Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar veterans hoping for another nomination this year

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Each and every single awards season, there are tons of both newcomers and veterans to the Oscar game. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a bit of a look at those seeking their first nominations from the Academy, but today I’m going to be going ahead and listing some of the major players who’ve already been nominated before, and in some cases are already winners. It’s leading up to me re-ranking the contenders in the major categories next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which old hands to the Oscar ranch are saddling up for another ride on the awards season pony.

In the Best Actor race, the highest profile former nominee is Joaquin Phoenix, who will look for his first win this year with Inherent Vice. He represents the most likely non first time nominee who could win the Oscar in this category, though one level down we have Bradley Cooper for American Sniper and Bill Murray for St. Vincent, with Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler and Brad Pitt for Fury as other possibilities, plus Ben Affleck, who I’m counting here since he’s an Oscar winner, even if he’s never received an acting citation to date. Longer shots for nominations who’ve been to the dance before include Christian Bale for Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Philip Seymour Hoffman for A Most Wanted Man, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, Al Pacino for Manglehorn, Jeremy Renner for Kill the Messenger, and Mark Walhberg for The Gambler. Those fellas will be fighting it out with a bunch of first timers in this category, and it’s going to be a bloodbath.

Over in Best Actress, we have perennial bridesmaid Amy Adams hoping that this year she’ll finally be the bride with her work in Big Eyes. She’s going to be getting a challenge from both Jessica Chastain (for either The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Miss Julie, or A Most Violent Year) and Reese Witherspoon for Wild though. One level down you have Julianne Moore for Still Alice and Meryl Streep for Into the Woods, with other former nominees/winner on the hunt including Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant or Two Days One Night, Keira Knightley for Begin Again, Hilary Swank for The Homesman, Kate Winslet for A Little Chaos, and Robin Wright for The Congress. The newbies could seriously vie for a win here, but the vets have a good chance to hold them off.

With the Best Supporting Actor contenders, there’s no shortage of previously nominated veterans, with Josh Brolin for Inherent Vice, Edward Norton for Birdman, Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, and Christoph Waltz for Big Eyes leading the charge. More than any other category, this could be the one dominated by vets. One level down we have Ethan Hawke for Boyhood and Tim Roth for Selma, followed by Albert Brooks for A Most Violent Year, Michael Caine for Interstellar, Robert Duvall for The Judge, Michael Shannon for 99 Homes, and Tom Wilkinson for Selma. Other names to look for include Johnny Depp for Into the Woods, James Franco for True Story, and John Lithgow for Love is Strange. This race will likely be filled to the brim with old hands at this.

As for Best Supporting Actress, it could really go either way. Newcomers will have a shot, but veterans like the aforementioned Chastain (depending on category placement for A Most Violent Year, if not for Interstellar), Laura Dern for Wild, Anna Kendrick for Into the Woods, and Keira Knightly for The Imitation Game could be in the early lead. One level down are contenders like Melissa McCarthy for St. Vincent, Vanessa Redgrave for Foxcatcher, and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent (or Birdman), while the rest of the list includes the likes of Viola Davis for Get On Up, Jane Fonda for This Is Where I Leave You, Uma Thurman for Nymphomaniac Vol. 1, and Marisa Tomei for Love is Strange.

In the case of the Best Director hopefuls, it’s dominated by veterans. Films from the likes of previous nominees Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), Angelina Jolie (Unbroken), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), and Jason Reitman (Men, Women & Children) are the clear favorites here. Other contenders include J.C. Chandor for A Most Violent Year, Stephen Daldry for Trash, Clint Eastwood for American Sniper, Mike Leigh for Mr. Turner, and Rob Marshall for Into the Woods, with longer shots being Wes Adnerson for The Grand Budapest Hotel and Ridley Scott for Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Finally, there are some scribes looking to get in good with the Academy once again in Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. Aside from the directors who also had a hand in writing their movies, writers like Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight), the Coen Brothers (Unbroken), Richard Curtis (Trash), Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher), Nick Hornby (Wild), and William Monaghan (The Gambler) are just some of the folks who have a hand in major contenders. Their flicks are all locked in pretty tight battles for Adapted and Original too…

Stay tuned tomorrow when I take a look at the first timers hoping for some Oscar love!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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