Trophy Talk

Six Oscar Long Shots Who Could Surprise Us Come Nominations Morning

An Oscar for a scream queen, a "Walking Dead" star, and a first-time actress? It could happen.

by | January 15, 2019 | Comments

With Sunday’s Critic’s Choice Award ceremony done, all of the prominent critics groups have had their say on the best films of 2018. Each year, countless critics associations host year-end awards to recognize exceptional filmmaking, but the National Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, and Broadcast Film Critics Association are carefully considered when making Oscars predictions. Each group will say they are independent to the academy in voting, tastes, and identity, but they help shape the race for the big one. And so we have our eyes on them.

Our Awards Leaderboard tracks major critics groups’ and guilds’ honors, and looking at the current leaders, we think Roma, If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Favourite should feel fairly confident of some Oscar love when the nominations are announced on Tuesday. (Regina King, Olivia Colman, and Richard E. Grant in particular would not be risking much to set an early alarm.) This year, though, there have been coordinated efforts to bring lesser-known films and performances into the conversation, so we’re also expecting a number of surprises among the noms. Where might those surprises come from? Below, we’re looking at Oscar long shots who might just have enough buzz – and which have a couple of awards already in the bag – to break through with some Oscar voters.

Toni Collette, Hereditary (2018) 89% – Best Actress
Already recognized by: Gotham Awards, Film Independent

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Do we need to say more about what Toni Collette did in Hereditary? It seems some may have forgotten the greatest full body performance of 2018. In the movie – which caught fire at Sundance and made an impact at the box office – Collette gifted all of us with a face-screwed-screech-filled-terrified performance that takes at least three viewings to fully deconstruct. The Aussie actress started strong this awards season with a Gotham win followed by a Film Independent nomination, but then things went quiet. Collette would be vying for the open fifth Best Actress nomination – assuming favorites Colman, Lady Gaga, Glenn Close, and Melissa McCarthy all come through as expected. She will need those horror lovers in the Academy to champion her incredible work.

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (2018) 96% – Best Actress
Already Recognized by: BFCA, Gotham Awards

(Photo by © Netflix)

It’s worth noting the star of the most awarded film of the season has gone largely unrecognized. An unknown actress, in a black-and-white foreign language film, distributed on a platform many Academy voters herald as the end of cinema, is a hard sell. Director Alfonso Cuarón has repeatedly said Roma does not exist without the women who inspired and made it, but the accolades have not exactly come streaming in. In Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical love letter to Mexico and the woman who raised him, Aparicio gave depth and aching authenticity to a character rarely featured on screen. Cuarón painted a masterpiece, but Aparicio is the canvas, paint, and brush.

Steven Yeun, Burning (Beoning) (2018) 94% – Best Actor
Already Recognized by: LAFCA, NSFC

Steven Yeun in Burning
(Photo by @ Go Well USA)

Yeun’s performance as a South Korean playboy in Burning is ethereal, charismatic, and unnerving. Another foreign language entry, Lee Chang-dong’s noir-thriller slowly unravels and builds to a climactic twist you don’t see coming – and so much of it rests on the former Walking Dead star’s performance; our thoughts on Yuen’s character, Ben, mirror how we interpret the events of the film. Is he just a spoiled playboy formulating sinister plots for entertainment? Or is he a calculating psychopath? Or maybe just a guy who likes to burn greenhouses? It all rests on what we see in Yuen, in his gaze or sly smile. It’s a tightrope to pull off a likable Oscar-worthy villain, and Yeun makes it look effortless. The formula worked for Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, so fingers crossed.

Debra Granik, Leave No Trace (2018) 100% – Best Director
Already Recognized by: Film Independent, National Board of Review, LAFCA

Thomasin McKenzie and Debra Granik
(Photo by JA/Everett Collection)

In a year littered with exceptional work by female directors, it’s hard to justify their lack of inclusion come award time. The Rider, You Were Never Really Here, A Private Life, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Destroyer… all are worthy of recognition. But Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace distinguishes itself from even those stellar entries – and not just because it still sits at 100% on our Tomatometer after 200 reviews. Director Jane Campion may have said it best in her impassioned plea for Leave No Trace: “A film filled with compassion… it has had a powerful impact on audiences. Not because it is loud, but because the truth that Granik speaks quietly can be heard even in a noisy world.”

Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (2018) 99% – Best Actress
Already Recognized by: Film Independent, Gotham Awards, DGA, BFCA, NYFCC

Eighth Grade (A24)
(Photo by © A24)

Cringeworthy Cinema: that’s how Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade and its star Elsie Fisher charmed their way into our hearts. Reliving the painfully awkward moments of adolescence with such unflinching honesty, Fisher gave the best performance of the year that we had to watch through fingers and stooping down in our seats. (OK, maybe tied with Collette – but for very different reasons.) Burnham’s script is the quintessential coming-of-age story for the YouTube generation and, as with Roma, his film lives or dies by its central performance. As Kayla, Fisher is relatable and endearing for tweens and their parents, finding a perfect blend of earnestness and mortification.

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (2018) 93% – Best Actor
Already Recognized by: Film Independent, Gotham Awards, NYFCC, BFCA, LAFCA, NSFC

(Photo by © A24)

Ethan Hawke often remarks that he doesn’t want to be known just for the Dead Poets Society. But after the over 30 years, 80 credits, four Oscar nominations, and countless more beloved performances, Hawke still hears “Oh Captain, My Captain” on the regular. His turn as the conflicted and apathetic Reverend Toller is miles away from any previous role he has done. Many are taking notice: With a near clean sweep of the critics associations, Hawke’s performance in First Reformed is second only to Regina King’s in Beale Street in regards to acclaim this season. Why isn’t he a lock for an Oscar nom? Hawke’s lack of movement outside of the critics groups’ awards does not bode well. We’ll be watching this one keenly.

Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tag Cloud

crime drama El Rey Pet Sematary Red Carpet psycho sequel The Arrangement mutant anthology festivals science fiction 2015 BBC America Star Trek Rom-Com facebook Sundance CBS All Access Reality Competition SXSW CBS ABC Opinion Song of Ice and Fire Marathons Trailer cooking National Geographic SundanceTV Mary Poppins Returns cops Musical Awards Tour APB Tumblr TruTV serial killer political drama Star Wars zero dark thirty GLAAD Syfy Britbox MSNBC Adult Swim hist Extras 20th Century Fox 2016 Shondaland ESPN spider-man Ghostbusters richard e. Grant 45 Comics on TV Watching Series comic RT21 streaming Nat Geo elevated horror Reality Countdown Fantasy Brie Larson Interview Animation supernatural VICE MCU Amazon Prime Best and Worst casting dc Disney Channel Showtime DirecTV The CW A&E medical drama diversity Valentine's Day Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TCA composers based on movie romance Warner Bros. HBO LGBTQ YouTube Premium crime thriller PBS Cosplay Superheroe true crime TV Land History Infographic golden globes Sony Pictures First Look Acorn TV Lionsgate Apple Marvel Tomatazos FXX Disney harry potter television crossover Amazon Awards transformers jamie lee curtis sports boxoffice Universal Netflix Shudder CNN Box Office Western discovery USA Masterpiece doctor who theme song Thanksgiving Mary poppins 24 frames YouTube Red Bravo President TNT TV dceu Spectrum Originals Mystery Super Bowl TCA 2017 WGN docudrama FOX Photos witnail vampires IFC NYCC Mudbound adventure Crackle Nickelodeon MTV spy thriller singing competition biography X-Men Starz Spike dragons San Diego Comic-Con Ovation TBS Paramount Cartoon Network technology 2019 dramedy PaleyFest cinemax psychological thriller Action OWN Nominations GIFs American Society of Cinematographers Year in Review DGA YA Grammys Esquire Character Guide aliens Quiz Comedy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Christmas crime Certified Fresh thriller Ellie Kemper green book 2017 NBC Creative Arts Emmys Women's History Month GoT CMT TLC Music CW Seed Election Martial Arts RT History teaser Lucasfilm Set visit Freeform E! police drama talk show Rock ABC Family 007 adaptation FX 2018 Holidays Superheroes cults Food Network IFC Films justice league Musicals Anna Paquin Pop Mindy Kaling Mary Tyler Moore Toys AMC Black Mirror Pirates zombie anime Trophy Talk Biopics Paramount Network Video Games period drama cats Emmys Fox News Winners BET what to watch Summer ratings Premiere Dates DC Comics mockumentary blaxploitation E3 Rocky Comic Book Captain marvel SDCC award winner robots BBC Writers Guild of America Sneak Peek Epix Horror politics binge Polls and Games comiccon natural history Oscars 21st Century Fox TIFF Walt Disney Pictures Podcast Trivia travel Hulu VH1 Drama Calendar Comedy Central See It Skip It Country Columbia Pictures war Lifetime Teen miniseries Logo TCM Stephen King ITV Schedule social media unscripted DC Universe zombies Fall TV New York Comic Con sitcom DC streaming service Spring TV finale nature Winter TV USA Network Kids & Family Dark Horse Comics Sci-Fi Pixar Sundance Now historical drama