Our Oscar predictions have Alicia Vikander among the top frontrunners in this year’s race for Best Supporting Actress. We expect her to be nominated for her touching performance in the period drama “The Danish Girl” over her featured turn in the sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina.” However, she could well end up with Oscar nominations for both.
An actor isn’t allowed more than one nomination in any given category at the Oscars, so Vikander can’t be nominated for Best Supporting Actress twice. That’s unfair because writers, directors, producers and every other film artist can compete as many times as they are eligible in a given category, but that’s a gripe for another day.
Normally, this would mean Vikander is out of luck. Unless her different performances split the vote and cost her a nomination altogether, she’ll have to settle for one nomination for one film, like Jessica Chastain, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “The Help” in 2011 despite also giving standout featured turns in “Take Shelter” and “The Tree of Life.”
But Vikander is arguably a lead in “The Danish Girl.” The Golden Globes, which can overrule a studio’s campaign if they believe an actor or film is being positioned in the wrong category, wouldn’t allow her in the supporting race. Instead, the Globes nominated her for Best Film Drama Actress for “Danish Girl,” which opened the door for her to be also nominated down in the supporting category for “Ex Machina.”
Like the Golden Globes, the voters in the actors branch of the academy make their own determinations about category placement. While they usually follow the studios’ lead, sometimes they go their own way. They nominated Keisha Castle-Hughes (“Whale Rider,” 2003) and Kate Winslet (“The Reader,” 2008) as leads even after they were pushed as supporting players at earlier events.
That could happen to Vikander as well as Rooney Mara (“Carol“), who has also been campaigned as a supporting actress despite lead-level screentime and story, so the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress could be more open than we think.
“Ex Machina” is a science-fiction film about a tech genius (Oscar Isaac) who creates an artificially intelligent robot (Vikander). Sci-fi isn’t usually popular with the academy, but this is already poised to be a watershed year for the genre, with experts forecasting Best Picture nominations for “The Martian,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Under most circumstances, “Ex Machina” might be at risk of getting lost amid those big-budget blockbusters, but Vikander’s notoriety combined with the film’s critical acclaim (78 on MetaCritic, 92% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes) might give it a shot in the arm.
As it is, “Ex Machina” has already won Vikander more awards this season than “The Danish Girl,” including Best Supporting Actress from the Los Angeles and Chicago film critics, along with prizes from journos in Washington DC, Toronto and Phoenix. She’s also earned noms from various other city and regional critics groups including Detroit, St. Louis, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Austin and London.
What do you think? Could Vikander get two nominations instead of one?
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“The Danish Girl” photo credit: Focus Features
“Ex Machina” photo credit: Moviestore/REX