There are three things that excite me most about this time of the year: the start of the new opera season, sweaters and the beginning of the Oscar Buzz race. I make it a point to see as many of the Oscar-buzz worthy films and performances as I can. I also make it a point to follow the various online resources that make predictions for the upcoming Oscar season. 2013 has been a fascinating year for films with big-budget flops, sequel upon sequel, and quirky surprise hits, but it’s the months of September, October, November and December where film distributors unleash their hopes for Oscar gold.
I’m always fascinated by the Supporting Actor and Actress categories as many of the roles can range from seemingly lead to a few moments on the screen. In the Best Supporting Actress category, there are two performances which appear to be at the forefront of the race. Leading the pack is the woman known more for running her OWN network. Oprah Winfrey, or just Oprah, has been away from the Oscar race for a while, but her work in Lee Daniel’s “The Butler” has ignited lots of fervor. Playing Gloria Gaines, she offers a ferocious, yet loose performance that could not only get her a second Oscar nomination, but possibly her first win. Standing in her way, however, is actress Lupita Nyong’o. In her film debut, she plays Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” about a free black man who is abducted and sold into slavery. The buzz around her performance is quite strong, but as a newcomer going up against one of the most powerful women in the world, she may have to just to be happy with the nomination. The Academy has been known to honor the newcomer over the veteran, so time will have to tell.
Julia Roberts’ name is certainly in the mix as she goes head-to-head with Meryl Streep in the big screen adaptation of “August: Osage County.” While the film is getting mixed reviews, the word on the street is that Julia is great. The difficulty will be whether or not her performance goes Lead or Supporting. Also, there are several other supporting roles in the film and votes could get split among them. 2012 Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is again in the Oscar race for her role as Wanda in “Fruitvale Station.” Still riding high from her past Oscar win, her performance came out early in the season and yet she is still generating buzz. She could see nomination number two. Veteran actress June Squibb is said to steal the show in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.” Playing Kate Grant, the actress has played supporting roles in television and films since the early 90s. The Academy occasionally loves to honor older actresses in this category so a nomination could be forthcoming.
Other actresses who could possibly hear their name announced on Oscar nomination day are Margo Martindale (August: Osage County), last year’s Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Cameron Diaz (The Counselor), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) and Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis.)
Of course, the race is just starting to heat up so there may be a couple of surprises in this mix. One can expect a mix of well-known and lesser-known actresses to start collecting acting accolades throughout the season.