Brad Pitt gives all the credit to his kids for strengthening his relationship with Angelina Jolie. https://t.co/q5ldcXpmfm— ExtraTV (@extratv) November 6, 2015
PODCAST: How Angelina Jolie, Spike Lee, Tarantino and STAR WARS complicate the fall season: https://t.co/ylxkDDNbjm pic.twitter.com/lbOJRHG8CC— Indiewire (@indiewire) November 6, 2015
This week on Oscar Futures, BY THE SEA debuts and two likely Best Picture nominees come out: https://t.co/RZdFwbrNXb pic.twitter.com/qIfTU1XFeX— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) November 6, 2015
Spotlight. Almost two months ago, I called Spotlight the Best Picture front-runner, and after reading this week's rave reviews, I'm inclined to double down. Still, Spotlight's modest sobriety means it could be vulnerable to a showier, more emotional contender, and a worthy rival could emerge in one of this winter's unseen heavyweights (like The Revenant and Joy) or even the currently surging Room.
Brooklyn. Possessed of an even higher Tomatometer than the superstrong Spotlight, the gentle Irish immigrant story Brooklyn has received almost universally strong reviews since debuting earlier this year at Sundance, and now general audiences can fall in love with it, too. The film has an emotional resonance that sneaks up on you, and it could prove to be a sleeper hit with Oscar voters.
Current Predix: Brooklyn, The Danish Girl, Inside Out, Joy, The Martian; The Revenant, Room, Spotlight, Steve Jobs, Youth
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight. I don't doubt that McCarthy will be nominated for Best Director, but even if his movie wins, will McCarthy's unshowy steerage of Spotlight find reward, too? Lately, this category has recognized flashier helmers, and there's another opportunity to hand McCarthy an Oscar in the screenplay category, where he'd be just as deserving.
Angelina Jolie, By the Sea. In her third directorial effort (which premiered last night at AFI Fest), Jolie proves that she has an eye, if not always an ear. An intimate martial drama starring her and husband Brad Pitt, By the Sea is lush and tonally persuasive, and Jolie has got a gift for striking images (it helps, of course, that she and Pitt are some mighty striking movie stars). But she wrote the picture, too, and aside from an almost-provocative middle section, the screenplay makes awfully few waves.
Current Predix: Lenny Abrahamson, Room; Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant; Tom McCarthy, Spotlight; David O. Russell, Joy; Ridley Scott, The Martian
Brad Pitt, By the Sea. Pitt's an Oscar winner for producing 12 Years a Slave, but he's never taken home a trophy for his acting, despite three nominations. By the Sea is an intriguing departure for him — hell, half of his performance is delivered in French — and if it were directed by a venerated European filmmaker instead of his famous wife, he might be given more left-field respect for it. But I suspect Pitt's performance will continue to fly under Oscar's radar.
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo. Five-time Emmy winner Cranston should never be counted out of an awards-season conversation, though reaction to his Dalton Trumbo biopic has been mixed. "It's rotten when a movie for grown-ups talks to its audience as if it were a child," said Manohla Dargis in the Times, who also docked Cranston for his "bellowing and mugging."
Current Predix: Matt Damon, The Martian; Johnny Depp, Black Mass; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs; Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn. "Ms. Ronan uses everything — her posture, her eyebrows, her breath, her teeth, her pores — to convey a process of change that is both seismic and subtle," raves A.O. Scott in the Times, noting that the once-nominated Ronan "has grown from an uncannily intelligent child actor into a screen performer of remarkable force and sensitivity."
Angelina Jolie, By the Sea. Jolie has never directed herself in a film before, though in real life she has always been a canny purveyor of her own image. What's interesting about her By the Sea performance, then, is how willing she is to treat herself as an opaque prop, posed implacably next to the more vulnerable Pitt. Still, that sort of withholding performance isn't the sort of thing that catches Oscar's fancy.
Current Predix: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Jennifer Lawrence, Joy; Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years; Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Keaton, Spotlight. Keaton came close to taking home the gold last year for Best Picture winner Birdman. If he manages two Best Picture victories in a row, will voters also reward the man this time? He'll need a groundswell: He's very good in Spotlight, but so is everybody else, and one of his co-stars delivers a showier performance than Keaton's subtle simmer.