We are currently in the midst of Venice and Telluride film fests. The opening day of the Toronto is September 5th. The New York Film Festival starts three weeks later on September 27th. Soon will be up to our eyeballs in Oscar contenders. Before that happens lets take a second to enjoy the calm before the storm, and take stock of the films and performances 2013 has offered us so far.
Next up: Lead Actor
If I Had a Ballot So Far
- Michael B. Jordan - Fruitvale Station
- Ethan Hawke - Before Midnight
- Simon Pegg - The World's End
- Miles Teller - The Spectacular Now
- Forest Whitaker - The Butler
Currently my vote would be a close call between Hawke and Pegg, with Hawke taking the gold. This should not to suggest Pegg is anything less than superb in The World's End. If voters took comedy as seriously as it is always suggested they should, Pegg would be a real contender. (Update: I finally caught up with The Butler, and though my issues with the film are numerous, there is no denying Forest Whitaker's quiet power in the lead role. Hence, Jake Johnson is bumped from the list.)
Have We Seen Any Real Contenders Yet?
Michael B. Jordan will be in the game right up until nomination morning, although he's not a lock yet. Still, I think he has a better than fair shot even if Fruitvale under-performs with voters in general. This is a star-making performance and a big bloc of voters are going to want to make sure it's included.
Beside Jordan, there are Leonardo DiCaprio in Gatsby and Forest Whitaker in The Butler, neither of whom, I feel, are going to be in it for the long haul, Whitaker's because his fine performance is not what's got folks buzzing about The Butler. and DiCaprio's because its staunch fans are relatively few, to say nothing of Wolf of Wall Street which is set to wipe Mr. Gatsby clean out of everyone's memories.
As for festival favorites, Robert Redford and Bruce Dern are sure to be major players for All is Lost and Nebraska, respectively. Also in the game: Oscar Isaac for the Coens' Inside Llewyn Davis, although that strikes me from a distance as a repeat of Michael Stuhlbarg in A Serious Man, where the movie sucks up the accolades while the lead performance slips by strangely unheralded.
Who Is The Current Frontrunner?
At the moment conventional wisdom is that it will come down to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club and Chiwitel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave with Steve Carell in Foxcatcher as a wild card, and DiCaprio in Wolf set to play bridesmaid again. This seems right to me. All the roles are super Oscar friendly and the actors are uniformly at the top of their game. I would give the slightest of edges to McConaughey due to bonus points for his amazing career turn around of recent years.
The more I see the Secret LIfe of Walter Mitty trailer, the more it seems like a real contender. And if it hits big, surely Stiller comes along for the ride, yes?