Could this year be a category-fraud tipping point at Oscars?

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  • Daniel Montgomery
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    #202603

    Lead or borderline co-lead actors often go supporting because it works — Jake Gyllenhaal in “Brokeback Mountain,” Ethan Hawke in “Training Day,” Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle,” Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” and “The Master,” Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County,” Helen Hunt in “The Sessions,” and on and on and on.

    And even when it doesn’t work, sometimes it works out anyway — Kate Winslet going from supporting to lead in “The Reader,” ditto Keisha Castle-Hughes in “Whale Rider.”

    But I don’t think I’ve ever seen nearly as much category confusion across the board as this year: Rooney Mara (“Carol”), Alicia Vikander (“Danish Girl”), Jacob Tremblay (“Room”), Christian Bale (“The Big Short”), Paul Dano (“Love and Mercy”), and even Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”) are either lead or supporting depending on the award show making the decision.

    I think they’d all like to go supporting, and a couple of those make sense (I don’t think “Big Short” or “Spotlight” have any clear bona fide lead actors in them), but other campaigns are fighting so hard against the content of their films (Tremblay has more screentime than Larson, “Carol” is mostly told from Mara’s point of view) that they might be forcing a big split among the people likely to vote for them.

    There have been times when lead/supporting confusion more than likely cost actors a nomination (Scarlett Johansson in “Lost in Translation,” that silly supporting campaign for Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Departed”), and this year we could see several more instances of that. If Mara or Vikander miss out entirely because of confusion, or “Spotlight” keeps missing out because of too many actors splitting the supporting vote, maybe we’ll see a tipping point where studios decide to err on the side of a lead campaign instead of risking category confusion.

    Thoughts? 

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    Eddy Q
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    #202605

    I hope that the Oscar nominations this year will reflect on the dangers, both ethical and strategic, of fraudulent campaigning. In other words, I hope Mara either gets into lead or misses out altogether (preferably the former) so Harvey W. and others can learn a lesson. Same for Vikander, assuming she’s as much of a lead as everyone here says she is, as I haven’t seen The Danish Girl yet. At the moment I’m predicting Mara in lead and Vikander to win in supporting. Tremblay is tricky, but I just don’t see him being taken seriously as a lead. The inevitable passion votes he’ll get in supporting probably means he’ll be nominated there. Judging by all that it doesn’t look like category fraud is going away any time soon. Damn.

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    Cheshire
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    #202606

    I think with ensemble type movies like The Big Short and Spotlight even American Hustle can go either way. I haven’t seen Carol or The Danish Girl but from what hear, Mara is Carol and The Danish Girl is more so from the wife’s prespective than Lili’s.
    Also Berenice Bejo is so obiviously the female lead in The Artist. 

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    Sasha
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    #202607

    Please don’t call it confusion, it’s pure and simple cheating. I don’t belive in god but I will start if AMPAS nominate Mara, Vikander, Tremblay and Dano in leading or snub them altogether. I’ve finally seen The Danish Girl and my goodness, Vikander has no shame at all! She’s more of a lead than Redmayne for fuck’s sake! She’s great and deserves nomination in LEADING category. As for Spotlight, it’s a true ensemble movie. All of them are supporting each other. No one’s leading. And I’m hearing the same case with The Big Short. But if someone’s supporting and still wants to compete in leading then good for him! It’s still kinda unfair but not a mortal sin like going supporting when you’re the clear lead of your movie. AMPAS truly should do something about it!

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    Riley
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    #202608

    Also Berenice Bejo is so obiviously the female lead in The Artist.

    Just because someone is the most prominent of their sex in a movie does not mean that they should go in the leading category.  Is Emma Stone the lead of Birdman or Lupita N’yongo the lead of 12 Years a Slave?  Not every film will fill every category.  Then there is stuff like Spotlight where nobody is in either leading category and that is fine.  As for Bérénice Bejo, leading is not necessarily wrong and I had expected at the time that the Oscars would bump her up like BAFTA did, but I would personally put her supporting.  She has a lot of screen time, but The Artist is really not her story the way that Still Alice is Julianne Moore’s or even the first three quarters of Django Unchained is Christoph Waltz’s.

    What bugs me is when someone says that they would rather see a good leading performance nominated in supporting than a lesser supporting one.  But this should never be a conversation in the first place.  Why should an undeniably leading performance like Jocob Tremblay be in contention for a supporting award?  If a movie with great visual effects decided to submit its visual effects in the musical score category since the competition was weaker there, would we say, “oh, well, at least we got some great visual effects nominated instead of a mediocre musical score”?  (A better analogy is if an actor submitted in an actress category.)

    Daniel Brühl was wonderful in Rush and it was too bad that he could not get an Oscar nomination after he was nominated by the Globes, BAFTA, Critics and SAG, but I cannot really lament his snub or say that he was snubbed because his precursor nominations were all unearned in the first place.  I preferred his performance to Jonah Hill and company, but people who actually saw Rush know that he actually had more in that movie than the guy who campaigned in lead and whose face consumed the entire poster because that was the right choice for marketing purposes.

    I think that Alicia Vikander will be fine campaigning in supporting.  She is young, far less of a name than Eddie Redmayne, billed after him and may pick up some critic awards along the way that group her many supporting performances from the year in supporting.  Or voters may hear that she won the Los Angeles supporting award and assume that it was for The Danish Girl and not realize that it was for Ex Machina.

    But I am predicting that Rooney Mara gets burned.  Mara is not a nobody.  She already has an Oscar nomination in lead despite her young age and she actually won Cannes over Cate Blanchett.  Add in that the story is told from her point of view and the Globes put her in lead and you are going to get a lot of people voting for her in lead.  Then add in that she gives a subtle performance, has been campaigned in supporting and has to get past Cate Blanchett and there are going to be people who do not vote for her at all.  Plus Gold Derby is massively overrating Carol in the first place.  The academy is not made up of critics, people!  These are the voters who nominated The King’s Speech over The Social Network, 20 Feet from Stardom over The Act of Killing, Argo over Zero Dark Thirty; the list goes on forever.  Did everyone read Ralph’s review about slow this thing is?  Did it not miss SAG ensemble opposite Beasts of No Nation, despite two nominations and a nice supporting cast including the likes of Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson?  Have we forgotten how the New York Film Critics Circle gave Far from Heaven five awards, then the academy merely gave it four nominations with more categories and snubbing it altogether in four of the categories that it won with New York?  Carol “only” got four awards from New York.  Harvey Weinstein has enough pull to still get Carol in a few places, but we know how crowded and unpredictable this year is.  Gold Derby predicting it for eight nominations is crazy.

    Campaigning Leonardo DiCaprio as supporting for The Departed may have been sketchy, but I would not call it silly or say that it cost him a nomination.  With Blood Diamond in contention, he never would have been nominated twice in lead anyway.  And with Forest Whitaker in contention, he never would have won lead with The Departed.  So he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying to push it in supporting, which worked at SAG mind you.

    And no, I do not think that category fraud is coming to a head.  Maybe Rooney Mara misses out on a nomination, but remember why they embarked on this path in the first place.  They thought that she was not going to get one anyway.  And we will have the success stories of SAG winner Alicia Vikander, Oscar nominee Jacob Tremblay at nine years old and Globe nominee Paul Dano after several awards movies.

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    Baby Clyde
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    #202609

    I hope they all get snubbed.

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    GusCruz
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    #202610

    I have to admit I’m rooting for the category fraud this year, in the case of Mara and Vikander. These two going lead would likely jeopardize amazing performances from getting in and would allow some undeserving people in the supporting category. So no, you two can be supporting and battle it out with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

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    manakamana
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    #202611

    I don’t know, Mara seems to be the only one people are admitting is completely fraudulently placed, and that was acknolwedged early enough that she’s in strong contention for that lead nomination (especially with Joy flopping). 

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    Irvin Malcolm Contreras
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    #202612

    I seldom post here these days but I will interject. 

    “Category fraud” has been going on since the establishment of the Supporting awards. In the old days, the REVERSE actually happened more often: Spencer Tracy only had 10 minutes of screen time in “San Francisco” but was nominated in Lead because he was a marquee star at the time. Greer Garson was nominated in Lead for “Goodbye Mr. Chips” despite having only 15 minutes of screen time.

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    Teridax
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    #202613

    [quote=”TinoPecchia”]Also Berenice Bejo is so obiviously the female lead in The Artist.Just because someone is the most prominent of their sex in a movie does not mean that they should go in the leading category.  Is Emma Stone the lead of Birdman or Lupita N’yongo the lead of 12 Years a Slave?  Not every film will fill every category.  Then there is stuff like Spotlight where nobody is in either leading category and that is fine.  As for Bérénice Bejo, leading is not necessarily wrong and I had expected at the time that the Oscars would bump her up like BAFTA did, but I would personally put her supporting.  She has a lot of screen time, but The Artist is really not her story the way that Still Alice is Julianne Moore’s or even the first three quarters of Django Unchained is Christoph Waltz’s.

    What bugs me is when someone says that they would rather see a good leading performance nominated in supporting than a lesser supporting one.  But this should never be a conversation in the first place.  Why should an undeniably leading performance like Jocob Tremblay be in contention for a supporting award?  If a movie with great visual effects decided to submit its visual effects in the musical score category since the competition was weaker there, would we say, “oh, well, at least we got some great visual effects nominated instead of a mediocre musical score”?  (A better analogy is if an actor submitted in an actress category.)

    Daniel Brühl was wonderful in Rush and it was too bad that he could not get an Oscar nomination after he was nominated by the Globes, BAFTA, Critics and SAG, but I cannot really lament his snub or say that he was snubbed because his precursor nominations were all unearned in the first place.  I preferred his performance to Jonah Hill and company, but people who actually saw Rush know that he actually had more in that movie than the guy who campaigned in lead and whose face consumed the entire poster because that was the right choice for marketing purposes.

    I think that Alicia Vikander will be fine campaigning in supporting.  She is young, far less of a name than Eddie Redmayne, billed after him and may pick up some critic awards along the way that group her many supporting performances from the year in supporting.  Or voters may hear that she won the Los Angeles supporting award and assume that it was for The Danish Girl and not realize that it was for Ex Machina.

    But I am predicting that Rooney Mara gets burned.  Mara is not a nobody.  She already has an Oscar nomination in lead despite her young age and she actually won Cannes over Cate Blanchett.  Add in that the story is told from her point of view and the Globes put her in lead and you are going to get a lot of people voting for her in lead.  Then add in that she gives a subtle performance, has been campaigned in supporting and has to get past Cate Blanchett and there are going to be people who do not vote for her at all.  Plus Gold Derby is massively overrating Carol in the first place.  The academy is not made up of critics, people!  These are the voters who nominated The King’s Speech over The Social Network, 20 Feet from Stardom over The Act of Killing, Argo over Zero Dark Thirty; the list goes on forever.  Did everyone read Ralph’s review about slow this thing is?  Did it not miss SAG ensemble opposite Beasts of No Nation, despite two nominations and a nice supporting cast including the likes of Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson?  Have we forgotten how the New York Film Critics Circle gave Far from Heaven five awards, then the academy merely gave it four nominations with more categories and snubbing it altogether in four of the categories that it won with New York?  Carol “only” got four awards from New York.  Harvey Weinstein has enough pull to still get Carol in a few places, but we know how crowded and unpredictable this year is.  Gold Derby predicting it for eight nominations is crazy.

    Campaigning Leonardo DiCaprio as supporting for The Departed may have been sketchy, but I would not call it silly or say that it cost him a nomination.  With Blood Diamond in contention, he never would have been nominated twice in lead anyway.  And with Forest Whitaker in contention, he never would have won lead with The Departed.  So he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying to push it in supporting, which worked at SAG mind you.

    And no, I do not think that category fraud is coming to a head.  Maybe Rooney Mara misses out on a nomination, but remember why they embarked on this path in the first place.  They thought that she was not going to get one anyway.  And we will have the success stories of SAG winner Alicia Vikander, Oscar nominee Jacob Tremblay at nine years old and Globe nominee Paul Dano after several awards movies.

    [/quote]Argo actually got better critical reviews than Zero Crap Thirty, deservedly so. Just check RT. Also, thank you for pointing out Blood Diamond and how much of a lock Forest Whitaker was that year anyway.

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    Teridax
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    #202614

    I seldom post here these days but I will interject. 

    “Category fraud” has been going on since the establishment of the Supporting awards. In the old days, the REVERSE actually happened more often: Spencer Tracy only had 10 minutes of screen time in “San Francisco” but was nominated in Lead because he was a marquee star at the time. Greer Garson was nominated in Lead for “Goodbye Mr. Chips” despite having only 15 minutes of screen time.

    Exactly! I think it’s just as fraudulent to see Supporting performances nominated in Lead as is it to see Lead performances nominated in Supporting, anyone who says otherwise is a hypocrite in that regard! With that said, Category fraud doesn’t bother me NEARLY as much as it used to, and if it means Paul Dano can get recognized for his brilliant work in Love & Mecry over A-listers in lead, like Leonardo Dicaprio and Bryan Cranston, SO BE IT. Besides, I’d even argue John Cusack was the lead of Love and Mercy, if I had to pick one of the 2. :\

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #202615

    on the one hand, I would love for Alicia Vikander to win the Supporting Actress Oscar; she’s phenomenal, amazing, the heart of the movie, brilliant, mesmerizing – it’s truly a remarkable great performance. BUT she’s a lead in the film, has an equal amount of scrreen time to ER, and is the heart & soul of the movie. (I Haven’t seen Carol yet; still hans’t been released here. but I suspect the same might be true for Rooney Mara)

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    Eddy Q
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    #202616

    Argo actually got better critical reviews than Zero Crap Thirty, deservedly so. Just check RT.  

    The Tomatometer is just a silly percentage of reviews that show up as “fresh”, including 2.5/4 or 3/5 or mixed unrated reviews. Just how positive a review is isn’t taken into account, so you can’t really judge a movie’s reception purely on the Tomatometer. On Metacritic, which uses a more reliable weighted average score, ZDT has 95 to Argo’s 86.

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    Riley
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    #202617

    On Rotten Tomatoes, Argo got 96% positive reviews (94% among top critics), but with an average rating of 8.4/10 (8.6), which is lower than Zero Dark Thirty‘s average rating of 8.6 (9.1).  CriticsTop10 tallied 366 lists that cited Zero Dark Thirty as one of the ten best of the year, including 77 top spots, both the most of any film that year.  Argo came fourth with 305 lists and fifth with 44 top spots.  On Metacritic’s aggregate of top ten lists from the most reputable critics, Zero Dark Thirty placed first (17 top, 17 second, 95 total) and Argo seventh (7 top, 7 second, 53 total).

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    ETPhoneHome
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    #202618

    I have to admit I’m rooting for the category fraud this year, in the case of Mara and Vikander. These two going lead would likely jeopardize amazing performances from getting in and would allow some undeserving people in the supporting category. So no, you two can be supporting and battle it out with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

    Exactly! I only really hate category fraud if it takes a spot away from a performance that truly deserves it. There are far more deserving lead actress contenders than supporting ones this year, so why not just nominate the 10 best performances? I wouldn’t want them to win mind you, but it’s better than having some kind of egregious snub.

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