For Your Consideration~ Some Deserving Oscar Dark Horses

The Oscar season is in full swing and we have several Award worthy films leading the charge like Les Miserables, Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. There are also some indie upstarts trying to crash the party like Beasts of the Southern Wild and some big budget action films that could make the grade like The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall which would be the first Bond film ever to compete for Best Picture if it makes the grade… While all of those films have a good shot at recognition in many categories, I wanted to spotlight a few performances and films that deserve some serious consideration but haven’t been getting much attention yet. So, take a look at my list of very worthy Oscar dark horse contenders below (And hello, can you PLEASE nominate The Impossible and Perks of Being a Wallflower for Best Picture? Pretty Pretty Please!!!) . Then, give me a shout out in the comments and let me know who else you hope gets some kudos on nomination day January 10th.

ewan the impossible1. Ewan McGregor (The Impossible): after being snubbed again and again over the years, most notably and sadly for his wonderful turn in Moulin Rouge, McGregor has his best shot to date to land a Supporting Actor nomination for his brilliant and heart-wrenching work in the tsunami survival drama The Impossible. He has a killer scene in the middle of the film that screams Oscar and his heart and determination throughout the film give it that spirit of uplifting hope that is the film’s overall message. In a less crowded year, McGregor would be a shoo-in for a Supporting nom. However he has to face a wealth of big competitors like Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Alan Arkin (Argo), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson & Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained), John Goodman (Flight & Argo) and hopefully Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) to name a few. That said, I think he has a great shot.

2. Tom Holland (The Impossible): as the teenage son of the aforementioned McGregor and sure-to-be nominated Naomi Watts, Holland is the true lead of the film and does an astonishing job. In his film debut, this stage vet (Billy Elliott) carries a film like a pro running the gamut of emotions from fear, rage, terror and ultimately cathartic joy in a completely honest and beautiful performance. If I could kick out some of the big name Hollywood actors (ahem, Joaquin Phoenix) and put him the final five for Best Actor, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

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3. Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables): going into the film, many insiders thought Russell Crowe had the strongest shot for a Supporting Actor nod from the masterpiece musical Les Miserables. However, it’s Redmayne who surprised everyone with his gorgeous voice and devastating performance (hello, cue the bawling on “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”). He gave the character of the young revolutionary/lover Marius more gravity and humor than I’d seen in any production, is the true heart of the film, and he deserves to be mentioned along his surefire nominee costars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway (who will and deserves to win).

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4. Samantha Barks (Les Miserables): as I stated above, Anne Hathaway deserves to win the Oscar for Supporting Actress this year. However, her costar, British stage actress and first time film actress Barks should make the final five as well. She is incandescent in her film debut and has an amazing voice. Not only is her standout number “On My Own” fantastic, but her final number “A Little Fall of Rain” is another devastating and breathtaking moment alongside Redmayne. She better make the list or I’m gonna jump off a bridge… Ok, maybe off a small curb, but still.

5. Alan Cumming (Any Day Now): in the fantastic gay indie dramedy Any Day Now, Cumming plays a drag performer who gets involved with a closeted lawyer and tries to gain custody of a young mentally handicapped boy. Oh, and did I mention it takes place in 1979? This wonderful tear-jerker is a fantastic film about what it means to fight for those who have no one fighting for them and the true meaning of love and equality. Cumming leads that charge with humor, heart and a bravura performance that should’ve gotten him Golden Globe and Independent Spirit noms. If only, the Academy members actually watch the film, I bet they’d agree.

alan any day now

6. James Badge Dale (Flight): as a cancer stricken patient in Flight, Dale has only one scene, but damn is it a doozy! He practically steals the whole film from the brilliant Denzel Washington. He’s equally funny, fearless and fierce in this portrayal of a man coming to grips with the end of his days who can still flirt with the wonderful Kelly Reilly and inspire others to carry on. His anger, hope, frustration and acceptance of his mortality are all exhibited in this amazing brief scene. He may miss out on a Supporting nod this year, but he’ll get one some day with work like this.

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7. Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect): let’s be honest~ every single thing that Wilson did in Pitch Perfect as Fat Amy was absolutely hysterical. She stole the spotlight from the great Anna Kendrick in this hilarious college singing comedy in what I’d say is by far the comedic performance of the year… And hey, if Melissa McCarthy can get in for Bridesmaids, maybe Wilson could actually have a shot?

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8. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower): this trio of actors from the brilliant and funny tear-jerker are so real and fantastic in Perks, that all three should be seriously considered for noms. Miller and Watson have landed a few critical nominations but all three have missed out on the big races. It’s a shame because each of them is just perfection as the lost, wounded funny introvert (Lerman), the gay outcast that is outwardly strong but hiding a secret heartbreak (Miller) and the wayward girl trying to repair her rep but always making the wrong choices (Watson). The film is a modern-day Breakfast Club and simply one of the best of the year buoyed by these amazing performances.

perks poster

9. Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty): while the lions share of the praise for Zero Dark Thirty has gone to the great direction, screenplay and the amazing Jessica Chastain (who should win Best Actress this year if you ask me), supporting player Jason Clarke merits a great deal of recognition as well. As a CIA operative who has to inflict torture on his captives to gain imperative information, Clarke has more shades than seem possible. You can see his anguish in the actions he must take but also the determination and confidence in knowing he must do this for the greater good. He also oozes an unexpected sex appeal in his scenes with Chastain. This is finally the Hollywood role that will send him to the A list even if he misses out on a Supporting nom.

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10. Tom Wilkinson (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel): this former nominee (In the Bedroom, Michael Clayton) should be in the running for a win in the Supporting race if I had anything to do with it for this wonderful and tear-inducing performance as a gay man searching for resolution from a long-lost love in Hotel. You see a lifetime of loss in his eyes and hope for a romantic reunion in his golden years. It’s a subtle and beautiful performance.

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11. Emaynazy Cortleadi (Middle of Nowhere): in this little indie, Cortleadi plays a woman who is stuck metaphorically and physically in a life and a love going nowhere. She’s torn between beginning a new life and searching after long-buried dreams or holding on to the relationship with her incarcerated husband. Cortleadi is transcendent in the role and is up for an Independent Sprirt award. If only Academy members would watch this small film, she could be a spoiler nom in the Best Actress race. It’s a bold breakout performance.

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12. The Gayby screenplay: Jonathan Lisecki’s hilarious and touching screenplay for the indie Gayby is one of the most fun and fearless of 2012 and should be a contender for Original Screenplay. Following the trajectory of a straight woman (the hysterical Jenn Harris) and her gay best friend (the charmingly great Matthew Wilkas) who decide to have a baby together rises above sitcom situations with incredible heart and laugh out loud humor. It’s a relatable human story on impending parenthood for hopeless and disastrous romantics. And it’s just darn funny.

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12. “One Wing” (Sparkle): Sure Sparkle was just a light fun movie about a group of sisters trying to find pop success as a girl group in the 60’s. And yes, it featured the acting debut of American Idol Jordin Sparks (who was quite fine in the role, thank you) and the final film appearance of the iconic Whitney Houston who also does a nice job. However, what you really take away from the film is the great music and the final performance song “One Wing” written by R&B superstar R. Kelly is a showstopper. Sparks sings the crap out of the song which is about the fight to move forward when you have so many obstacles in your path and it should make the list for this year’s Best Original Song category.

Jordin Sparks “One Wing” from Sparkle

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