The Oscar race is in motion. And like a city marathon, some runners are dropping out unexpectedly.
Both “Steve Jobs” and “Truth” were thought to be Oscar players this year. Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes, respectively, seemed to be hot on the Oscar trail. They received great reviews. Alas, audiences have rejected these films. They are each more or less DOA no matter how much media (including me) loved them.
Fassbender will still go on to a nomination, I think. But Blanchett will now transfer her loyalties to Todd Haynes’s “Carol.” The failure of “Truth” boosts “Carol,” ironically. Still, I hope Robert Redford gets a nod in Best Supporting Actor for playing Dan Rather. But if history is a lesson, Redford– who didn’t help himself much with “All is Lost”– will probably not do much this time either.
Fassbender was the leader in everyone’s Best Actor races until “Steve Jobs” tanked. He gives a brilliant performance. But without box office or staying power, the movie is going to do him in. That gives a new life to the Best Actor race.
And of course Leonardo DiCaprio, the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, is ready to step in. In “The Revenant” he runs around in bear skins. He’s already said in an interview that he slept in a dead animal carcass. (He may have nodded off, but he’s not being held to Brian Williams-like standards of veracity.) Can Leo finally win Best Actor in what looks like a cold, gray outdoors adventure film light on dialogue? Could be, if nothing else materializes.
So far, Leo has a good shot. There’s Tom Hanks in “Bridge of Spies,” Michael Caine in “Youth,” each very good. I still count Fassbender in. The question marks are Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hateful Eight”– Jackson has tremendous support if the role works out. Michael B. Jordan in “Creed”? He came close in “Fruitvale Station.” Will Smith in “Concussion”?
There’a always Matt Damon in “The Martian,” another terrific performance that can easily be embraced for lots of texture and nuance. I might vote for Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight,” but so far all the actors from that movie want to be in supporting. We’ll see if Ruffalo can’t be convinced to change his mind.
And Leo? Looking better and better.