This will be the million dollar question throughout the upcoming Oscar season. Most agree that Leonardo DiCaprio is long over due for an Oscar win. He has been nominated 5 times.

1993– Best supporting actor- WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE. (Tommy Lee Jones won for THE FUGITIVE)

2004– Best actor nomination- THE AVIATOR (Jamie Fox won for RAY)

2006 -Best actor nomination – BLOOD DIAMOND (Forest Whitaker won for LAST MAN IN SCOTLAND)

2013 – Best Actor – THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Matthew Mcconaughy won for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB)

There are several Tumblr pages dedicated to his plight :
Poor Leo Tumblr Page
Leonardo Oscar

This year DiCaprio tries again in THE REVENANT.  Alejandro González Iñárritu’s follow-up to BIRDMAN, last years best picture winner.

Based on the novel by Michael Punke, THE REVENANT is based on true story.  DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a fur trapper who is injured in a fight with a bear. His colleague John Fitzgerald played Tom Hardy robs him and leaves him for dead, but Glass survives and promises revenge on Fitzgerald.

The trailer was released this week, officially kicking off his Oscar campaign.

The Telluride Film festival wrapped up on Monday. Telluride is known to be more relaxed than most of the festivals. It has had a good track record for debuting the years Best Picture winner.

Birdman poster

BIRDMAN-The most Oscar buzz to come from Telluride is BIRDMAN. It is a safe bet to say that Michael Keaton will earn his first Oscar nomination for his performance as a faded film star best-known for playing a superhero, who hopes to stage a comeback on Broadway.  Fox Searchlight is going full on Oscar campaign. It played in Venice, it will skip Toronto, but will close out the New York Film Festival.  If you buy into the early hype, BIRDMAN could go on nominations in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and Best Editing.
BIRDMAN opens October 17th.

WILD movie poster

WILD-Movies about solo survival-in-the-wilderness, or space, may be getting stale (GRAVITY, 127 HOURS, ALL IS LOST). The reviews for WILD were mixed, but most agreed that Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern could be Best Actress contenders.
WILD opens December 5th.

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THE IMITATION GAME-Struck some a Best Picture contender. Benedict Cumberbatch‘s performance as code-breaker Alan Turing will definitely land a Best Actor nomination.
THE IMITATION GAME opens November 21st

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ROSEWATER- Written and directed by John Stewart is about A journalist is detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated in prison. Early reviews were mostly positive, but as Open Road also plays ROSEWATER in Toronto film John Stewart may end up adding an Oscar to his collection of 20 Emmys.
ROSEWATER opens November 7th

foxcatcher-movie-poster

FOXCATCHER-May be too dark for the academy, but great reviews coming out of Telluride. Director Bennet Miller won the Best Director prize at Cannes, and is already a strong Oscar contender. Sony Pictures Classic is making sure that FOXCATCHER is seen in Toronto, The New York Film Festival and London Film Festival. Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are all being positioned for acting nominations.
FOXCATCHER opens November 14th. 

The Homesman Poster

THE HOMESMAN- A western directed by Tommy Lee Jones has mixed reviews (RottenTomatoes 71%), but Hilary Swank is getting some attention for her portrayal of a woman who helps escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa. Harvey Weinstein promised Swank a Best Actress Oscar for AMELIA in 2009.  She might have better luck this year.
THE HOMESMAN Opens November 7th.

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As I try to predict this years Oscar winners, I realize what a strange year it has been. The date changes have for the first time left the Oscar voters to choose nominees before any other major awards were announced. They were for the first time “on their own”. If the date changes never happened we would have seen Katheryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck nominated for Best Director.  ARGO would win BP and Affleck for Director. Not so easy this year. Some say if ARGO wins then they really hate LINCOLN and Ang Lee will win, or it will be a split. ARGO and Spielberg, or if they Spielberg wins Director than LINCOLN will win picture. I am going with the split.

I am torn in the Best Actress category. Jennifer Lawrence is the favorite to win, but I hated Silver Linings. Lawrence is young enough to have more opportunities to win. Emmanualle Riva is 86 and has been acting most of her life. It is now or never. But the old white guys are more likely to to vote with their penis and choose Lawrence. I am sticking with Riva and I am probably wrong, but I learned last year that going with the consensus is not always the way. Especially this year.

They want to honor LINCOLN somewhere if not Best Picture, it does after all have the most nominations. Daniel Day Lewis will win Actor, but I am torn with Best Supporting. Tommy Lee Jones has won a few other awards, but has not campaigned much. While Robert Deniro is in full campaign mode. Weinstein and Co. are trying to make SLP more about mental illness than a romcom. Deniro crying with Katie Couric about David O’Russells son’s fight with mental illness. Ugh..it is a romcom and a bad one. All 5 Supporting Actor nominees have won Oscars before, so maybe it is Deniro’s time again, but I am going with Tommy Lee.

Here goes nothing:

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Argo
Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in The Master
Sally Field in Lincoln
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables
Helen Hunt in The Sessions
Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Achievement in Cinematography
Anna Karenina Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained Robert Richardson
Life of Pi Claudio Miranda
Lincoln Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall Roger Deakins

Achievement in Costume Design
Anna Karenina Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables Paco Delgado
Lincoln Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman Colleen Atwood

Achievement in Directing
Amour Michael Haneke
Beasts of the Southern Wild Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi Ang Lee
Lincoln Steven Spielberg
Silver Linings Playbook David O. Russell

Best Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary Short Subject
Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

Achievement in Film Editing
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Amour 
Kon-Tiki
No”
A Royal Affair
War Witch

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables


Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Anna Karenina
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
Before My Time from Chasing Ice
Everybody Needs A Best Friend from Ted
Pi’s Lullaby from Life of Pi
Skyfall from Skyfall
Suddenly from “Les Misérables

Achievement in Production Design
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln

Best animated Short Film
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare
Paperman

Best Live Action Short Film
Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow
Henry

Achievement in Sound Editing
Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

Achievement in Sound Mixing
Argo
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Achievement in Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

Adapted Screenplay
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook

Original Screenplay
Amour Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained Written by Quentin Tarantino
Flight Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty Written by Mark Boal

sag-awards-logo_1323960079

ARGO has now won every major film award since the Oscar nominations were announced. Maybe they have all been sympathy votes because Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director? And LINCOLN will still win the Oscar. Either way it is pretty much down to ARGO or LINCOLN for Best Picture.

List of SAG movie winners:

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Stunt ensemble: “Skyfall”
Supporting actor: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Supporting actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Ensemble Cast: “Argo”


Now that all of the major film festivals are over, we now have a sense of how the Academy Awards might go this year. This is an unusual year in that many of the contenders have not been seen yet. Until the Oscar bloggers and critics have a chance to see these movies and ferociously tweet out their Oscar thoughts, It is hard to say how things will turn out. We are still waiting on LES MISERABLES, DJANO UNCHAINED, FLIGHT, ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE PROMISED LAND and THE HOBBIT.

If the Oscars were held today this is how some of the major categories might look:

Best Picture
ARGO
LINCOLN
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
MOONRISE KINGDOM
LIFE OF PI
THE MASTER
AMOUR

Best Actor
Joaquin Phoenix, THE MASTER
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, THE MASTER
Bradley Cooper, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Richard Gere, ARBITRAGE
Jean-Louis Trintignant, AMOUR
Tommy Lee Jones, HOPE SPRINGS

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Emannuelle Riva, AMOUR
Meryl Streep, HOPE SPRINGS
Quvenzhané Wallis,BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones, LINCOLN
Alan Arkin, ARGO
Dwight Henry, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Robert De Niro, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
John Goodman, ARGO
Nate Parker, ARBITRAGE

Supporting Actress
Ann Dowd,COMPLIANCE
Susan Sarandon, ARBITRAGE
Sally Field, LINCOLN
Jacki Weaver, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Anne Hathaway, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Director
Ben Affleck, ARGO
Steven Spielberg, LINCOLN
Paul Thomas Anderson, THE MASTER
Ang Lee, LIFE OF PI
Christopher Nolan, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
David O. Russell, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Michael Haneke, AMOUR
Wes Anderson, MOONRISE KINGDOM
Benh Zeitlin, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

The first LINCOLN trailer had me worried that it was going to be a sappy WARHORSE epic drama. The second one looks much better. We get to see more of Daniel Day Lewis without the dramatic Oscar music.

A few things happened last week in Oscar news:

*Thursday Fox Searchlight announced that HITCHCOCK would be released November 23rd in time for and Oscar run. I previously did not think that it would be released this year because it just wrapped up filming in May. They some have a lot of confidence in Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock.

*LINCOLN will get its world premiere at the AFI Film Festival as the official Closing Film on November 8th. They purposely are waiting until right after the election as to not sway any voting. It’s official release is November 16th.

*The New York Post reported that LINCOLN “had a test screening Tuesday night at the AMC Garden State Plaza 16 in Paramus, N.J.” An anonymous person gave their thoughts…

The performances of Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Hal Holbrook were great,” wrote this person, a passionate moviegoer who is not connected with the film industry, who flatly predicts that Day-Lewis will get a Best Picture nomination in the title role. “Sally Field was miscast as Mrs. Lincoln, Joseph Gordon Levitt as Lincoln’s eldest son was OK but he really didn’t add anything to the story.

“My biggest issue with the film as a whole was, it was boring,” this civilian viewer wrote. “With the film centering on the vote for the 13th amendment, ending slavery and the Civil War, you’d think Spielberg would have made a more exciting, riveting film. So much of the story takes place in small, smoky dark rooms with Lincoln talking to one or two people, that my mind began to wander. It felt claustrophobic.
If he had shown the horrors of slavery and the Civil War, it might have evened out the story. They pretty much kept the film centered around the politicians.”
I’m a big Spielberg fan, and I hope “Lincoln” works. If there are indeed problems with “Lincoln” — and, keep in mind, this is one nonprofessional’s opinion — Spielberg has seven weeks to try and fix things like, say, the pacing. And as Spielberg notes, test screenings can be deceiving. “Close Encounters” certainly worked out OK.

*The Directors Guild of America said that they will announce their nominations January 8th. The Oscar nominations will be two days later. This means that the DGA nominations will not effect the Oscar nominatons as in previous years.  The PGA nominations will also be announced after Oscar ballots close.