MovieBob - Intermission
MovieBob's 2014 Oscar Handicap

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 28 Feb 2014 17:13
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jared-leto-dallas-buyers-club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Philips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Another one-time "sure thing" called into question by an unplanned controversy. Jared Leto has been a racking up accolades for his role as a transgendered woman coping with the early days of the AIDs crisis, but questions of whether or not it can still be (or ever was) appropriate to cast a non-transgendered actors to play trans roles has turned the film and Leto's performance in it into a point of protest in some circles. It's doubtful that a plurality of Academy members are dialed-into the nuances of this particular controversy, however, so it's not likely to hurt his chances.

If it does, the next guy in line is probably Cooper - though if you like to make the big, show-offy bet Barkhad Abdi is probably the longest shot that might still actually have a chance (this is his first professional acting role, and The Academy is quite enamored of a Hollywood's rags-to-riches mythology and its own ability to play a part in it).

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

Without question, the toughest of the "big" categories, even though it's effectively seen as a two-woman race between Nyong'o and Lawrence.

Lawrence is Hollywood's Precious Princess of the moment: Young, model-gorgeous, obviously talented, a major box-office draw with a money-printing franchise and she's eager (to say nothing of capable) of doing prestige drama as well. Plus she's well-liked in the business, meaning that even though she just won last year there'd be a certain widely-felt satisfaction in seeing her made Prom Queen for another night.

On the other hand, everything else is running Lupita's way. She's a force of nature in Slave, she's the new darling of the talk-show and red-carpet scene, and - let's be real about this - a lot of Slave's momentum is based on the historical touchstone that would be a big Oscar haul for a film directed-by, starring and focused on the history of Africans/African-Americans; and Nyong'o's status as a Kenyan actress new to Hollywood is symbolic of the whole. My bet would be on her.

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