Over the weekend I saw Silver Linings Playbook and I loved it. I think it is one of the best films of the year and currently it's #4 on my top ten list of films from 2012 (Full list to come out late December or early January). SLP was my 7th most anticipated fall movie from this season and it exceeded my expectations. This film is written and directed by former Oscar nominee David O. Russell and produced by the Weinstein Company so there is no doubt Silver Linings Playbook will be up for some awards within the next few months. The question now remains is "Which ones"? Here is my predictor of which actors have the best chance to earn an Oscar nomination from their work in Playbook.
5) Chris Tucker- Best Supporting Actor
Odds Of Getting Nominated 1%
Pros: This is the first movie that Chris Tucker has been in since 2007's Rush Hour 3. Hollywood has been eagerly waiting for Tucker to finally return to the silver screen and he does so in dramatic fashion. Tucker plays a mentally ill patient who befriends Bradley Cooper's character and Tucker pops every time he is on screen.
Cons: First of all, he's not in the movie all that often. While his name appears in all the advertisements and commercials, he doesn't really appear in too many scenes. Plus, his character is not really integral to the plot or story. I enjoyed (and I'm sure so did many others) Tucker's performance but if his character wasn't in the film at all I don't think the final product of the film would be drastically different (or at all different). However, Tucker's biggest problem is that he'll be competing against a fellow co-star (more to come later).
4) Jacki Weaver- Best Supporting Actress
Odds Of Getting Nominated: 10%
Pros: For starters, Jacki Weaver is a woman. Normally sex shouldn't matter but it does when it comes to Oscar votes. Let me explain, there are not very many roles in Hollywood for women and even less juicy and Oscar-worthy roles for women. So the fact that Russell wrote a great supporting actress role (and Weaver does a really good job in that role) is already a big boost for Weaver. Weaver also has the benefit of prestige. Two years ago Weaver garnered a Best Supporting Actress nomination for a movie nobody had ever heard of (Animal Kingdom) and she might be able to parlay that nomination into another one here.
Cons: Weaver also suffers from a similar problem that Tucker has in the fact that she loses a lot of screen time to her fellow co-stars. While Weaver does have her "Oscar-worthy scenes" she still plays 4th fiddle (as we'll see below) in the film. Plus, Weaver's name doesn't appear in any advertisements for this film. You would think that because she has an Oscar nomination, this movie is a prime Oscar contender, and was written and director by a guy who also has an Oscar nomination that at ONE point during some part of the commercial the scroll "Oscar nominated actress Jacki Weaver" would have appeared on the screen, but alas it did not. Few scenes plus few promotions could equal bad news for Weaver.
3) Bradley Cooper- Best Actor
Odds Of Getting Nominated: 75%
Pros: Cooper is excellent in this film. Acting extremely well is the first step to getting nominated and this movie far and away showcases Bradley Cooper's amazing acting chops. Cooper benefits from an amazing script (as most Oscar nominated actors do) as well as benefits from playing a mentally ill person. There is an unspoken rule in Hollywood (or quite loudly spoken if you've ever seen Tropic Thunder) that if you play a mentally challenged person you're guaranteed to get an Oscar vote. Bradley Cooper plays a manic/depressive bi-polar who's prone to mood swings which is a "prime disorder" for Oscar voters. As Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, and Sean Penn in I Am Sam (among others) have proven, playing a mentally ill character almost guarantees you an Oscar nomination. It also helps Cooper that this movie is excellent. SLP has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes (and 90% among top critics) as well as an 81 on Metacritic. Cooper carries a great film which will go a long way for him.
Cons: The Best Actor race is always generally deep but 2012 seems even deeper than before. 2012 might be the deepest year for great films in my lifetime and with that brings along a super deep class of great actors. As of this moment, there are three spots that seem to be guarantee locks which is Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, and Denzel Washington for Flight. While this is a list I don't personally agree with (I would rank Cooper #2 behind Phoenix), it is not my vote that matters and this is a tough uphill battle for Cooper.
Even with those three "mortal locks" Cooper still has to compete with other great contenders. Hitfix's In Contention blog has Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and John Hawkes (The Sessions) garnering the last two nominations and that still doesn't include Ben Affleck (Argo) and Christoph Waltz/Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained), and Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock).
With all that being said, the fact that Silver Linings Playbook is a comedy (at least a comedy in terms of awards voters) then I could see Cooper gaining momentum come Oscar time. The Golden Globes can heavily sway Oscar voters and the Globes, unlike the Oscars, split their awards into two categories: Drama and Comedy/Musical. Cooper's name will be thrown into the comedy ring while Day-Lewis, Phoenix, and Washington will be in the Drama category. Unfortunately for Cooper he will still have to compete against Hugh Jackman but if Cooper can win Best Actor at the Golden Globes then he can slingshot himself into an Oscar nomination.
2) Robert De Niro- Best Supporting Actor
Odds Of Getting Nominated: 95%
Pros: Come on, he's Robert freaking De Niro. This is a man who has six Oscar nominations and one win. This man is a legend in Hollywood. De Niro would probably get an Oscar nomination without any voter actually seeing this film. It does help that De Niro has his first memorable role since Meet The Parents and stars in his first great film since Heat. De Niro plays a man with severe OCD (which helps his chances, see: Cooper, Bradley above) and there's a scene towards the end of the film where De Niro gives a big and heart-warming speech to Cooper that probably locked his nomination up.
Cons: The only way De Niro doesn't get a nomination is if 1) Silver Linings Playbook gets completely snubbed altogether like Drive did last year or 2) The Oscar voters see the truly deep field De Niro plays in and decide there are other worthy candidates. Truthfully, I think De Niro is guaranteed a nomination but I didn't give him a 100% chance because I left that solely for...
1) Jennifer Lawrence- Best Actress
Odds Of Getting Nominated: 100%
Pros: I have a theory about Meryl Streep. My theory is that she has a shit ton of Oscar nominations just because there are so few good movies in Hollywood with women in the lead role and Streep always gets first dibs of those roles. Streep is of course an amazing actress and deserves to get first dibs but the reason she has a whopping SEVENTEEN nominations is largely due to her gender. Of course talent and longevity play huge factors but the aforementioned De Niro- who has both in spades- only has six nominations. I'm not "ripping" on Streep because I'm sexist (in fact I think Hollywood is the sexist one for not making more movies with women at the center of it) but to prove a point. I think if you're a woman and you're in an "Oscar-worthy" role, you're guaranteed to get a nomination.
If you don't believe me, go back and look at past nominations in the Best Actress category. Ask yourself 1) Have you ever heard of the movie the actress starred in?, 2) If so, have you seen it? and 3) If you haven't seen it, do you have any desire to see it? While there will always be 1 or 2 movies every year you've seen and loved (Black Swan from 2010 comes to mind), chances are you answered "no" to all three questions the vast majority of the time. Go back and do the same for the movies that gave us Best Actor contenders. I bet that you will answer "yes" a helluva lot more times.
Now even with this theory in place, I don't mean to take anything away from Jennifer Lawrence who gave an amazing performance in Silver Linings Playbook. However, her great performance alone is not necessarily enough to get an Oscar nomination. The fact that Lawrence's competition is extremely weak (and generally this category is extremely weak) means we're guaranteed to see commercials in 2013 for Catching Fire starring Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence.
Most likely, here is Lawrence's competition. Again, ask yourself the three questions I asked you before:
- Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
- Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
- Marion Cottilliard (Rust and Bone)
- Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
- Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
- Kiera Knightly (Anna Karenina)
- Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) [Although she might be eligible only for Supporting Actress]
- Meryl Streep (Hope Springs) [She might get a nomination just because]
I'm sure there's more but the fact that I'm struggling to come up with more names and not names like "Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas"- stars who are eligible but give terrible performances and/or are in terrible films- tells you all you need to know about my theory.
I'm sure every year you can find five worthy Best Actress candidates but remember, Oscar voters are normal people too. It's hard to get nominated if no one has seen your work. I think the fact that Lawrence is in a great in a movie that Oscar voters will see helps her chances immensely.
Cons: None. I think even if Silver Linings Playbook gets completely snubbed in other categories Lawrence will still get a nomination because she did an amazing job, her pedigree (she was nominated for an Oscar in 2010 for Winter's Bone), and her lack of competition.
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