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by Peter Knegt
January 28, 2014 12:27 PM
4 Comments
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For Your Consideration: Sundance and Next Year's Oscars

Sean Porter's "Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter"
Best Actress: This category is generally very kind to Sundance lately (or maybe Sundance has just been a very welcoming place for great female performances), with six of the last 25 best-actress nominees debuting their work at the Sundance Film Festival (Quvenzhane Wallis, Gabourey Sidibe, Carey Mulligan, Michelle Williams, Annette Bening and Jennifer Lawrence). But last year was an exception to that rule (with Julie Delpy probably coming closest for "Before Midnight") and this year looking... even less promising. Rinko Kikuchi (nominated for an Oscar for "Babel" back in 2006) got raves for "Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter," but it just seems like it's too small and strange a film for Oscar's tastes. Zoe Saldana ("Infinitely Polar Bear"), Ellen Dorrit Petersen ("Blind"), Keira Knightley ("Laggies"), Elle Fanning ("Low Down") and Kristen Wiig ("The Skeleton Twins") will all surely get kind reviews when their films find theatrical release... But Oscar nominations seem pretty unlikely (at least for now).

Most Likely To Succeed: No one, really.
Dark Horses: Rinko KikuchiKumiko, The Treasure Hunter; Zoe Saldana, Infinitely Polar Bear; Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Blind; Keira Knightley, Laggies; Elle Fanning, Low Down; Kristen Wiig, The Skeleton Twins

Best Supporting Actor: If I had to place a bet on one Oscar nominee to come out of Sundance, it's J.K. Simmons.  The character actor gives career best work as the fearsome maestro of jazz in "Whiplash," and it's totally the kind of performance that Oscar voters eat up -- especially when it's care of an actor who has long gone unnoticed. And then there's Ethan Hawke, who might be the strongest option from Linklater's "Boyhood" to get a major nomination (it's unique territory given his performance comes over 12 years of shooting), while Jonathan Pryce is fantastic in "Listen Up Phillip," even though the movie itself might be too small to get major awards recognition.

Most Likely To Succeed: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Dark Horses: Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Jonathan Pryce, Listen Up Phillip

Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei sure has shown the naysayers who said her 1993 win for "My Cousin Vinny" was a fluke (or even an accident). She's been nominated twice since, and stands a good shot at more recognition for her subtle, layered work in Ira Sachs' "Love Is Strange." Though not as showy a role as Lithgow's or Molina's, it's arguably just as impressive. And as far as "showy" goes, Eva Green's performance in Gregg Araki's "White Bird In a Blizzard" sure falls under the category -- with her Bette Davis-inspired work as a totally insane housewife by far the actress's best work of her career -- though it's probably not quite in line with the Academy's tastes. Maybe a bit more likely are Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood") and Elisabeth Moss ("Listen Up Phillip"). Both should at the very least expect to be in contention for Spirit Award nominations.

Most Likely To Succeed: Marisa Tomei, Love is Strange
Dark Horses: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Elisabeth Moss, Listen Up Phillip, Eva Green, White Bird In a Blizzard

Best Documentary Feature: Here's where we have some certainty. It's reasonable to feel assured that at least one of Sundance's docs will end up an Oscar nominee, if not two, three, four or all five (this year, as noted, four screened at Sundance). Though while the idea of a doc from Sundance being nominated is a very good bet, knowing which doc makes it is next to impossible. Last year one would have thought films like "Blackfish" or "After Tiller" might have ended up nominees, but that wasn't the case. This year, there's basically a 20 film-long laundry list to choose from, though I'd give "Life Itself," "Rich Hill," "The Overnighters," "The Case Against 8" and "The Battered Bastards of Baseball" the edge.

Most Likely To Succeed: Life Itself; The Overnighters; Rich Hill; The Battered Bastards of Baseball; The Case Against 8; Last Days in Vietnam; The Internet's Own Boy
Dark Horses: Concerning Violence; Dinosaur 13; Alive Inside, Happy Valley; E-TEAM, Return To Homs; Watchers of the Sky; Ivory Tower; The Green Prince; 20,000 Days on Earth.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Writer and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter if you want more of the same.


4 Comments

  • brian fantana | January 29, 2014 1:59 PMReply

    Richard Linklater's direction and just the overall scope of BOYHOOD is such a towering achievement he should be considered a "most likely to succeed" Best Director for next year.

  • Tyler | January 29, 2014 12:38 AMReply

    WEB JUNKIE. Such a great documentary that unfortunately did not receive the buzz it deserved.
    I would definitely agree that Alive inside, Life Itself and Case Against 8 are very VERY good oscar bets.

  • JCS | January 28, 2014 5:21 PMReply

    what about Cold in July?

  • Josh | January 28, 2014 1:25 PMReply

    Why?