review I was talking about was Black Swan, I forgot to write it though for some reason. IF you go to the Best Picture chart and go down to Black Swan, it will say ‘B’ next to review.

  • Mike

    I disagree that Annette Bening is not in second place. Sometimes the critics awards do not mean all that much for Best Actress, and I think this year is the same. Remeber last year when Carey Mulligan won the most prizes, but ended up in third or fourth behind Sandra Bullock who won NOTHING (not even a nomination) until the BFCA? Remember when Sally Hawkins dominated, but then wasn’t even nominated against the overdue winner Kate Winslet? The critics awards don’t mean that much for this category. It is the BFCA, GG, SAG, and BAFTA that matter. Annette Bening for the Oscar!

    Also, I think that Amy Adams will not only be nominated but she will end up winning. I doubt the Academy will give it to Steinfeld because she is so new, Weaver missed the SAG, and Bonham- Carter and Kunis give weak performances. It will be either Leo or Adams, and since Adams has more overdue momentum (and is a much bigger star) than Leo, she will win.

  • Jose

    I just don’t see Amy Adams winning, let alone a nomination for her.

  • Matt Kanter

    Yes Amy Adams has been nominated twice before (the same amount as Annette Benning) but I don’t necessarily see her as “Due” the Supporting Actress category has been the one category in the past where kids win I mean Anna Paquin and Tatum O’Neal. Amy Adams has like 10 more years until she’s “due” for an Oscar. Also Bonham Carter’s performance wasn’t a big booming performance but it was a good one who frankly I would say is a little bit “due”.

    I think Ensemble would be a good category, but the thing is would films like Scott Pilgrim be nominated or would it end up being effected by the same Oscar politics.

  • Jose

    OK, The Fighter at number 2, that’s surprising.

  • @Jose, it got huge pushes from both SAG and Golden Globes, I can see it.

  • Jose

    I see 3 or 4, but that’s just me.

  • I don’t know where I see anything anymore. I didn’t like The King’s Speech all that much and don’t think it has the emotional power to win (it almost looks more like a Letters from Iwo Jima/The Queen nomination).

    True Grit was a glorious piece of cinema, but Bridges and the Coens have won too recent in memory, it is a remake, and got almost no support in the precursors (but that could be because of the late release).

    Black Swan got the same level push as The Fighter (if not larger because of the strange love for Mila Kunis), but is a horror film at heart (and is not exactly subtle in its content).

    So that leaves Social Network without competition, which still doesn’t quite feel right to me. That leaves The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, and Toy Story 3. Unless The Town, Rabbit Hole, Another Year, or The Ghost Writer do something miraculous.

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