The Long-Shot Nominees

"Until a few weeks ago, I had no hope of being elected. Now, however, I have something more than a hope. And Boss Jim Gettys has something less than a chance." So said Charles Foster Kane before his ill-fated run for public office in Citizen Kane.

If you're an awards junkie, then you already know the likely Oscar nominees. This year may be the most wide open in memory, but certain things seem, well ... certain. 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, Blanchett and Bullock, Ejiofor and Dern. There are bound to be a few mild surprises, but the publicity machines are primed and no one's likely to sneak in and mess with them. But just to be contrary, I thought I'd nominate people and films who, like Boss Jim Gettys, have something less than a chance. These are the films and performances of 2013 that should be considered, but won't be.


(Disclaimer: Asghar Farhadi's The Past should be the Best Picture of the Year. I say this not having seen The Past, basing it solely on Farhadi's 2011 film A Separation, the best movie made to date in the 21st century. But, not having seen it, I'll leave it out for now).

Don Jon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's rom-com is stylish, insightful and a lot of fun. It's a screwball comedy for the new millennium.

Frances Ha
: Noah Baumbach's rom-com is stylish, insightful and a lot of fun... Wait, that sounds familiar. I have seen too many derivative movies.

Fruitvale Station
: Another disclaimer: More than anything else on this list, this actually could get nominated, but that's only because of the vague increase in possible Best Pic noms begun several years back. (I believe the number now sits between five and infinity). This is not a rom-com. It is a devastating portrait of waste in modern America.

In a World...: Lake Bell's rom-com is stylish, insightful... you know the rest.

Mud: More accessible than his previous film, Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols' coming-of-age drama is this year's Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Best Actor

Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice: The drama, built around the snipers who terrorized Washington DC in 2002, is a bit unfocused, but Washington, as the charming psychopath behind it all, is totally focused, complex and stunning.

Tye Sheridan in Mud: You don't make a movie this good about teenagers without having a pretty awesome teenager at its center. I'm thankful Sheridan was not forever traumatized (or just confused) by being in Tree of Life.

Domhnall Gleeson in About Time: Of course, given the Academy's long-standing bias against actors named Domhnall, he has no chance. But what Richard Curtis did for Hugh Grant, he may be doing now for this young Irish actor.

Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty; My mother used to try and explain to me why Marcello Mastroianni wowed all the ladies. I never quite got it. But I get Servillo, who is equally world-weary, and perhaps a bit wittier than Marcello in this homage to Fellini and Antonioni.

Steve Coogan in Philomena: Judi Dench is justifiably getting a lot of attention for her marvelous performance, but Coogan, who is right there with her every step of the way, is being largely overlooked.

Best Actress

Sophie Nelisse in The Book Thief: It's been a great year for young actors. 13 year old Nelisse, who carries The Book Thief, could go to the awards on the arm of Tye Sheridan.

Olivia Wilde in Drinking Buddies: She'll get more acclaim for her five minutes in Her, but Wilde's character Kate, may be the most realistic (and interesting) young woman put on screen this year.

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha: There's a slight chance she'll actually get nominated, but I'm assuming she'll lose out to bigger names. Frances is the second most realistic -- but most delightful -- young woman put on screen this year.

Lake Bell in In a World...: She wrote it, directed in it, starred in it. You know, if she were a guy, she'd be getting talked about as the new Woody Allen.

Brie Larson in Short Term 12: Short Term 12, Don Jon, and The Spectacular Now; Quite a year. The former co-star of United States of Tara may make us forget all about Jessica Chastain (not that we want to).

Supporting Actor

(I only picked three in these next two categories because it's harder to rule out people from getting actual noms).

Casey Affleck in Out of the Furnace: Director Scott Cooper gave Affleck a lot of the movie and was rewarded for it.

Paul Dano in Prisoners and 12 Years a Slave: I waxed poetic about Dano previously. Suffice to say that Michael Fassbender will get a well-deserved nom for playing a villain in 12 Years. Dano, in a much smaller role, is scarier.

Ed Westwick in Romeo and Juliet: The misdirected movie is pretty darn bad. Westwick's Tybalt is pretty darn excellent. Not to rewrite the bard or anything, but he dies too early.

Supporting Actress

Lili Taylor in The Conjuring: Plenty of actresses have screamed and been brutalized in horror films, but when it's the awesome Lili Taylor doing the screaming, you've really got something.

Loreto Peralta in Instructions Not Included: Our third and final child actor, Peralta is by far the youngest, but her performance as the spunky Maggie gives this engaging comedy its life.

Juno Temple in Afternoon Delight: Another mediocre movie about yuppie angst, but Temple's version of a heart-of-gold hooker gives you something to watch for a while. We'll see if she can get an actual nom next year in the Far From the Madding Crowd remix.

There you have it. A list of also-rans. But then again, if you remember Citizen Kane, Boss Jim Gettys, with less than a chance, actually ended up winning. So if Emma Thompson or Matthew McConaughey gets caught watching Duck Dynasty on the eve of the noms, maybe one of these long shots can sneak in.