Every year, the same movies snatch up a big portion of the Oscar nominations. Then, we hear about these movies for months as we lead up to Oscar night. And while this year has been a pretty exciting race (I’d say the winners for both lead acting categories are up in the air), and there were a few surprise nominees that snuck in at the last moment (what’s up, Demian Birchir?), it can get a little bit repetitive to hear about the same movies over and over again, even if you enjoyed them.
In hopes of offering a change of pace, I’ve compiled my own “Oscar” list of sorts. For my categories, I ignored all of the existing Oscar nominees and focussed on films and performances that didn’t receive as much awards attention this year. I also omitted people like Shailene Woodley, who did not receive an Oscar nomination but still got lots of attention from critics, bloggers, and awards groups leading up to the nominations.
Also, keep in mind that there are still lots of films from this year that I need to see. Shame, Take Shelter, Melancholia, and Martha Marcy May Marlene are just a few on that list.
Enjoy, and feel free to post your own “alternative Oscars” in the comments.
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
It may be a small, unassuming film, but Meek’s Cutoff stuck with me in a big way this year. The film is unconventional in almost every way (the pacing, the mumbled dialogue, the refusal to punch up the story with high drama), and it’s a true achievement in cinema.
Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Carey Fukanaga, Jane Eyre
Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive
Kelly Reichardt, Meek’s Cutoff
Again, I have to give this one to Meek’s Cutoff. While Nicholas Winding Refn offered a masterclass in cool and Tomas Alfredson built insane tension around old guys sitting around talking in a room, Kelly Reichardt created something truly unique. I didn’t care for her last project, Wendy and Lucy, but her deliberate pace and sparse, terse tone worked wonders in Meek’s.
Dominic Cooper, The Devil’s Double
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Tom Hardy, Warrior
Ewan McGregor, Beginners
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris
Cooper masters not one but two challenging roles in this messy film. He’s chilling and downright crazy as Sadam Hussein’s son, Uday, and also deeply sympathetic as Latif, the man hired as Uday’s double. It’s a towering pair of performances, and Cooper finally realizes the potential he showed in small roles in films such as Starter for 10 and An Education.
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Keira Knightley, Last Night
Mia Wasikowska, Jane Eyre
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Robin Wright, The Conspirator
Wiig gives a downright brilliant comedic performance in Bridesmaids, and sometimes that is enough for me. She throws herself into every gag headfirst, and she comes out in the end with a highly charming, perfectly executed performance. McCarthy is also great, but for me, Wiig is the reason to watch Bridesmaids.
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre
Colin Ford, We Bought a Zoo
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Ides of March
Simon Pegg, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mark Strong, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I thought Fassbender was a tad overrated in X-Men (sorry), but he reminded me why I loved him so much in Fish Tank with a similarly physical and subtly threatening performance in the gorgeous Jane Eyre. He oozes charisma here, and makes for a completely magnetic screen presence. Kudos to Mark Strong, too, for fantastic scene-stealing work in Tinker Tailor, and for converting me into a Mark Strong fan.
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life
Anna Kendrick, 50/50
Carey Mulligan, Drive
Amy Ryan, Win Win
Michelle Williams, Meek’s Cutoff
It was the year of Chastain, and my favourite performance of hers (though I haven’t seen them all) was as the ethereal wife in The Tree of Life. It’s a beautiful, moving performance, and she slips seamlessly into the languid tone of the film.