Oscars 2013, Best Actor: The Old Men and the Sea

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This year’s frontrunners for the Best Actor Oscar are a mixture of newcomers, revived careers, and old favorites, including two superstars starring in tales on the high seas. In alphabetical order:

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave. Ejiofor has been around for a while now (he was terrific over a decade ago in Dirty Pretty Things) but he’s certainly not a household name. But given the buzz this film and his performance has been getting, Jennifer Lawrence had better start to learn how to pronounce his name.



Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips. Hanks has been out of the Oscar picture for well over a decade, since his last nomination for Cast Away. He’s back with a vengeance this year with a likely nomination for this film about modern-day piracy, as well as a possible twofer for his supporting role as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers’ Club. With such a bright future that seemed to be squandered on bad romantic comedies, McConaughey’s comeback will probably see his first nomination, as an AIDS patient. He also has a chance at a supporting nomination, for either Mud or The Wolf of Wall Street.*

Robert Redford, All Is Lost. Hanks is a kid compared to Redford, a matinee idol from a generation ago who is now an eminence grise. He is the only actor that appears in this film as a man lost at sea. Redford has won two Oscars, but not for acting. He won for directing Ordinary People and a honorary Oscar. In fact, he has only received one acting nomination, forty years ago for The Sting. 

Forest Whitaker, The Butler. I’m not sure about this one, and I wasn’t impressed with the performance, but if the film gets traction Whitaker may get swept up along with it. This is one of those characters that thing happen to, rather than instigating them, and a lot of times they don’t get nominated.

Also conceivable: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonard DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street*; Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station.

* The Wolf of Wall Street may move to 2014, as it will miss it’s November release, due to a 180-minute length. Time will tell as whether it be ready for a Christmas release. 

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

5 responses »

  1. My general feeling at this point is that McConaughey is the one to beat. It’s a showy role, dealing with socially important issues, and that required a radical physical transformation to boot. And despite his long track record of mediocrity, I’ve always gotten the feeling that McConaughey was well-liked by his peers.

    There’s all kinds of storylines at work here. He’s a guy finally making good on the promise he showed all those years ago. His career turnaround has included other good movies that validate his nomination for this one, unlike say, Eddie Murphy with his Dreamgirls nomination. He’s a genuine box office draw that casual Oscar viewers will care about. I just don’t see it going any other way, unless the movie turns out to be terrible. There’s so much in his favor.

  2. I was under the impression his roles were mediocre, his choices, I mean, and not his performances. He’s been aces since his small role in Lone Star proved he could act alongside the greats and hold his own doing-so.

  3. Has any actor/actress had a more curious career in the last couple of decades than McConaughey?

    When his star was on the rise in the mid to late 1990s he worked with a lot of significant directors on ambitious films – not all of them were successful but they were generally worthy, serious efforts.

    And yet the 2000s is almost a total wipeout on that front as he’s in almost exclusively in throwaway romantic comedies

    But starting with The Lincoln Lawyer, it’s almost as if the 2000s never occurred and he was on the path in the 1990s that led Empire Magazine to label him the next Paul Newman.

    I haven’t seen many of his films but it’s always come through that he’s had the star quality charisma that not many actors have. Even in something as throwaway as ‘How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days’ he had the charm to make the film more tolerable than it should’ve been.

  4. Did you know that Jeff Wells has a quote included in the trailer for All Is Lost? I saw it last weekend and was mildly amused by that

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