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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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Best Supporting Actress - Amy Adams - "Her"
Amy Adams may or may not turn out to be an Oscar nominee tomorrow—in the lead category, for the first time—for her performance in David O. Russell's "American Hustle," but she's hardly new to the supporting category: she's been nominated four times, though has never won. But neither of these things should mean that her turn in Spike Jonze's "Her," which we'd argue is an even better performance than her one in "American Hustle," should be overlooked. An entire world away from her British-accent-adopting hustler/survivor in the David O. Russell film, she plays one of the quartet of women (along with Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and, of course, the vocal chords of Scarlett Johansson) on which the film pivots, in this case a close friend of Joaquin Phoenix's Theodore, who has her own marital difficulties and her own burgeoning relationship with an A.I. She's, ultimately, a sort of device, allowing parallels to be drawn with Theodore while serving as an added love interest for when it all goes sour with Samantha. But Adams does an enormous amount in terms of turning Amy into a real, fleshed out person, who, like Phoenix's character, is a little beaten down by life, capable of great anger or sadness but still warm and alive. It's one of our favorite Adams performances to date, and off the back of her wildly different turns in "The Master" and "American Hustle," is essentially proof that Adams should pretty much be in everything.

Best Supporting Actor - Jake Gyllenhaal - "Prisoners"
While it was warmly received at Telluride and Toronto, awards buzz dissipated quickly for "Prisoners," which, while liked by critics and audiences, was likely ultimately too pulpy to make much of an impression on a competitive race. It's a shame, because while the film's occasionally silly in its plotting, it's one of the more absorbing and well-made pure thrillers in recent years, and Jake Gyllenhaal gave a legitimately awards-worthy performance in it. On paper, the ludicrously named Detective Loki is a cliché: a loner cop who's solved every case he's ever had, and isn't going to let his latest one defeat him. But Gyllenhaal makes it something stranger than the archetype: with a blinking tic, tattoos and borderline Asperger-y social skills, he hints at a darker past a long way from his current path of law and order, one that the performance and film is smart enough to keep in the margins. Almost every choice the actor makes is a little unexpected, and his off-beat rhythms clash beautifully with Hugh Jackman's terrifying, grief-stricken revenge-bear. Clearly, Gyllenhaal and "Prisoners" director Denis Villeneuve have found fruitful collaborators in each other, as Playlisters who saw their other film together, "Enemy" (due for release next year), suggest it's something to get equally excited about. But for now, we're just pleased that the actor was able to elevate material that might have been by-the-numbers into one of the more exciting performances of the year.

Best Supporting Actor - Ben Foster - "Ain't Them Bodies Saints"
Quietly, for fifteen years or so, Ben Foster has been doing absolutely sterling work on a consistent basis, standing out even in questionable affairs like "Hostage" and "360." He might well be in the awards running for real next year, playing Lance Armstrong for Stephen Frears, but he certainly deserves to be in the conversation this time around. Though he's also put out strong work in "Lone Survivor" and "Kill Your Darlings," his performance in "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" is certainly the best in that film, and might be the best of his career to date. The focus of David Lowery's film is on the one-time runaway lovers played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, but the real heart of the picture is Foster's Patrick Wheeler. Patrick is a police officer who was wounded by a shot from Mara's Ruth during their stand-off, though he believes it was fired by Affleck's Bob. The years pass, and Patrick has befriended Ruth, and, being desperately in love with her, clearly wants more. Decency is a difficult thing for an actor to play without seeming dull, but Foster manages it here: Wheeler is a genuinely good man, one that represents a new life for Ruth, and there's a quiet stoicism to the way that he conducts himself that's deeply moving. The film subtly shifts its attentions to him as it closes, to the extent that you end up wishing that the focus had been on Foster throughout: it's the best kind of supporting turn, the one that feels like it could be a lead in a different movie.

Best Supporting Actor - Kyle Chandler - "The Wolf of Wall Street"
This year saw the Academy add a branch for casting directors, which has only intensified long-brewing talk that the Oscars should introduce a category honoring the often unsung people who fill movies with actors. No movie made that argument better this year than "The Wolf of Wall Street," and the work of casting director Ellen Lewis. Scorsese's latest picture has a ridiculously deep bench, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill doing career-best work, and with a whole host of unexpected figures turning in stellar performances, from veterans Rob Reiner and Joanna Lumley, to breakout star Margot Robbie, to smart filmmaker cameos like Spike Jonze and Jon Favreau, to the mostly unknown faces like P.J. Byrne, Aya Cash, Kenneth Choi and Henry Zebrowski, mostly drawn from the comedy world, who play Jordan Belfort's co-workers. But one of our favorite performances in the film comes from an actor who isn't exactly doing something unexpected. The idea of Kyle Chandler playing a straight-arrow FBI agent is sort of a no-brainer, but the actor takes minimal screen time and turns what could have been a generic role into something delightfully specific. The scene where he comes face-to-face with Belfort on the yacht is a terrific bit of writing, and an even better bit of acting, Chandler's Jimmy Stewart-esque aw-shucks facade gradually slipping to reveal the utter contempt that he holds for Belfort and those like him. Between that and his impressive performance in "The Spectacular Now," it's increasingly clear that Chandler's capable of much more than just being Coach Taylor.

Best Actress - Brie Larson - "Short Term 12"
Honestly, what's the point of even holding an awards ceremony in the year 2013 if you're not going to recognize one of the standout performances of the last twelve months? It's not to say that Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson et al. aren't deserving, but the slim likelihood of recognition for Brie Larson's thunderbolt of a performance in indie sleeper "Short Term 12" is the sort of thing that makes us want to tune out every ceremony between now and the end of February. Larson's been an actress of clear promise for a little while now, with striking turns in the likes of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," "Rampart" and "21 Jump Street," but they barely hinted at the kind of range and depth the 24-year-old actress demonstrates in Destin Daniel Cretton's film as Grace, the supervisor of a foster-care facility with her own troubled history in the system. Seemingly playing older than her years, there's something deeply selfless and maternal about Grace, but with actual motherhood fast approaching, and a reminder of her own childhood popping up in the face of fiery abuse victim Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever, who's also great), the solid, responsible sense of composure falls away to reveal the fiery, fragile person underneath. Larson has to turn on a dime to pull off the many different facets of the character, and does so without the strain even nearly starting to show. She might not be a nominee now, but expect many to come over the years.

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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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