Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Oscar Race Changes: DiCaprio, Blanchett in “Carol” Rise as “Steve Jobs,” “Truth” Collapse


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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