Trophy Talk

Six Oscar Long Shots Who Could Surprise Us Come Nominations Morning

An Oscar for a scream queen, a "Walking Dead" star, and a first-time actress? It could happen.

by | January 15, 2019 | Comments

With Sunday’s Critic’s Choice Award ceremony done, all of the prominent critics groups have had their say on the best films of 2018. Each year, countless critics associations host year-end awards to recognize exceptional filmmaking, but the National Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, and Broadcast Film Critics Association are carefully considered when making Oscars predictions. Each group will say they are independent to the academy in voting, tastes, and identity, but they help shape the race for the big one. And so we have our eyes on them.

Our Awards Leaderboard tracks major critics groups’ and guilds’ honors, and looking at the current leaders, we think Roma, If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Favourite should feel fairly confident of some Oscar love when the nominations are announced on Tuesday. (Regina King, Olivia Colman, and Richard E. Grant in particular would not be risking much to set an early alarm.) This year, though, there have been coordinated efforts to bring lesser-known films and performances into the conversation, so we’re also expecting a number of surprises among the noms. Where might those surprises come from? Below, we’re looking at Oscar long shots who might just have enough buzz – and which have a couple of awards already in the bag – to break through with some Oscar voters.

Toni Collette, Hereditary (2018) 89% – Best Actress
Already recognized by: Gotham Awards, Film Independent

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Do we need to say more about what Toni Collette did in Hereditary? It seems some may have forgotten the greatest full body performance of 2018. In the movie – which caught fire at Sundance and made an impact at the box office – Collette gifted all of us with a face-screwed-screech-filled-terrified performance that takes at least three viewings to fully deconstruct. The Aussie actress started strong this awards season with a Gotham win followed by a Film Independent nomination, but then things went quiet. Collette would be vying for the open fifth Best Actress nomination – assuming favorites Colman, Lady Gaga, Glenn Close, and Melissa McCarthy all come through as expected. She will need those horror lovers in the Academy to champion her incredible work.

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (2018) 96% – Best Actress
Already Recognized by: BFCA, Gotham Awards


(Photo by © Netflix)

It’s worth noting the star of the most awarded film of the season has gone largely unrecognized. An unknown actress, in a black-and-white foreign language film, distributed on a platform many Academy voters herald as the end of cinema, is a hard sell. Director Alfonso Cuarón has repeatedly said Roma does not exist without the women who inspired and made it, but the accolades have not exactly come streaming in. In Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical love letter to Mexico and the woman who raised him, Aparicio gave depth and aching authenticity to a character rarely featured on screen. Cuarón painted a masterpiece, but Aparicio is the canvas, paint, and brush.

Steven Yeun, Burning (2018) 95% – Best Actor
Already Recognized by: LAFCA, NSFC

Steven Yeun in Burning

(Photo by @ Go Well USA)

Yeun’s performance as a South Korean playboy in Burning is ethereal, charismatic, and unnerving. Another foreign language entry, Lee Chang-dong’s noir-thriller slowly unravels and builds to a climactic twist you don’t see coming – and so much of it rests on the former Walking Dead star’s performance; our thoughts on Yuen’s character, Ben, mirror how we interpret the events of the film. Is he just a spoiled playboy formulating sinister plots for entertainment? Or is he a calculating psychopath? Or maybe just a guy who likes to burn greenhouses? It all rests on what we see in Yuen, in his gaze or sly smile. It’s a tightrope to pull off a likable Oscar-worthy villain, and Yeun makes it look effortless. The formula worked for Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, so fingers crossed.

Debra Granik, Leave No Trace (2018) 100% – Best Director
Already Recognized by: Film Independent, National Board of Review, LAFCA

Thomasin McKenzie and Debra Granik

(Photo by JA/Everett Collection)

In a year littered with exceptional work by female directors, it’s hard to justify their lack of inclusion come award time. The Rider, You Were Never Really Here, A Private Life, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Destroyer… all are worthy of recognition. But Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace distinguishes itself from even those stellar entries – and not just because it still sits at 100% on our Tomatometer after 200 reviews. Director Jane Campion may have said it best in her impassioned plea for Leave No Trace: “A film filled with compassion… it has had a powerful impact on audiences. Not because it is loud, but because the truth that Granik speaks quietly can be heard even in a noisy world.”

Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (2018) 99% – Best Actress
Already Recognized by: Film Independent, Gotham Awards, DGA, BFCA, NYFCC

Eighth Grade (A24)

(Photo by © A24)

Cringeworthy Cinema: that’s how Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade and its star Elsie Fisher charmed their way into our hearts. Reliving the painfully awkward moments of adolescence with such unflinching honesty, Fisher gave the best performance of the year that we had to watch through fingers and stooping down in our seats. (OK, maybe tied with Collette – but for very different reasons.) Burnham’s script is the quintessential coming-of-age story for the YouTube generation and, as with Roma, his film lives or dies by its central performance. As Kayla, Fisher is relatable and endearing for tweens and their parents, finding a perfect blend of earnestness and mortification.

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (2017) 94% – Best Actor
Already Recognized by: Film Independent, Gotham Awards, NYFCC, BFCA, LAFCA, NSFC

(Photo by © A24)

Ethan Hawke often remarks that he doesn’t want to be known just for the Dead Poets Society. But after the over 30 years, 80 credits, four Oscar nominations, and countless more beloved performances, Hawke still hears “Oh Captain, My Captain” on the regular. His turn as the conflicted and apathetic Reverend Toller is miles away from any previous role he has done. Many are taking notice: With a near clean sweep of the critics associations, Hawke’s performance in First Reformed is second only to Regina King’s in Beale Street in regards to acclaim this season. Why isn’t he a lock for an Oscar nom? Hawke’s lack of movement outside of the critics groups’ awards does not bode well. We’ll be watching this one keenly.

Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tag Cloud

binge Syfy canceled GIFs The Walking Dead Captain marvel Funimation zero dark thirty Arrowverse Premiere Dates 21st Century Fox cinemax APB CBS Apple TV Plus television SundanceTV Amazon Prime Video casting breaking bad 71st Emmy Awards Wes Anderson Interview Avengers TIFF olympics 4/20 Marvel WGN Discovery Channel sports A24 sequels transformers HBO Max Stephen King crime thriller Adult Swim Character Guide dc Hulu french composers San Diego Comic-Con DGA renewed TV shows best dexter comiccon Musicals docudrama pirates of the caribbean Bravo cats christmas movies revenge toy story crime drama BBC NBA fast and furious Winter TV politics 007 basketball cars TruTV toronto monster movies Academy Awards worst talk show mutant Image Comics GLAAD Rom-Com streaming movies Paramount Plus PBS Fantasy trailers Creative Arts Emmys Mary Poppins Returns Amazon travel zombie PaleyFest rotten movies we love 20th Century Fox serial killer franchise twilight psychological thriller Shudder Apple indiana jones Awards OneApp remakes comics posters HBO Go game of thrones reboot Kids & Family nbcuniversal laika Valentine's Day ratings south america Brie Larson 2019 mockumentary Mindy Kaling Crunchyroll Disney Channel ViacomCBS Masterpiece blockbusters godzilla black Rocky prank IMDb TV Turner Classic Movies genre LGBT award winner 2017 marvel comics Red Carpet First Reviews YouTube Red DC Universe movie Certified Fresh TCA news Election Neflix Cartoon Network SXSW Musical FXX Television Critics Association Photos The Purge 99% king arthur 72 Emmy Awards TCA Winter 2020 spider-man boxoffice Sony Pictures romantic comedy Animation obituary know your critic Disney kaiju Nominations Music Binge Guide Reality YouTube NBC 1990s Legendary BET finale TV RT21 sitcom child's play ID Warner Bros. Cannes Tumblr free movies scene in color 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards LGBTQ 90s Podcast Year in Review kids debate Extras dark vs. Action E3 dreamworks golden globe awards Fox Searchlight ABC See It Skip It wonder woman TCA Awards Trailer Grammys Pixar hist History Mudbound venice Biopics italian Sci-Fi black comedy theme song Amazon Studios golden globes aapi Comic-Con@Home 2021 international medical drama DC Comics VH1 rom-coms American Society of Cinematographers Paramount psycho robots james bond mob Hallmark Christmas movies Comedy canceled TV shows heist movie Super Bowl HBO Food Network Pacific Islander 24 frames archives Rock IFC Films TNT USA Network legend unscripted Pop TV Spike stop motion scorecard Baby Yoda miniseries rotten richard e. Grant YouTube Premium halloween tv TCA 2017 Emmys telelvision die hard tv talk First Look Mary Tyler Moore AMC Drama deadpool slasher Holiday Exclusive Video stand-up comedy thriller Lifetime 93rd Oscars criterion National Geographic political drama spain ITV Calendar Pop comic book movie Pirates Travel Channel Country hidden camera BAFTA cancelled TV series marvel cinematic universe The Walt Disney Company Netflix Christmas movies Mary poppins supernatural space nature Infographic streaming razzies Marvel Television Amazon Prime target series dceu stoner aliens films adaptation Tokyo Olympics Disney streaming service Shondaland spanish language Tarantino Polls and Games comic USA slashers CNN witnail PlayStation classics strong female leads animated TV renewals FOX superman Acorn TV halloween sag awards spinoff disaster New York Comic Con TV One crime mcc biopic Thanksgiving Spectrum Originals Ovation live event historical drama Spring TV cancelled television lord of the rings Women's History Month period drama royal family Rocketman Best and Worst singing competition Black History Month Video Games Comedy Central Horror teaser Starz MSNBC Sundance TV TV Land nfl AMC Plus Lucasfilm ghosts game show action-comedy natural history Paramount Network cancelled TV shows batman worst movies comic book movies Tomatazos RT History independent BBC One Film Showtime Nickelodeon The CW australia saw ABC Family MTV fresh Epix BBC America children's TV SDCC gangster Pet Sematary book adaptation Ghostbusters Dark Horse Comics mission: impossible Emmy Nominations Crackle E! Endgame crossover Christmas documentaries Mystery TLC quibi GoT diversity El Rey 2021 Schedule adventure art house movies Summer 2020 Fall TV Disney Plus comedies Fargo japan concert FX on Hulu TCM foreign Box Office Winners X-Men Alien screen actors guild discovery kong war justice league Family cancelled cartoon Columbia Pictures Peacock President superhero CBS All Access critics hispanic heritage month hispanic green book blaxploitation Quiz what to watch all-time technology Sneak Peek biography werewolf The Academy Martial Arts Heroines science fiction Set visit jurassic park suspense jamie lee curtis Anna Paquin Black Mirror Tubi DirecTV Western Television Academy Lifetime Christmas movies festival IFC 2018 Sundance Now new star wars movies Cosplay cooking anime MCU Logo VICE docuseries OWN high school Nat Geo Turner ESPN 73rd Emmy Awards Esquire Freeform Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Marathons Holidays Ellie Kemper women Awards Tour joker Marvel Studios A&E spider-verse chucky rt labs critics edition latino YA Hear Us Out elevated horror emmy awards police drama Instagram Live zombies NYCC universal monsters Fox News TV movies Writers Guild of America spy thriller based on movie Netflix indie video Apple TV+ cults Universal Pictures CW Seed The Arrangement feel good japanese name the review hollywood Reality Competition Walt Disney Pictures Superheroe Comics on TV Teen 2015 Vudu Hallmark screenings king kong Film Festival versus facebook rt archives Trophy Talk Chernobyl new zealand CMT critic resources DC streaming service Broadway The Witch 2016 popular vampires spanish rt labs reviews new york cops dragons satire directors Star Wars Opinion romance video on demand BET Awards scary parents anthology Classic Film Superheroes Elton John doctor who comic books boxing Disney+ Disney Plus true crime Universal Countdown Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Oscars Pride Month asian-american Trivia festivals dramedy football ABC Signature blockbuster Comic Book TBS Sundance book scary movies young adult FX a nightmare on elm street 45 Star Trek social media sopranos live action sequel Toys Song of Ice and Fire harry potter adenture Lionsgate VOD WarnerMedia dogs Watching Series documentary Britbox