Two years back, Vanessa Redgrave was tipped as a potential nominee for "Coriolanus," but it failed to happen. Last year, we thought she could get one for "Song For Marion," but while the Weinsteins picked it up, they decided not to release it in 2012, and we'd be very surprised if they campaigned for it, given its soft reception on the festival circuit. But Redgrave does have another shot this time around, for her part in Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher." If the script that we have, from 2008, is anything to go by, the role of the wheelchair-bound mother of John Du Pont (Steve Carell) is a two-scene wonder (it might well have been expanded, though), but there's a lot to work with there, and as Judi Dench has proven in the past, honoring a veteran actress doesn't necessarily require a ton of screen time. There's also a chance for the underrated Sienna Miller, who plays Nancy, the wife of wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo).
If there was ever any hope that Jennifer Hudson might win a second Oscar for playing Winnie Mandela, the controversial wife of Nelson Mandela, in "Winnie," it's long since gone. The film is allegedly dreadful, and is yet to be released. But the part could yet prove to be a winner for Naomie Harris who plays her opposite Idris Elba's Nelson, in Justin Chadwick's "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom." The actress has raised her profile recently thanks to her part in "Skyfall," and is more than talented enough to be worthy of nominating. The big question is how major the part is; if the film focuses heavily on Mandela's time on Robben Island, it may be small-ish. Still, certainly one to keep an eye on.
To the dissent of some fans, we've excluded Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" from these prediction pieces; "Drive" failed to make much of an impression with the Academy, and the script for "Only God Forgives" makes that film look like a Disney cartoon, as far as the violence goes. But we do wonder about the potential for Kristin Scott-Thomas. The British actress (nominated for "The English Patient" in 1997) has worked in French cinema more often than not in recent years, but she's got a killer part here as Ryan Gosling's character's ruthless crime boss mother Jenna, one very different from any she's played before. Deep down, we suspect that, as with Albert Brooks and "Drive," the film will be too grisly for Academy tastes. But with Harvey Weinstein releasing the film, anything's possible.
As we said yesterday, Elizabeth Olsen could have a potential Best Actress entry with "Therese Raquin," but we wonder if her chances might not be better in the supporting category, when she appears in Spike Lee's "Oldboy." Olsen plays Marie, the equivalent to Mi-do (played by Kang Hye-jung), who in the original was a young chef who befriends and helps main character Dae-su, only for them to fall for each other. As fans of the original will know, there's a twist in store, and unless the remake has watered the plot down (and the filmmakers are keen to suggest that they haven't), there's some pretty strong material for Olsen to get her teeth into. The film may not be to the Academy's tastes in the end, but Olsen just might be.
We're not quite sure what to make of "Prisoners" and its awards prospects: the film has an acclaimed script, a prestigious cast and an Oscar-nominated director in the shape of "Incendies" helmer Denis Villeneuve. But the story -- revolving around the aftermath of a child abduction -- goes to some eyebrow-raising and dark places, closer to "Saw" than "Mystic River," which may make it principally commercial fare. Its best chances are probably in the supporting acterss category, given that it has awards favorites Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Melissa Leo in the cast. It's tough to say too much about the parts -- Bello and Davis play the mothers of two kidnapped girls, and wives to Hugh Jackman and Terence Howard's characters, while Leo plays the aunt of Paul Dano's suspected killer -- without giving the game away, but any of them have the potential to make it in, if Villeneuve pulls the tricky material off.
Also In Contention: Zoe Saldana in "Out Of The Furnace," Jennifer Garner in "Dallas Buyers Club," Laura Linney, Alicia Vikander and Carice Van Houten in "The Fifth Estate," Julianne Moore in "Carrie" and Hailee Steinfeld in "Can A Song Save Your Life?"
And our exact predictions, for the record:
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin - "Labor Day"
Colin Farrell - "Saving Mr. Banks"
Jeremy Renner - "Untitled David O Russell
Sam Rockwell - "The Way Way Back"
Mark Ruffalo - "Foxcatcher"
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - "Untitled David O Russell Abscam Project"
Cameron Diaz - "The Counselor"
Isla Fisher - "The Great Gatsby"
Carey Mulligan - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Julia Roberts or Margo Martindale - "August: Osage County"