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Oscar Contest - Category Highlight - Lead Acting Roles

February 21st, 2008

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at Best Female Actor in a Lead Role and Best Male Actor in a Lead Role.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for acting, regardless if they are for supporting roles, lead roles, or even part of a cast.)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Tomatometer Score: 34% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Four Oscars, six Golden Globes, one Independent Spirit Awards, eight SAG
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar, one Golden Globe, and two SAG
Notes: Cate Blanchett is the most acclaimed actress on this list, in fact, she's earned two Oscar nominations this year alone. However, her other Oscar nod will work against her here. Not only will it cause a bit of vote-splitting, I'm Not There is the vastly superior film and I can't imagine a lot of Oscar voters will give her an award for the weaker of her two nominated performances this year.

Julie Christie for Away from Her
Tomatometer Score: 95% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe and SAG
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Three Oscars, two Golden Globes, one Independent Spirit Awards, one SAG
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar and one Independent Spirit Awards
Notes: Away from Her is the best movie on this list and Julie Christie has won both of the previous awards she was nominated for. A lot of voters will want to give this movie something, but it's either this category or Best Adapted Screenplay, and this one seems a lot more likely. Not a lock, but certainly the favorite.

Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose
Tomatometer Score: 73% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: None
Actor's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Not the best movie on this list, but Marion Cotillard was certainly the best part of the movie. She did win a Golden Globe, which is good news, but she was up for the Musical / Comedy and wasn't up against Julie Christie. On the other hand, she was up against her at the SAGs and lost, which is the likely result here.

Laura Linney for The Savages
Tomatometer Score: 90% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Two Oscars, two Golden Globes, two Independent Spirit Awards, and three SAG
Actor's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This was arguably one of the biggest shock when the Oscars nominations were announced, and easily the biggest shock in this category. That is not to say Laura Linney doesn't deserve the nomination, but it does mean she is less likely to win. I see no reason to suspect she won't earn more nominations in the future and should win something major, hopefully soon.

Ellen Page for Juno
Tomatometer Score: 93% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Awards, and SAG.
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: None
Actor's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: If I had a vote, I would vote for Ellen Page in this category. However, I don't think she has a real shot for two reasons. Firstly, she's way too young. As I've said many times in the past, Oscar voters tend to award experience as much as the actual performance and it is very likely they will not give her the hardware thinking she will have many opportunities in the future to win. Second, Juno's a comedy and award voters rarely comedic parts because they are less serious, and therefore can't be as difficult. It's a load of crap, but that's the reasoning behind it.

Conclusion: I personally think Ellen Page should win, but all evidence suggests Julie Christie has the advantage when it comes to Oscar voters.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

George Clooney for Michael Clayton
Tomatometer Score: 90% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscar, Five Golden Globes, one Independent Spirit Awards, seven SAG
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar, two Golden Globes, and three SAG
Notes: Michael Clayton is the third major Awards Season player for George Clooney in the past three years. And while the film is better than Syriana, for which he won his Oscar, he is a long shot here. Daniel Day-Lewis has too much momentum for anyone one else to be considered a favorite.

Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Tomatometer Score: 91% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe and SAG
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Three Oscars, four Golden Globes, one SAG
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar and one SAG
Notes: All the Oscar buzz has Daniel Day-Lewis picking up his second Oscar this Sunday. There Will Be Blood earned eight Oscar nominations and while is should pick up a couple, in no category is it the overwhelming favorite, except for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tomatometer Score: 86% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Two Oscars, seven Golden Globes, four SAGs
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One SAG
Notes: Johnny Depp is going to win his first Oscar years and years from now and everyone will think to themselves, "He was much better in..." and you could fill in the blank with a dozen films. He did finally win his first Golden Globe, but that was in the Musical / Comedy category and that is not a strong indicator for the Oscars. He will win, eventually, but not this year.

Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Tomatometer Score: 71% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Two Oscars, three Golden Globes, three SAGs
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar, one Golden Globe, and one SAG
Notes: Tommy Lee Jones was better in No Country for Old Men and No Country for Old Men was better than - In the Valley of Elah. It's hard to imagine Oscar voters voting for the actor under these circumstances. In fact, he wasn't even nominated for any other major awards for this role. (He did earn two SAG nominations, including a win as part of the cast for No Country for Old Men.)

Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises
Tomatometer Score: 89% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Three SAGs
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One SAG
Notes: Like Tommy Lee Jones above, Viggo Mortensen will be hurt by a better role in a better movie. Although Eastern Promises did earn marginally better reviews, it flopped at the box office compared to A History of Violence and this will have an effect come Oscar night. (It shouldn't, but it does.) At least he picked up some nominations this time around and maybe next time he will win.

Conclusion: This seems like a one horse race with Daniel Day-Lewis way out in front. There Will Be Blood might not win a ton of Oscars, but it practically has this one in the bag.

Prize Highlights With each category highlight, we will also take a look at the prizes we will be giving away for the Oscar Prediction contest, as well as some of the prizes we will have when our regular Box Office Prediction contests start back up after the Oscars.

This week we look at The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume Two - The War Years. The TV adaptation of the popular franchise had an epic feel to it in the adventure, in the history, and in the scope. Of the three volumes that are being released, most fans would agree that Volume Two is the best and it an excellent addition to any fan's DVD collection.

As for the Box Office prediction prize... We will have a glut of prizes to get through in the coming weeks, and this includes DVDs for recent movies like King of California, Suburban Girl, and Dedication. And those three are only part of the more than half a dozen movies we will be giving away over the coming weeks.


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Filed under: Juno, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, Eastern Promises, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, La Môme, In the Valley of Elah, The Savages, Away From Her