Since we started canvassing our Oscar experts in late August, Oprah Winfrey had led the Best Supporting Actress race for her performance in the summer hit "The Butler." But in the last 10 days, support has shifted to newcomer Lupita Nyongo, the breakout star of Best Picture frontrunner "12 Years a Slave" which opens Friday (Oct. 18).
Thirteen Experts are now behind the bid by Nyongo: Edward Douglas (Comingsoon), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Dave Karger (Fandango), Guy Lodge (HitFix), Mary Milliken (Reuters), Michael Musto (Out, Gawker), Steve Pond (TheWrap), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily), Alex Suskind (Moviefone), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere) and Glenn Whipp (L.A. Times).
Ten Experts support Winfrey: Thelma Adams (Yahoo), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Mark Harris (Grantland), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDb), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood) and Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com).
See the Experts' latest rankings here. Latest racetrack odds: Nyongo is at 23 to 10 while Winfrey is now at 13 to 5. 2011 champ Octavia Spencer ("The Help") is in third at 10 to 1 for her performance in "Fruitvale Station." See the full breakdown here.
Who do you think is going to win Best Supporting Actress? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.
The film that wins Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the Oscars usually has the most elaborate prosthetic makeup, but at other times the Academy prefers the nominee with the most prestige. That may be how "The Iron Lady's" relatively subtle aging makeup beat out the complex creatures in the "Harry Potter" finale.
It's probably also how the biopic "Frida" beat the sci-fi film "The Time Machine" in 2002, how "La Vie en Rose" took down "Norbit" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" in 2007, and how the period musical "Les Miserables" beat prosthetics-heavy "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "Hitchcock" just last year. Even without layers of latex, a film can win if it has enough overall Academy support.
Two of Peter Jackson's films in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy -- "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Return of the King" -- won this award, and the first of his "Hobbit" films, "An Unexpected Journey," was nominated last year. So part two, "The Desolation of Smaug," could be a major contender in this race.
Other sci-fi and fantasy films eligible to compete include "Oz the Great and Powerful," "Pacific Rim," "Ender's Game," and "Star Trek Into Darkness." "Into Darkness" is J.J. Abrams's second film in the rebooted franchise; the first won this category in 2009.
Grunge rock band Nirvana is the only first-time eligible artist on the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations list. Others include Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, LL Cool J, Kiss, The Meters, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes, and The Zombies. The top vote-getters will be inducted next April in a ceremony to air later on HBO. Rolling Stone.
Tina Fey believes hosting the Golden Globes is much easier than the Oscars, which she would never emcee. "I think that's too hard. Too many dresses to try on." Fey and Amy Poehler were announced this week as the Golden Globe hosts for the next two years. L.A. Times.
"Two and a Half Men" stars Ashton Kutcher ($24 million) and Jon Cryer ($21 million) top the annual list of TV's highest paid actors. Others in the fop five are Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother"), and Mark Harmon ("NCIS"). Forbes.
Kerry Washington and Edward Norton will make their first appearances as hosts on "Saturday Night Live." Norton hosts with musical guest Janelle Monae on October 26. Washington appears on November 2 with Eminem. TV Line.
Four decades after the horror film "Carrie" was released, a new version directed by Kimberly Peirce debuts this Friday. The original scored Oscar nominations for Sissy Spacek (in a shy teen role now played by Chloe Grace Moretz) and Piper Laurie (a deranged mother now portrayed by Julianne Moore). USA Today.
"Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky is sparring with Paramount executives over the final cut of his Biblical epic "Noah," due for release on March 28. Test screenings have brought "troubling reactions" from audiences in New York, Arizona, and California. Hollywood Reporter.
Michael Fassbender, who plays a sadistic plantation owner in "12 Years a Slave," will not be campaigning for an Oscar. Even though he currently tops the Best Supporting Actor Oscar race in Gold Derby odds, he says "It's just a grind. And I'm not a politician." He will also be on location in New Zealand shooting a new film. The Wrap.
Sasha Stone wonders if a challenging film like "12 Years a Slave" can actually win the Oscar for Best Picture. She says Oscar voters typically choose "comforting, uplifiting fare," but on occasion will select challenging works like "The Hurt Locker" and "No Country for Old Men." Awards Daily.
The new film "Captain Phillips" is "one big lie according to the real crew members of the cargo ship taken hostage by Somali pirates. They also claim that Captain Richard Phillips, played by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks, is "no hero" and wasn't a "big leader" as portayed in the movie. New York Post.
The Weinstein Company mailed out screeners last week for Oscar contender "Fruitvale Station," but they have a major error. Octavia Spencer and Melonie Diaz are listed as leading actresses when they are actually being campaigned in supporting. Hollywood Reporter.
"The Walking Dead" returns for the fourth season on AMC with a massive 16.1 million viewers and an 8.2 rating among adults 18-49. It is up 30% from the previous series high for the third season finale. The show is crushing all broadcast network programs airing on Sunday nights. Entertainment Weekly.
Oscar champ Sir Anthony Hopkins writes a fan letter to Bryan Cranston. He calls his portrayal of chemistry teacher/drug kingpin Walter White on "Breaking Bad" over the past six years "the best acting I have seen - ever." Huffington Post.
The one-time "Saturday Night Live" castmates and long-time pals -- who emceed this year's kudocast to great acclaim and stellar ratings -- have inked a deal to preside over the next two ceremonies. (The 71st ceremony takes place on Jan. 12, 2014 and will air live on NBC.)
The audience for this year's Globes jumped to 19.7 million from 16.8 when Ricky Gervais hosted for the last of three times in 2012 and earned a 6.4 rating in the 18-49 demo (up 28%).
Below, watch the two make merry in their opening monologue last year and vote in our poll as to how they will do this year.
With the Tony Awards still eight months away, it may be foolish to declare a winner this early, but here’s my gutsy prediction: Cherry Jones is a lock to win Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Amanda Wingfield in a revival of Tennessee Williams’s "The Glass Menagerie." Here's why:
1. Duh…she’s Cherry Jones!
Jones is royalty in the New York theater. She won this race for "The Heiress" (1995) and "Doubt" (2005) and contended in this category two other times losing in 1991 for "Our Country's Good" to Mercedes Ruehl ("Lost in Yonkers") and in 2000 for "A Moon for the Misbegotten" to Jennifer Ehle ("The Real Thing").
She has also proven herself in television and film, even winning an Emmy in 2009 for playing the supporting role of the President on season seven of "24."
2. She is performing a classic role and the critics are loving it.
Amanda Wingfield is an iconic female role in American theater. The original Amanda -- Laurette Taylor -- was not eligible for a Tony Award as these theater kudos were not created until two years after she debuted in the role in 1945. Her performance defined the role for decades.
However, New York Times critic Ben Brantley described Jones’s performance as “career defining” and “one for the ages" that “may someday be spoken of with the awe that surrounds Laurette Taylor’s creation of the part.” Elysa Gardner (USA Today) called Jones “one of the greatest stage actresses alive” and said her work “will amaze even her most ardent admirers in its depth and compassion.”
3. The production is a critical and box office hit.
Revivals of classic plays win Tonys for their stars when they succeed with both critics and audiences. The critical and commercial success of the revival of August Wilson’s "Fences" propelled Denzel Washington and Viola Davis to Tony wins in 2010. Last year’s remounting of "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf" brought Tracy Letts a Tony in an upset over bigger names Tom Hanks and Nathan Lane.
Mark expects Robert Redford to win his first acting Oscar for his lead role in "All is Lost" and Cate Blanchett to pick up her second for "Blue Jasmine." And he thinks Woody Allen will extend his record in Original Screenplay to four with a win for "Blue Jasmine."
Compare Mark's predictions to those of our other 22 experts here.
And start predicting the Oscars yourself by picking the Best Picture lineup below.
No voice-over performance has ever been nominated for an acting Oscar. Could Scarlett Johansson's role as a sentient operating system in "Her" be the first? I think it very well could be; it's unlike other off-screen performances that have come before.
Some of the most iconic performances in film have been voice-overs, from Douglas Rain as HAL 9000, to James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, to Robin Williams as Genie. The problem with most of those performances from an awards perspective is that they're usually enhanced by means beyond the actors' control. How much do you credit Darth Vader to Jones as opposed to the physical presence of David Crowse and Oscar-winning costume design by John Mollo. And how do we separate Williams' charismatic voice-acting from the character animators who created Genie?
I suspect that's the same reason motion-capture performances haven't broken through at the Oscars. One may be impressed by Andy Serkis as Gollum in "Lord of the Rings" or Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in "Avatar," but however faithfully their performances are represented on screen, we're still watching CGI characters whose otherworldly qualities couldn't have been achieved by the actors alone.
Johansson doesn't have that problem. Her performance is all in her voice, so if you like her work there's no one else to share the credit – except, of course, the writer and director, but all performances are influenced by writers and directors. If anything, her acting peers could be even more impressed by her ability to create such a complete character without the benefit of facial expressions or body language, and unlike HAL 9000, the sinister computer from "2001," Johansson plays a full range of emotions.
And, heck, if Robert Redford can be an Oscar frontrunner for spending two hours on screen almost entirely without dialogue, why shouldn't Johansson be considered for pulling off exactly the opposite acting challenge?
Standing in her way – and maybe standing in the way of the entire film – is the fact that "Her" is science fiction. Even the few genre films that do well at the Oscars are seldom embraced by the actors' branch. Only one actor was ever nominated for the "Star Wars" films. Ditto the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. "Avatar," "District 9," and "Inception" didn't earn any acting bids at all.
Ralph Fiennes hasn't been nominated for an Oscar for 17 years, since way back in 1996 when he was up for Best Actor in "The English Patient." Doesn't it seem like he should have been nominated at least once or twice since then? What's holding him back?
It's certainly not for a lack of Oscar-friendly vehicles. In the years since his "English Patient" bid, he has starred opposite Best Actress nominee Julianne Moore in "The End of the Affair," Best Supporting Actress winner Rachel Weisz in "The Constant Gardener," and Best Actress winner Kate Winslet in "The Reader."
He's also had prominent roles in "In Bruges," an Oscar-nominee for its screenplay, as well as "The Duchess," "Skyfall," and the "Harry Potter" films, all contenders or winners in craft categories. And though he had a very small role in "The Hurt Locker," that was nevertheless the third Best Picture winner on his resume, following "Schindler's List" and "English Patient."
Now Fiennes directs himself and stars as Charles Dickens in "The Invisible Woman," which takes place late in the author's life, when he began an extramarital affair with a younger woman, Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones). Though the film has a lot of the hallmarks of an Oscar favorite – it's the story of a well-known historical figure with literary cachet, impressive period details, and, of course, all those British accents – Fiennes has yet to make a dent in our Best Actor odds. He currently ranks 21st in the crowded category.
This kind of literary, European costume drama was more popular with the Academy back in the Merchant Ivory days ("A Room with a View," "Howards End," "The Remains of the Day"). Films like "Dangerous Liaisons" and "Sense and Sensibility" also earned Best Picture bids in the '80s and '90s, and "Shakespeare in Love" famously upset "Saving Private Ryan" to win in 1998.
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Every actor submits only one sample episode, which will be judged by other actors (ranging from 25 to 75 per category jury) between July 28 and August 14. TV series submit six, which will be split into three pairs to be distributed randomly to about 300 voters. We now have uncovered every single title submitted for the 2014 races. CLICK HERE FOR THE EPISODES
We analyze the pros and cons
of episodes submitted by actors
to Emmy judges
Who submitted well? Click links below to read our in-depth analysis of each actor's episode entry.
DRAMA GUEST ACTRESS
Kate Burton ("Scandal")
Jane Fonda ("The Newsroom")
Allison Janney ("Masters of Sex")
Kate Mara ("House of Cards")
Margo Martindale ("The Americans")
Diana Rigg ("Game of Thrones")