I don't think the lack of unanimous structure in the lead acting races is confined between the two of them. There's as much of an absence from the supporting races as well, which is only noticed by further examination. Personally, I thought that it would be a no-brainer, but then I remembered that the world is a cruel and horrible place, and nothing ever goes my way. The supporting actor race in particular is kind of a crap shoot right now. We've still got a ways to go before the year's end, and what comes along in that time may make this race more definitive, but right now it's hard to place a bet on anyone with confidence.
Although, I think many are agreed that Christopher Plummer is the only real lock thus far. After all, people were so pleased with "Beginners", most especially Plummer's performance. Myself, I'm not sipping the koolaid as much as others are. Sure, his performance is strong, but only as strong as the film will allow him to be. Now, I'd be much more willing to throw Albert Brooks out there as frontrunner for "Drive", but one wonders if the Academy may be a bit adverse to it. I'm pretty confident he'll get a nomination, but not the Waltz-Ledger-Bardem win he so deserves after busting out such a surprising performance.
I've heard the rumblings of Max Von Sydow's performance in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" making a strong case for a nomination, though you wouldn't be able to tell from the trailer. Personally, I can't see anything interesting from the trailer. It looks sadly too much like "Hugo", minus Scorsese's slight apprehension. Another mostly unseen rumor of potentiality is Kenneth Branagh for "My Week with Marilyn", which has been playing dicey with critics. Williams has taken a beating, and Branagh doesn't exactly look extraordinary here. I'm going to say no, but you never know. In the bustle of the season, he may just end up swept accidentally back in.
It's almost as if we've completely forgotten the abundance of already proven talent and brilliance. Has Brad Pitt completely faded from memory for his career-best performance in "The Tree of Life" already? Yes, I wasn't the biggest fan of the film, but if the film hit a bit of a nagging nob in my own mind, Pitt's performance hit an absolutely yielding pit in my heart. The man rendered me astonished, as if he and Malick had personally analyzed my own father and his father before him. That's the resonant string the film has with me, and I'd be cast with absolute hatred if the Academy refused to acknowledge it.
At least he's a more likely bet than Ezra Miller is to get in. I don't expect the Academy to be quite as head-over-heels as I am personally for "We Need to Talk About Kevin", aside from Tilda Swinton's lead performance that's making the rounds. Unfortunately there are more than few with issue in his performance, calling it one-sided and entirely villainistic, which to me is sidestepping the point of the film entirely. Still, don't expect the Academy to warm up to the young charmer for this one. George Clooney has a more likely chance for "The Ides of March", though I'm not hearing ecstatic things about his performance. But hell, the Academy's chosen him before. I'd be half-surprised if they didn't do it again. Why wouldn't they jump at the possibility of double-Clooney nods?
There are a few performances I'd like to consider out of the conversation, whether they are or not. I don't see Phillip Seymour Hoffman making a dent this year for "The Ides of March" or "Moneyball", and his fans should instead wait till next year when he takes the lead in Paul Thomas Anderson's next film. God knows I love Jim Broadbent, but I don't think he'll be the proper hit he normally should be in "The Iron Lady". I wouldn't expect it anyway. And I don't think anybody is that fancied with Jonah Hill's performance in "Moneyball". Sure, it's better than anything he's ever done, but that's not saying much.
I'm half tempted to cast Patton Oswalt out of the race for "Young Adult" for the same reason as Hill, but fact of the matter is I'm much more taken with Oswalt in pretty much anything. Not to mention the strength Jason Reitman rings out of any performer in his films. I still don't expect "Young Adult" to be the surprise hit of the season, though I hope it will be. I can see it picking up a few interesting little nods here and there. This would be one of them.
I've also heard good things about Nick Nolte in "Warrior", which I still have had no opportunity to see thus far. But the film's lack of success puts his potential into doubt. Still, I'm happy to line up for this one over some even more sentimentalist hacks in the race. Rounding out my segment here is John Hawkes, the only man I'd ever want to end up in a bed with, and I mean that. He raised my interest with "Winter's Bone", and he seems to be doing equally good work in "Martha Marcy May Marlene". A second consecutive nomination may be in the cards for him, or at least a second consecutive Spirit Awards win. So I'll be back in tomorrow to talk about the ladies of the Supporting categories, and I'll fill you in then.