LOS ANGELES, Dec 11, (RTRS): Some awards watchers hope the Oscar race is coming into focus, now that nominations for SAG Awards and the Golden Globes have been announced. In truth, the focus may not arrive until the Feb 28 Academy Awards ceremony.
That’s partly because 2015 awards attention has been all over the map. But, more important, it’s because members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences are a unique group, who always manage to offer surprises and contradict the early “bellwethers.”
“Carol,”Room,”Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Big Short” are among the titles that have done well in multiple votings (aside from SAG and the Globes, this includes the L.A. and New York film critics).
A few other films have been peripheral so far, but promise to loom large in Oscar noms, such as “The Martian,”Brooklyn,” “Creed” and “Bridge of Spies.” That’s because they’re brilliantly crafted — and because Oscar has 10 categories that salute artisan work, which are rarely covered in year-end honors (Those categories include production design, hair and makeup, editing, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects).
It’s important to remember that there are three distinct groups in the Oscar derby: The early voting organizations, pundits/bloggers and Academy voters. Sometimes their tastes and thinking overlap, but ultimately, they are very different.
The Academy consistently offers surprises: Last year, “American Sniper” scored six Oscar noms, after being shortchanged by most early awards. Over the years, Oscar has given surprise boosts to diverse films, ranging from “The Blind Side” to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and also including the whopping ten nominations to the Coen brothers’ “True Grit.”
There is no overlap between the Academy and voters in critics groups or the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. There is minimal overlap between the SAG nom-com and the Acad’s acting branch. Because of the differences, it’s surprising they are often similar. Last year, 80% of SAG Award nominees were also cited for Oscars and all of the winners were identical. But it’s doubtful that the similarities will be so strong this year.
The mainstream media often talk about awards momentum, but it doesn’t work that way. This isn’t the presidential race, where a primary election can guarantee points to a candidate. In Oscar, there are no points. “The Social Network” and “Boyhood” earned multiple best picture wins from critics, but didn’t translate that into an Oscar.
After the Wednesday SAG Award noms, the public was mystified by the omission of Will Smith, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lawrence, Sylvester Stallone and Jane Fonda. However, the following day, all of them were recognized by the Globes. It’s a competitive year, so it’s possible all five got a lot of votes from SAG-AFTRA and missed out by a single vote. In other words, they might have awards “momentum” without being aware of it.
In a year that’s so wide open, studio executives and awards strategists are studying the results harder than usual. In fact, they should be doing the opposite. Every contender who has been mentioned so far should enjoy the attention without trying to understand the logic. And all of those who’ve been ignored — a notable list including Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”), F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”) and Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”), among many others — should not give up hope. Because as “American Sniper” and Yogi Berra can attest, it ain’t over till it’s over.
LOS ANGELES: With a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor (and despite a miss with SAG-AFTRA), Sylvester Stallone could still be on track to pick up an Oscar nomination for “Creed.” It’s a very competitive category, so nothing is a sure bet, but if it does come to pass, he’ll join a very, very select group of actors who have been nominated twice for playing the same character.
The first instance was Bing Crosby’s portrait of Father Chuck O’Malley in the best picture-winning “Going My Way” in 1944 and a year later in “The Bells of St Mary’s.” Both were lead actor nominations, and he won for the former.
Sixteen years later, Paul Newman landed a best actor nom for his portrayal of “Fast” Eddie Felson in “The Hustler.”
But it would be 25 years before he’d play the part once again in Martin Scorsese’s 1986 sequel “The Color of Money,” for which he won. (That 25 years is currently the longest span of time between instances, a record that would be obliterated by the 39 years between “Rocky” and “Creed” should Stallone get the nom.)
Three years after “The Hustler,” in 1964, Peter O’Toole took on the role of King Henry II in “Becket.” He landed a best actor nomination for his efforts, and then again four years later when he revisited the character in “The Lion in Winter.”
Al Pacino was nominated for best supporting actor in 1972 for his work as Michael Corleone in “The Godfather,” but shifted gears to a lead actor nomination two years later in “The Godfather Part II.” Stallone, if nominated, would join him as the only other individual on the list to be nominated in a different category the second time around.
The only woman on the list is Cate Blanchett, who picked up best actress nominations for both the critically acclaimed “Elizabeth” in 1998 and the critically reviled “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” nine years later in 2007. The character, if it isn’t obvious: Queen Elizabeth I.
And now — perhaps — Stallone. Does Rocky Balboa belong in the same company as this cinematic royalty? In a word, absolutely. Those raised boxing gloves are iconography of the highest order, already immortalized in bronze at the franchise’s famed Philadelphia Museum of Art location.