Well, it’s official. Black Swan is a major contender in more than just the Best Actress race. And for good reason. It’s the most original of all the late winter Oscar players. But does heretofore eye-candy Mila Kunis have a shot at her first Oscar nomination? Despite what history tells us, all other signs point to yes.
Falling off: Shutter Island
The skinny: Despite a late revival and a boost from some critics’ groups, Shutter Island frankly has no chance of getting any major Oscar attention, a real shock considering the Academy’s love affair with Martin Scorsese. Also, I thought the idea of having 10 nominees was to allow some more populist films that weren’t respected enough to make the top five could have a shot (under the old rules there’s no way The Blind Side could have ever made it) but it appears the year’s biggest non-animated blockbuster is in danger of having its spot stolen by the barely seen but critically lauded Winter’s Bone. Still, it seems like the kind of movie that has more of a chance at acting and writing awards but not at the big prize and critics don’t make up the Academy, actors, writers, directors, etc. do.
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Falling off: Ben Affleck
The skinny: Aronofsky is so much bolder than most directors working today, so it’s a shame it will have taken him this long to get a nomination. It’s also a shame that his contemporary, Christopher Nolan, will likely get the shrug off. His genius needs to be recognized and was sadly shut out during 2008’s Reader disaster, despite getting a nomination from the directors’ guild. If he gets a nomination this year, he could make back on the Academy’s shortlist, but there’s no telling with Affleck and Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) as serious competition.
Falling off: No one
The skinny: Only Mark Wahlberg will prove competition, but with these as the SAG nominees, I don’t see how he could get his way in, even with all the love for The Fighter.
Falling off: Julianne Moore
The skinny: As many have predicted, there will only be room for one actress from The Kids are All Right. And if it comes down to it, it’s going to be Annette Bening for sure. Hilary Swank is beloved despite only making one serious Oscar contender every few years and then fading back into obscurity. She picked up a SAG nomination, but Michelle Williams got the Golden Globe. Only one of them can make it and it’s a toss-up at this point.
Falling off: Andrew Garfield
The skinny: How did this happen? After giving two fantastic performances in 2010, Andrew Garfield has found himself on the short end of the stick. He still has a shot, but it’s looking less and less likely. Hawkes is the winner in all this, having parlayed the acclaim Winter’s Bone has received into a serious shot at an Oscar.
Falling off: Dianne Wiest
The skinny: Remember what I said earlier this fall about Wiest being the only thing close to a slam dunk? Forget all that. Despite winning in this category twice, there’s stiff competition from some new blood. Mila Kunis–previously relegated to playing the girlfriend at best or slut at worst–looks like the real deal, as Natalie Portman’s fierce rival and polar opposite in Black Swan. She’s got a long, bright future ahead of her either way.