Felicity Jones: Oscar newbies hoping for a first citation this year

Much like I took a look yesterday at veterans in contention for Oscar love the year, today I’m going to be turning my attention to the newbies who hope to receive some awards love. As I mentioned in the last piece, this is leading up to me doing a re-ranking of the contenders in all of the major categories beginning next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which rookies to the Oscar season are gearing up to hopefully make their big debuts on the awards circuit. Some are even in a position to win Academy Awards.

First up is Best Actor. In this race, the highest profile would be first time nominee would be either Steve Carell for Foxcatcher or Michael Keaton for Birdman. They’ve been frontrunners to many for basically this entire season. A tiny level down are more recent additions to the first timer’s party in Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Other contenders here with a strong chance include Oscar Isaac for A Most Violent Year, Jack O’Connell for Unbroken, David Oyelowo for Selma, Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner, and Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher. Rounding out the list, we have the likes of Gael Garcia Bernal for Rosewater, Ellar Coltrane for Boyhood, John Cusack for Love and Mercy, Richard Gere for Time Out of Mind, Bill Hader for The Skeleton Twins, and Miles Teller for Whiplash. Much like with the veterans, it’s going to be rough seeing how many worthy contenders don’t crack the lineup. This category is absolutely stacked.

Over in Best Actress, there are two major first timers right at the top of the list. They are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything and Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. They both represent major threats in this category, with Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin and Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars one level down. Also hovering around this category are Rosemarie DeWitt for Men Women & Children, Anne Dorval for Mommy, Mia Wasikowska for Tracks, and Kristen Wiig for The Skeleton Twins. The majority of the women in the ultimate Best Actress lineup this year will be vets, but the winner could very well turn out to be a first time nominee.

With the Best Supporting Actor contenders, the field is potentially being led by a first timer, with J.K. Simmons for Whiplash a presumed frontrunner. The other main players tend to be vets here, but newbies like Paul Dano for Love and Mercy, the late James Gandolfini for The Drop, Domhnall Gleeson for Unbroken, John Goodman for The Gambler, Neil Patrick Harris for Gone Girl, Logan Lerman for Fury, Michael Pena for Fury, and Adam Sandler for Men Women & Children. Simmons could win, but if not him, expect it to be a previous nominee.

As for Best Supporting Actress, this is the one category full of would be first time nominees. We’re led by Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, as well as Emily Blunt for Into the Woods and Emma Stone for Birdman. One level down we have Carrie Coon for Gone Girl, Carmen Ejogo for Selma, Rene Russo for Nightcrawler, Kristen Stewart for Clouds of Sils Maria, and Katherine Waterston for Inherent Vice. Other ladies in this field include Jennifer Garner for Men Women & Children, Judy Greer for Men Women & Children, Brie Larson for The Gambler, and Jena Malone for Inherent Vice. A packed field in a weaker category, to say the least.

In the case of the Best Director hopefuls, there are only a handful of newcomers to the category. The main notable ones are David Ayer for Fury, Ava DuVernay for Selma, Jon Stewart for Rosewater, and Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game. One level down we have Ned Benson for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Damien Chazelle for Whiplash, and Theodore Melfi for St. Vincent, with other contenders including and Ramin Bahrani for 99 Homes, Xavier Dolan for Mommy, and Rupert Wyatt for The Gambler. Most of the nominees will wind up being vets, but anything is possible.

Finally, we have the scribes seeking their first recognition in Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. Aside from the directors mentioned above who also had a hand in writing their movies, we have contenders here like John Carney for Begin Again, Jon Favreau for Chef, Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl, Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler, Anthony Dean Hall for American Sniper, Dennis LeHane for The Drop, Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything, Graham Moore for The Imitation Game, Ira Sachs for Love is Strange, Mark Heyman/Craig Johnson for The Skeleton Twins, and Jonathan Tropper for This is Where I Leave You. There’s at least one or two here who could crack the Adapted/Original lineups…

Stay tuned for updated rankings of these categories next week!

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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