As soon I got home tonight after seeing "Saving Mr. Banks" at the AFI gala at Grauman's theater in Hollywood, I signed in to Gold Derby and changed my Oscar prediction for Best Supporting Actor to Tom Hanks. Previously, I had been swapping Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers' Club") and Michael Fassbender ("12 Years a Slave") in and out of the top slot, but now I think I see a real winner.
No, Tom Hanks doesn't set off theatrical fireworks as Walt Disney. He doesn't rage like past champs Christian Bale in "The Fighter" or James Coburn in "Afflication." Instead, he gives one of those warm turns like Jim Broadbent in "Iris" and Michael Caine in "The Cider House Rules." His big money scene comes when he explains what it means to save Mr. Banks. Bingo. A tear-your-heart-out speech delivered in a rosey close-up. Perfect Oscar fare.
Hanks' odds of winning are boosted by the fact that he portrays a real-life person. Voters love that, especially when it's one of their own people like Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator."
Don't make the mistake of thinking that Oscar voters will resist giving Hanks a demotion. That is, they might not want to give him an award in the lowly category of supporting actor after he previously won twice in lead ("Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump"). Nonsense. They gave Ingrid Bergman the supporting trophy for "Murder on the Orient Express" after previously hailing her as Best Actress in "Anastasia" and "Gaslight."
Hanks won't win any early awards. The film critics will give their supporting-actor laurels to Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") or Michael Fassbender ("12 Years a Slave"). Expect Hanks to emerge later in derby season at the Golden Globes and/or SAG Awards where voters are much more worshipful of Hollywood royalty.
Yes, Hanks will also be nominated for Best Actor in "Captain Phillips" and he can win for that, especially considering his big showy scene near the end. But even though he takes on a twangy Boston accent, he still sounds and looks a lot like Tom Hanks in "Phillips." His performance doesn't seem so actorly as it does in "Saving Mr. Banks" where he fully embodies the role of Disney.
Don't assume he's going to split his votes with two nominations. On 11 occasions in the past, actors had two bids in one year. Seven won. READ MORE
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Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.