This year’s Oscar dark horses

Picture this – you’re sitting at home a few months from now, staring at the Oscar telecast on your TV.

The glamourous atmosphere is emitting from the screen as you wait patiently for the announcement of the night’s big awards.

And then, last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner Penelope Cruz takes the stage to present the award for Best Supporting Actor.

You sit on the edge of your seat like every other avid movie fan out there and watch as she opens the envelope.

The moment has arrived as the words, “And the Oscar goes to…” struggle to escape her mouth.

And then, as you prepare to once again exhale your excitement, she announces “Zach Galifinakis for The Hangover!”Wait. What!?

Of course, that’s not what is going to happen.

If fans and critics alike have their say in the matter, a dark horse contender like Galifinakis would have a shot at the crown if the awards were held tomorrow.

The Oscars are very much like a game of football. Right now, we’d be entering the fourth quarter and the teams would be tied.

As far as the Academy Awards season is concerned, the end of November marks the period when all the campaigning begins to heat up.

Every film, performer and crew member is at the same level, all vying for a shot at the win.

In this final stretch before the awards shows start to open their curtains, the prestige really begins to pick up. The FYC (for your consideration) ads start popping up in the Hollywood press.

Prominent films from earlier in the year begin to make their rounds again.

But what remains the most fun aspect at this point in the season is all the dark horse contenders whose names begin to flourish around in the mix.

2009 has indeed had its fair share of potential nominees, but the rumour pot hasn’t really started to bubble until right about now.

Usually, this point in the year marks the time in which fans and critics alike get to campaign for their own personal favourite performances and films.

This way, before the big, unseen films like Nine and Invictus are released, the floor is pretty much open to speculation from everyone. Galifinakis is one example of an actor getting a push from his fans to be nominated.

If history has any say in the matter, a comedy like The Hangover wouldn’t have a shot.

Then again, they did notice Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder last year, right?

Then you have those like Jeff Bridges in the film Crazy Hearts who weren’t even on the radar before now.

Now that the film has been making its festival rounds and Fox Searchlight has picked it up, Bridges is being toted as this years’ Wrestler nominee.

Unconventional Oscar films like District 9 and Julie & Julia are trying to reaffirm their critical and financial success from the summer in order to gain a spot on the Academy’s list.

Veteran stars such as Sam Rockwell in Moon and, my personal favourite, Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side are being pushed for their first nominations each.

Bullock is an interesting one to look at, as her performance is being compared to that of Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, the one that finally gave Roberts the win.

Basically, it’s a very exciting time of the year for us awards hounds. You just can’t count anyone out of the race quite yet.

So start getting your campaign on, and you might actually see your own favourite film announced on national television come March 7 of next year.

As for me? Well, let The Brothers Bloom campaign begin.

Top 10 2010 dark horses

Melanie Laurent
Inglourious Basterds
(Best Supporting Actress)


Robert De Niro
Everybody’s Fine
(Best Actor)


Jody Hill
Observe and Report
(Best Original Screenplay)


Sharlto Copley
District 9
(Best Actor)


(500) Days of Summer
(Best Picture)


Nora Ephron
Julie & Julia
(Best Adapted Screenplay)


Rachel Weisz
The Brothers Bloom
(Best Actress)


James Cameron
Avatar
(Best Director)


Star Trek (Best Picture)


Jackie Earl Haley
Watchmen
(Best Supporting Actor)

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