On a regular basis between now and March 4, 2018, when the winners of the Academy Awards are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes in this year’s Oscars race. In our Oscar Futures column, we’ll let you in on insider gossip, parse brand-new developments, and track industry buzz to figure out who’s up, who’s down, and who’s currently leading the race for a coveted Oscar nomination.
It surely must have rattled Team Post last week when the movie was wholly snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but the journalism drama’s best days are ahead of it, now that The Post is debuting this week to very good reviews. With Steven Spielberg’s imprimatur and Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks toplining, it will likely be one of the highest-grossing Best Picture contenders, and that counts for a lot since its momentum is coming so late in the game.
Alexander Payne is one of the Academy’s favorite auteurs, and he is coming off a three-movie streak where Sideways, The Descendants, and Nebraska all earned him Best Director and Best Picture nods. But all good streaks must come to an end — just ask David O. Russell, who followed his own Oscar hat trick with the maligned Joy — and Downsizing, with all its ambitious sprawl and flaws, has had a rough awards-season go of it so far. (It’s also the first Alexander Payne film to be scored rotten.) For now, I’m fairly certain that Downsizing will score an Oscar nod in Best Supporting Actress for Hong Chau, and no more than that.
Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World
When you see a lot of movies, it can be easy to spot the bits that were rejiggered in postproduction: a bit of ADR looping here, or a reshoots wig there. It’s astonishing, then, that Scott’s last-minute reshoots for All the Money in the World are so seamless. You would never know from looking at the film that within the last month, Scott hired Christopher Plummer to replace the disgraced Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, shooting his scenes in a matter of days and splicing them back into the picture. The directors branch will certainly appreciate Scott’s audacious feat, but if he couldn’t even score a Best Director nod when The Martian was nominated for Best Picture, it’ll be even more difficult to make the short list for All the Money in the World, a Best Picture long shot.
Steven Spielberg, The Post
With newbies like Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele in the mix, as well as under-recognized veterans like Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, and Martin McDonagh, could this year’s Best Director race be comprised wholly of helmers who are new to the category? If Steven Spielberg has his way, he’ll play spoiler, though this is a tough category Spielberg couldn’t crack two years ago when Bridge of Spies was nominated for Best Picture and won Best Supporting Actor. In his favor: Picking Spielberg and his movie will feel like a rebuke of Trump’s attacks on the press.
Tom Hanks, The Post
It’s been a surprisingly long time since Hanks, a two-time Oscar winner, scored his last nomination: Nearly two decades have passed since 2000’s Castaway earned him a nod. His Captain Phillips snub was one of that year’s most notable omissions, and raised the question: Have we started taking Tom Hanks for granted? I think this year’s Best Actor lineup is thin enough that he could slip in for his solid but hardly needle-moving performance in The Post, but who of the presumed five would he knock out? I’m going to venture a real dark-horse guess: Phantom Thread’s Daniel Day-Lewis may be more vulnerable than you’d expect given the film’s very late arrival, Day-Lewis’s subdued performance, and a recent Academy screening that felt underpopulated.
Christian Bale, Hostiles
Director Scott Cooper gave Jeff Bridges his Oscar-winning role in Crazy Heart, and has since helmed two dramas with baity male leads — Out of the Furnace and Black Mass — that nevertheless haven’t clicked with the Academy. I think Hostiles will follow in that tradition: Though Bale is an actor’s favorite who is in his element here as a calvary officer slowly coming around to the Native American plight, the film is opening this week to little buzz.
Meryl Streep, The Post
“With small tilts of her head, darting looks, nervous flutters and a Brahmin imperiousness that gradually eases and warms, Ms. Streep creates an acutely moving portrait of a woman who in liberating herself helps instigate a revolution,” wrote Times critic Manohla Dargis about this latest Streep turn, which incorporates so many of the things that the Academy loves from the two-time winner: As Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, she’s playing a real person, doing a highly precise voice, and nabbing several applause moments that will only resonate more strongly in the era of Trump.
Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World
Our critic David Edelstein was most knocked out by All the Money in the World’s female lead, writing, “My guess is that there was one overriding factor in Scott’s decision to rebuild sets and summon back his actors: The fear that Spacey’s presence would distract the world (which includes Oscar voters) from the marvelous performance of Michelle Williams as Gail. It’s a real transformation.” In another year, this would be a no-brainer nomination for Williams, who’s been recognized by the Academy four times before, but there is simply so much firepower in this category that it will be hard for her to get a late foothold. Her Golden Globe nomination helps, and a shock win would be even better.
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, All the Money In the World
Has anyone ever been Oscar-nominated for a film they weren’t even a part of until weeks before release? Plummer should be the first to manage that unlikely feat: He’s a hoot as the imperious Getty, has plenty to play, and digs into all of his scenes with the confidence of someone who’d spent months researching the role. This is the sort of part that was already likely to catch Oscar’s eye; that Plummer managed to ace it with so little time to prepare will further increase his odds.
Bob Odenkirk, The Post
Spielberg assembled a great collection of character actors for The Post and a fun Odenkirk makes the strongest impression of the supporting cast, but the role isn’t sizable enough to derail the men who are already locked and loaded in this category.
Best Supporting Actress
Hong Chau, Downsizing
I don’t think the Academy will snub an Alexander Payne film across the board, as unwieldy as this one is. Chau is the strongest shot as a monologue-nailing dissident who basically runs away with the back half of the film, and after Best Supporting Actress sure-bets Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf, I think she’s the most comfortably positioned in this category.
Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
Keep hope alive! The irrepressible breakout star of one of 2017’s biggest comedies was blanked by both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, but perhaps the outcry from both snubs finally prompted Universal to get its head in the game: The studio actually sent Girls Trip screeners to the Academy this past week, meaning voters will have one last look at Haddish’s wild-card performance.