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Oscar race heats up as nominees are announced

Blanchett, Leto are Actress and Supporting Actor frontrunners

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 08:01

It’s a busy season for Hollywood. Four days after Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returned to host the Golden Globes on Jan. 12, the Oscar nominees were announced. The Screen Actors Guilds (SAG) Awards were broadcast Jan. 18 and the very next night, envelopes were opened at the Producers Guild Awards. With less than two months until the Academy Awards, the Daily takes a look at how some of the Oscar races are shaping up.

 

Best Actor

Every year there seems to be a race that is decidedly more competitive than the rest — and this year, that honor goes to the race for Best Actor. This is a category so tough that not even Tom Hanks — who has been nominated for five Academy Awards and won two — could garner a nomination for his powerhouse, critically acclaimed performance in last year’s “Captain Phillips.”

Nor did Joaquin Phoenix score a nod for his turn in Spike Jonez’s buzzy “Her” (2013), where he played a man who falls in love with an operating system. So far, Matthew McConaughey currently has momentum on his side — the actor is a first-time nominee for his role as Ron Woodruff in “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013). Though he took home trophies at the Golden Globes, the SAGs and the Critics Choice Awards, McConaughey is not guaranteed an Oscar come March 2nd.

There’s a fair amount of support for veteran actor Bruce Dern of “Nebraska” (2013). But voters will unlikely be able to forget Chiwetel Ejiofor’s haunting performance in “12 Years A Slave” (2013). Leonardo DiCaprio shouldn’t be counted out either — the Academy showed that it has a lot of love for “Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), which picked up five nominations. With such a strong group of nominees, the Best Actor race will likely remain too close to call until the envelope is opened.

 

Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor

These two races are much easier to predict as both have clear front-runners. Cate Blanchett will likely accept an Oscar for her rol as a socialite who has fallen from grace in “Blue Jasmine” (2013). She does have formidable competition in Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep, but their chances of winning are slim.

Interestingly, all the Best Actress nominees this year have scored nods in the past — and all of them, except for Adams, are Oscar winners. There’s a possibility that a swell of support for Adams could rise up if voters want to reward the actress who has been nominated four times in the past six years.

As for Best Supporting Actor, the trophy will certainly go to Jared Leto. The actor-turned-musician, known for playing Jordan Catalano on “My So-Called Life” (1994-1995), made a triumphant return to the acting scene in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He plays Rayon, a transgender woman with AIDS. Like McConaughey, Leto picked up a trio of trophies at the Golden Globes, the SAGs and the Critics Choice Awards. Unlike his co-star, Leto is the clear front-runner in a category with three first-time nominees.

 

Snubs

Every year, the Oscar nominations upset fans and critics whose favorite artists were overlooked by the Academy. This year was no different — and with the Best Actor race so competitive, the furor seemed louder than ever. Chief among the snubs in this category were Hanks for “Captain Phillips” and Robert Redford for “All Is Lost” (2013). Both men delivered impressive performances that many thought could win them the Oscar. 

Emma Thompson also did not receive a nod for her role as British author P.L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013). In fact, the Academy didn’t seem to care much for the Disney movie, which picked up just one nomination for Best Original Score.

Although the Academy tends to favor directors Joel and Ethan Coen, they were not keen on “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013), the filmmaking brothers’ latest effort. It received only two nods in minor categories.

This year’s nominees also reflect the importance of timing in when films are released. Michael B. Jordan was not recognized for his work in “Fruitvale Station” (2013) — a summer release — nor did “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013), which hit theaters in late August, garner any nominations.

The Best Documentary race also left out two critically acclaimed films: Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell” (2013) and the headline-generating “Blackfish” (2013).

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