Welcome to Talkin’ Oscars, the final installment in an open-ended three-part series in which our two writers discuss the recently announced nominations for the 86th Academy Awards. Our discussion ends with a look at the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards, as well as pretty much everything else. Read our look at the Best Actor and Best Actress races from Wednesday and our thoughts from Tuesday on the Best Picture race. Andrew Johnson: There's nothing like the Oscars to diminish your faith in the human race, I guess. Look at us, though. We're both #TeamLeo (for Best Actor). We might as well be teenage girls in 1999. Let's keep moving by looking to the Best Supporting Actress race.
It pits America's current darling, Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), against America's former darling, Julia Roberts (August: Osage County). Lawrence would appear to be the favorite and she is easily the best part of Hustle. Also nominated are June Squibb (Nebraska), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine).
I've seen this field described as weak elsewhere, but that's not a sentiment I can support. I would be happy to see Lawrence, Squibb or Nyong'o win, and I think they would all be deserving. There's a depth and breadth to the various performances here that I don't believe is being credited enough.
Anyway, my choice would be Nyong'o. Her desperation and despair as Patsey, the slave who receives the worst of the Edwin Epps' (Matthew Fassbender) attention was powerful and haunting.
Steve Cimino: I do not know a single person in the world who's seen August: Osage County, so it would blow me away if Julia Roberts makes any sort of noise in this category. She's yesterday's news.
I really enjoyed the other four performances, though. While Squibb was a bit over the top at times (how much of her praise comes back to the joy in watching old people curse?) she brought a lot of passion to a colorful role. I don't think Lawrence is the best part of Hustle (science oven! science oven!) but she's certainly earned all the rapturous applause. Nyong'o stole almost every one of her scenes in 12 Years, and Hawkins made me believe that Andrew Dice Clay, Louis CK and Bobby Cannavale were lovable. That's an award-worthy task.
It's going to Lawrence (this may actually be the biggest lock of the night) but I'll quietly be rooting for Hawkins. If it'll appeases the cinema gods further, I'll also rent Happy-Go-Lucky sometime between now and the Oscars.
I'm far more intrigued by the Best Supporting Actor showdown. I thought Jared Leto was all style and no substance, but it appears that at least the Hollywood Foreign Press disagrees. And there's a long history of awards being handed out to actors and actresses who severely alter their physical appearance for a role. I guess dressing up like a woman counts.
My vote goes to Michael Fassbender, because he's just the best. Going from pure evil slave master to papier-mâché head-wearing rock star? Talk about range. Give that man all the gold statues.
Let's also not forget that we live in a world where Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper are both two-time Academy Award nominees. Makes you wonder what the hell we're doing with our own lives.
AJ: I wouldn't have predicted it just a half-decade ago, but it's hard to argue that at least Hill doesn't deserve it. I absolutely loved him in The Wolf of Wall Street. I don't think he has much of a chance here, but it feels like his stunning climb to dramatic legitimacy as an actor is a victory all by itself.
I'm with you on Fassbender, with the major caveat that I can't speak to the performances by Leto and Abdi just yet (I'll be able to by Oscar night). It doesn't really matter if he wins this year, in my opinion, because the guy has turned in to one of the very best actors we have and it seems like a matter of if not when he gets a gold statue.
But, you know, he was great as Edwin Epps -- the portrait of menacing, unrepentant and unchecked evil. Almost more than Ejiofor, his performance in 12 Years a Slave is the one I'll never forget.
I think Leto is probably the favorite at this point, but here's a point in the favor of someone like Fassbender: this category has been favorable to villains in recent years. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) count for three of the past six winners. Maybe Fassbender's dark turn will appeal to voters in this category. Maybe I'm grasping at straws.
What other categories are you keeping your eye on in the run up to March 2? I usually have a rotating few that I keep an eye on depending on what (or who) the nominees happen to be.
SC: I'm not sure if this Villain Theory of yours will hold up come Oscar night, but I do agree that it's a category where voters seem OK with taking chances. Best Picture and Best Actor/Actress are usually reserved for the Important Movies, but Supporting and Screenplay are where the freaks get a chance to shine.
Not expecting that this year, though. Pretty sure we'll see Hustle take home Original Screenplay and 12 Years take home Adapted Screenplay, leading up to an epic showdown that only Gravity could possibly disrupt. It's almost exciting, except for the fact that it'll take four boring hours to resolve and nothing actually changes once it's over.
Other categories that excite me? I guess I want Llewyn Davis to win Sound Mixing because, well, it's almost entirely about the creation and interpretation of sound (read: music) and it would be a shame if it didn't win one goddamn award for something related to that. I would also love to see Bad Grandpa beat Dallas Buyers Club in Makeup and Hairstyling, because it's 2014 and it's time for the guys who made Jackass to win an Oscar.
AJ: I'm sensing that you're more mischievous than I am when it comes to the other big awards based on your support of Bad Grandpa. Viva Knoxville, I guess. I'm glad you've conveniently passed by the Best Director award, a category that gets a ridiculous amount of attention considering the fact that it shouldn't even exist.
What is the difference between Best Picture and Best Director anyway? I've never been able to tell, and it seems like the Academy can't either because it's a big deal whenever the winning Director didn't work on the Best Picture, as it was last year when Ang Lee won for Life of Pi and Argo won the big award. (Remember Ben Affleck wasn't even nominated for the award.) I guess I just don't understand how the deliverable for Best Directing is any different than Best Picture. Someone can presumably evaluate great cinematography. But directing? It's not like you can even know that someone called for that 47th take in a key scene much less begin to evaluate the relative merits of that to another nominee's work.
Anyway, I'll wrap this up by throwing my support behind Frozen in every category it could possibly win. That was a great little film (I suppose it's big now, based on the box office totals) and it deserves to have some shiny gold cast its way.
With that ... we're done for now. Keep coming back over the next few weeks as we continue our coverage of the Oscars right up until the big night, March 2.
Don't forget to check out the first two parts of our series on the Best Picture race and the Best Actor and Best Actress races. And keep coming back to us for Oscars analysis leading up to the big night.