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The 22 Oscar Nominations We'd Most Like To See Tomorrow (But Probably Won't)

by Oliver Lyttelton
January 15, 2014 2:08 PM
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We're a little under 24 hours away from the arrival of the 2014 Oscar nominations: tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. EST/5:30 a.m. PST, Chris Hemsworth will drag his space viking physique out of bed to join Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in reading out the nominations. We made our predictions yesterday, and as you've seen, many of the categories are still in flux, with the potential for lots of shocks and surprises to follow tomorrow morning.

But what of the poor films and performers who were never really in the hunt? Oscar prognostication is valuable in many ways, but there's a slight sense that it leads to a narrative that's hard to break out of—if enough people say that a film's an Oscar nominee, do the Academy follow suit? (We're planning an experiment for next year, by using the term "Best Picture front-runner 'I, Frankenstein' as often as possible" and seeing what happens.)

Back in November and December, we spent some time highlighting the performances that we thought were deserving of being at least in the conversation. We'll see tomorrow if the Academy were listening (spoiler: no, they weren't, they were watching "Saving Mr. Banks"), but to bring us into the home stretch before the nominations, we thought we'd pick out some of our favorites again, as well as talk about a few other nominations that we'd love to see (but are, frankly, very unlikely to). Take a look below, and let us know your own wish-list in the comments section.

Best Supporting Actress: Joanna Scanlan - "The Invisible Woman"
Among a very fine cast led by the terrific (and also awards-worthy) Felicity Jones, the absolute stand-out of Ralph Fiennes' underrated biopic of Nelly Ternan, the long-time mistress of Charles Dickens, is a face who may not be especially familiar to American audiences—Joanna Scanlan, who plays Dickens' wife Catherine. Scanlan is best-known in the U.K. for her amazing performance as civil service jobsworth Terri in Armando Iannucci's "The Thick of It," and as the co-creator and star of dark nursing comedy "Getting On" (recently remade by HBO). But given the comic nature of those parts, she's a rather unexpected face to see in a role like this; a woman whose marriage has been sexless and loveless for so long that she's become cold out of self-preservation but who can't disguise the deep hurt when she finds that she's been betrayed. Scanlan only has a few brisk scenes, and is mostly absent from the second half of the film, but she makes an indelible and crucial impression on the whole: one scene in particular, as she comes to Ternan to deliver a present from Dickens that was delivered to her by mistake, is one of the most heartbreaking, generous and powerful bits of acting I've seen all year. Unfortunately, Scanlan's low profile, and the lack of heat on the film as a whole, will see her overlooked.

Best Supporting Actress: Adepero Oduye - "12 Years a Slave"
Bar Brad Pitt's distractingly saintly late-game cameo, almost every performer in "12 Years a Slave" could make a strong argument for picking up an acting nomination: it's an ensemble of such depth and diversity that an Oscar-nominated actress can crop up almost unnoticed in the opening scenes (yep, that's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" star Quvenzhane Wallis as Solomon Northup's daughter). The film looks like it'll lead to nods for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and, in the Supporting Actress category, breakout star Lupita Nyong'o, but there's plenty more where they came from. In terms of supporting actresses in the film alone, Sarah Paulson continues to demonstrate what an asset she is to filmmakers with her loathsome, but recognizably human mistress, and Alfre Woodard risks walking away with the whole film with an enormously impressive one-scene cameo, one of the movie's highlights. But if we had to pick one other actress to join Nyong'o as a nominee, it'd be Adepero Oduye. The actress deserved awards attention a few years ago for her role in Sundance breakout "Pariah," which sadly didn't break into the awards race (though she picked up a Spirit Award nomination), and her role in "12 Years a Slave" is an unshowy one: she plays Eliza, a free woman captured alongside Ejiofor's Northup, and separated by Paul Giamatti's demonic slave trader from her children. It would be easy for the part to be nothing but weeping and wailing, but Oduye does a remarkable job with only a few short scenes in painting the true depths of Eliza's despair, while also going toe-to-toe with Ejiofor as she points out the kind of complacency he falls into early on. Being smaller than Nyong'o's part, it's been overlooked in the awards season, but hopefully it'll remind filmmakers of Oduye's talent going forward.

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  • Marlene Waller | March 1, 2014 10:54 PMReply

    I really enjoyed Prisoners and Her, although I didn't see all the movies. Hollywood is clearly deliberately ignoring the talent of Joaquim Phoenix. Don't understand the hype over Wall Street which was way over the top, a caricature except for the performance of the federal agent, as you stated. The choices as always are primarily politically driven.

  • Bartleby | January 26, 2014 3:27 PMReply

    Isn't it the case that Scarlett Johannson is ineligible for an acting award because she does not appear on screen? Isn't that why Andy Serkis was never nominated for Lord of the Rings or Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Or, perhaps reaching a bit, James Earl Jones for Darth Vader?

    I know I was really frustrated a few years ago when what I would argue was the best score of the 2000s decade--There Will Be Blood--was cut out because it sampled some music.

    The Academy only recently added Best Animated Feature, they need to continue to move into the 21st Century by recognizing such performances.

  • FP | January 18, 2014 2:10 PMReply

    Oliver, as always, you prove out why this is my favorite place on IndieWire. An excellent and thorough accounting of the films and performances that will stay with us long past March 3rd.

  • FP | January 18, 2014 2:02 PMReply

    Are we talking about the same MUD? Did this morph into a conversation about Misty Day and the swamp in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN? Because if you meant the MUD where Reese Witherspoon swans around in short shorts with nothing to do except look like a trailer trashy Helen of Troy as a grown man sends boys out to do his bidding, I think I recoil in horror at the idea that this is a better film than 12 YEARS A SLAVE, WINTER'S BONE, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, MEMENTO, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, THE INSIDER, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. The idea conveyed in MUD is, women make you do stupid sh!t. Pity that women think so highly of it.

  • suzaman | January 17, 2014 1:48 PMReply

    I called the Academy about Mud it wasnt just the best picture of the year but the past 15 years

  • Debbie | January 17, 2014 12:03 AMReply

    Prisoners had some great acting! And what about "Mud"??????? I loved that movie. And thought those young boys were awesome in it.

  • Me | January 16, 2014 1:32 AMReply

    Joaquin Phoenix? Her was a back step for him, there were moments when i thought i was watching his Jimmy Emmett character.

  • Tom | January 16, 2014 1:19 AMReply

    Upstream Color in all categories, but editing especially

  • buddy | January 15, 2014 9:54 PMReply

    The title of Joaquin's documentary was 'I'm Still Here', not 'I'm Not There' which was of course the Dylan biopic.

  • buddy | January 17, 2014 5:26 PM

    ..and they corrected it. You're welcome!

  • tracy | January 15, 2014 8:14 PMReply

    And where are the noms for the BEAUTIFULLY shot, edited, cast, written, directed acted, and soundtrack of "42" !!!!!!( Sure it's a terrible title) - but Harrison Ford deserves a best supporting nomination, Don Burgess should be a shoe in for best cinematography, and though it's been a stellar year for African American leading actors - Chadwick Boseman is incredible as Jackie Robinson! Brian Helgeland's script and direction are fabulous! ( and I HATE baseball)
    I can't stand it when films that are released early in the year are COMPLETELY ignored come awards time!

  • keifer | January 15, 2014 8:06 PMReply

    I'm hoping:

    Toni Sorvillo will get a Best Actor nomination for "The Great Beauty".

    Kristin Scott Thomas will get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for "Only God Forgives".

    Joel Edgarton will get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for "The Great Gatsby".

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 16, 2014 8:18 AM

    the Frost Nixon style war of words between him and dicaprio was easily one of the best scenes of 2013

    your friend marty chase isn't too proud to come in on that though is he ?

    ha ha ha

  • Patrick | January 15, 2014 7:53 PMReply

    BEST ORIGINAL SONG - Keith Stanfield's raw freestyle in SHORT TERM 12

  • Joseph K. | January 15, 2014 7:18 PMReply

    I would love to see Danai Gurira nominated for Mother of George.

  • Xavier | January 15, 2014 7:07 PMReply

    Only God Forgives and Stoker for cinematography

  • Glass | January 15, 2014 6:19 PMReply

    I'm listening to the Prisoners score right now and it's one of my faves from last year.

    Jennifer Lame (Frances Ha) should WIN best editing - that's the coolest cutting I've seen in a movie in so long.

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 15, 2014 5:26 PMReply

    best actor Dennis Quaid AT ANY PRICE
    best supp actor Chris Evans THE ICEMAN
    best actress Brie Larson SHORT TERM 12
    best supp actress Julianne Nicholson AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY

  • Jamie | January 15, 2014 4:28 PMReply

    My biggest disappointment this year has been Prisoners fading in the race for gold. It is still being discussed at our house and has been watched three times and will probably be watched again. Most of the films nominated tomorrow will get a once over and then consigned to history. Yes the film was flawed, but it proved what a great ensemble and director can do with less than spectacular material simply by conveying twisted lives dealing with unspeakable horror.

  • cirkusfolk | January 15, 2014 4:19 PMReply

    You forgot Dennis Quaid for Best Actor in At Any Price.

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 16, 2014 8:20 AM

    sweet music to my ears :)

  • NewYorker | January 15, 2014 4:05 PMReply

    my 22 stuff i love to see get nominated but probley won't are
    1-Best Supporting Actor-James Franco
    2-Best Actor-Michael B. Jordan
    3-Best Picture-Spring Breakers.
    4-Best Supporting Actor Jon Bernthal-Wolf Of Wall Street
    5-Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Hudson-Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
    6-Best Actor Jason Bateman-Disconnect
    7-Best Cinemtaography-Disconnect
    8-Best Picture-Disconnect(was hopin for the film to maybe be the next Crash)
    9-Best Original Song-the song sang in Filly Brown
    10-Best Costume Design-Oz: Great and Powerful
    11-Best Actor-Mark Wahlberg-Lone Survivor
    12-Best Actor-Miles Teller-Spectacular Now
    13-Best Actress-Emma Watson-The Bling Ring
    14-Best Picture-Fruitvale Station
    15-Best Actress-Jane Levy for Evil Dead
    16-Best Actor-Chadwick Boseman for 42
    17-Best Supporting Actor-Bobby Cannavale for Blue jasmine
    18-best supporting actress Julianne Moore for either Don Jon or Carrie
    19-Best Costume Design Romeo & Juliet
    20-Best Actor Robert Redford for not All Is Lost but for The Company You Keep
    21-Best Makeeup-Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & Oz: Great and Powerful
    22-Best Actor-Idris Elba

  • daniel | January 15, 2014 4:02 PMReply

    I hope Amy Adams gets a nomination full stop because shes adorable and a masterful actress. I'd also love to see Oscar Isaac get recognized, I love that performance. Julie Delpy would be wonderful but isn't going to happen. Also ones that are not going to happen which is a travesty are Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux who are so stunning in Blue that its almost unbelievable their lack of recognition (even at the Baftas!).

    Anyway the film I'm most annoyed about not getting any love is MUD, which is such a terrific film and I just wonder if it had come out November/December would it be getting more love? McConaughey is great, the kids are great and in my perfect world Jeff Nichols would get an best director nomination along with McQueen, the Coens, Cuaron and Linklater. HER and WOLF aren't out in the UK yet...

  • Suzaman | January 17, 2014 1:51 PM

    Mud was the best picture of 2013. Everyone who saw it knows.

  • Oscar the grouch | January 15, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    I know I'm in the minority, especially with the staff on this site, but Her and Frances Ha are easily the two most overrated films of the year. neither is terrible but they're not worth celebrating in my opinion. I personally miss pre - wild things Jonze. I guess I'm more of a Kaufman fan.

  • Kari | January 15, 2014 6:11 PM

    I agree the Her script is its weakest link (the idea is excellent but Jonze was not that great developing it).

    Joaquin on the other hand is excellent and so charismatic!

  • JZ | January 15, 2014 2:56 PMReply

    It wouldn't be a surprise if Llewyn Davis was nominated for Best Picture.
    A Serious Man was nominated, and it wasn't exactly a typical oscar bait. Neither were No Country For Old Men or True Grit and those were nominated too. The academy has started to love the Coens, and that's good. They are in a position where they can pretty much make any film they want.

  • Kari | January 15, 2014 2:37 PMReply

    I hope Joaquin still gets a nom tomorrow and I think Amy Adam's performance in it is a way better than in Amercian Hustle.

    Also, I am still shocked with the fact Llewyn Davis is not getting the recognition it deserves. Oscar Isaac is fenomenal in it.

    Oh well...

  • HONEST MAN | January 15, 2014 5:29 PM

    American hustle is painfully overrated imo

  • Dave's Deluxe | January 15, 2014 2:21 PMReply

    What you probably mean is "The 22 Oscar Nominations I'D Most Like To See Tomorrow (But Probably Won't)".

    Also, you don't need the word "Most" in that sentence.

  • Liz | January 15, 2014 7:19 PM

    "Most" is perfectly fine in the headline. It's indicating that there are more than 22 things he'd like to see tomorrow, but these are his top 22 choices. It's similar to an intensifier.

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