Before it screened, Tim Burton‘s biopic “Big Eyes” was seen as a slam-dunk Oscar vehicle for Amy Adams. After all, Adams, who stars as painter Margaret Keane, has lost all five of her Oscar bids: four in supporting — “Junebug” (2005), “Doubt” (2008), “The Fighter” (2010), and “The Master” (2012) — and last year in lead (“American Hustle). However, now that this Weinstein Company film has unspooled, the buzz is all about Christoph Waltz who could well contend for his third Oscar in six years.
Waltz won Supporting Actor twice for his scene-stealing work in two Quentin Tarantino films — “Inglorious Basterds” (2009) and “Django Unchained” (2012) — which were also produced by Oscar wiz Harvey Weinstein. The actor brings this same winning combination of wry charm and wit with just a hint of unseemliness to the role of Keane’s husband Walter in “Big Eyes.” For years, he claimed credit for her paintings and then fought her in court when she asserted her authorship. The role allows Waltz to once more do the kind of rich, villainous work that the actors branch loves to recognize.
Further helping his chances is the size of the role: much like in “Basterds” and “Django,” he’s basically a co-lead masquerading as a supporting player. When it comes to making an impression in the minds of voters, size really does matter.
Right now, Waltz is ranked in 10th place by our Experts, far back of current frontrunner J.K. Simmons who plays a similar part in “Whiplash.” But remember, he was similarly discounted two years ago for “Django Unchained” as most of the awards hype was for his costar Leonardo DiCaprio. However, after both the New York and Los Angeles film critics awards cited him as the runner-up for the supporting actor prize, he became a strong contender, winning at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA before prevailing at the Oscars. On a side note, neither NYFCC winner Matthew McConaughey (“Bernie,” “Magic Mike”) nor LAFCA champ Dwight Henry (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) reaped an Oscar bid.
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