Here’s the challenge of the 2014 Oscars race – well, the first of many challenges, and possibly the largest. No matter how many movies the Academy slots into the Best Pictures race – from six to eight to 10 – there can be only five Best Director nominees … meaning a handful of filmmakers who saw their movies nominated for BP are on the outside of the Director’s race, looking in. There isn’t much that we can do about this flawed system, because we’re rarely going to have as many Best Director nominees as there will be Best Picture nominees.
The Supporting Acting categories can be crapshoots. They’re often crowded with character actors who have stolen the spotlight away from a movie’s lead (see recent winners Christoph Waltz, Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger for examples). But the categories often can be catch-all spots used by the Academy to recognize an actor who has gone the duration of a career without being acknowledged with an Oscar, and so they are rewarded for a part that might not be trophy-worthy.
Meryl vs. Oprah. It’s the matchup that likely has the 2014 Oscar producers dreaming of Nielsen ratings, as Americans tentatively turn out to see perennial Oscar champ Meryl Streep go toe-to-toe with the Queen of All Media -- Oprah Winfrey – in this year’s Best Supporting Actress category.
The summer blockbuster season has begun to fade, meaning superhero tent poles and high-priced sequels will give way to star-studded prestige pictures with Oscar aspirations. Move over, 'Pacific Rim.' Pull up a chair, 'Saving Mr. Banks.' We already have an 2014 Oscar host in Ellen DeGeneres. Now we need to fill a scorecard with nominees in all the major categories ... something we'll have fun with from now until the 2014 Oscar envelopes are opened on Sunday, March 2, 2014.
Even before we know which actors will make it into the five allotted 2014 Oscar Best Actor slots, I can make one guarantee: There will be three or four extremely talented performers on the outside looking in. Anytime someone of Michael B. Jordan’s caliber can’t make a short list of Best Actor nominations for his heart-wrenching portrayal in ‘Fruitvale Station,’ you know it must be a crowded field.
Early in the game, candidates for 2014 Oscar nominations are written down in pencil. A lot can happen between now and the morning Oscar’s nominations are revealed, and the game changes often.