I think it’s finally time to admit that Sony Classics, no offense, flubbed Lesley Manville‘s Oscar chances by putting her up for Best Actress. I’ve been arguing for weeks that the aching heart of Another Year should have been pushed as a Best Supporting Actress contender, but Sony Classics thought otherwise and now it looks like her goose may be cooked.
Another Year‘s Lesley Manville.
Manville won the National Board of Review’s Best Actress award, great, but she hasn’t even been nominated in that category by the Critics Choice, Golden Globes or SAG, which suggests she has a possible outside shot, at best, at an Oscar nomination. I’d love to be proved wrong, but I think it’s highly unlikely that she’ll make it. And if she does, there’s no way in hell she’ll win. But if she’d been put into Best Supporting Actress contention, she’d be a likely Oscar nominee since she would have probably made the cut with the Golden Globes and SAG and BFCA, and there’d be a reasonably good chance that she might actually win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. What a shame, what a sadness.
This morning I asked some journalist pals if they believe Manville has any kind of shot at a Best Actress Oscar nomination at this stage, and if they believe she might be in a better position if Sony Classics had taken my advice and put her into Supporting instead. Here’s what some said:
Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson: “Manville is clearly a leading actress, so I don’t think [putting her up as] supporting would have made any difference. In the case of [Another Year director/writer] Mike Leigh, the Academy actors take him seriously and check out his films. It’s amazing that he’s landed as many nominations as he has over the years, and for such unlikely candidates as Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies and Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake. Yeah, Sally Hawkins was overlooked but it was a crowded category, as it is this year. The question is, will the Academy voters watch the Another Year DVD? I think the Academy is a classier, tonier group that will also be more likely to watch Blue Valentine, btw.”
Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil: “Lesley Manville can uncork a bottle and get blotto with self pity because she ain’t getting nommed at the Oscars — that’s now clear. That lead race is just too packed with A List divas giving big grandstanding roles, pushing Manville out. But I don’t think the Globes would’ve fallen for a ploy of category fraud if Sony Pictures Classics had tried to place her role in supporting. The HFPA eligibility committee is getting tough these days. But at the SAG Awards, the actor decides which category they’re going into. If SPC had entered Manville into supporting, that might’ve worked. Yes, she might’ve gotten nommed and that, in turn, might’ve positioned her for Oscar recognition. That was her only hope. Turns out you were right, Jeff.”
Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet: “My faith in her getting an Oscar nomination has dwindled to the point she may be the last one in. So that would be a ‘no’ to the win. Yes, yes, yes — she should have been in supporting, which is what I wrote about in October. It’s a tragedy in Oscar terms, but at least most everyone I read still continues to talk about her and the performance every time she’s overlooked. So that’s, at the very least, a plus.”
TheWrap‘s Steve Pond: “It’s still possible that the Academy will fix this and nominate her, but are enough voters going to even watch the movie now? I doubt it. I think it really needed some awards and nominations to move it further up in those piles of screeners. Yes, Manville would have been better off in supporting. And unlike the case of The Kids Are All Right, where it would have betrayed the movie to campaign Bening for lead and Moore for supporting, Sony could have made a completely reasonable argument for Manville in supporting. I agree that they blew it here — but let’s face it, the voters are the ones who really blew it. And not just in Manville’s case.”
Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone: “Fox Searchlight is, quite simply, a better publicity machine than Sony Pictures Classics. I predicted [Conviction‘s] Hilary Swank shortly before the announcement because I figured that Searchlight would have stopped at nothing to make that happen. On top of which Swank is very popular in the SAG. And that voting body doesn’t do well with foreigners: Andrew Garfield, Jacki Weaver, Lesley Manville. Keep in mind that they have a huge membership. They randomly select a ‘nominating committee.’ But they do this in such a fashion that it can’t possibly account for taste. Any old person with a SAG card votes on these. Oscar is much more exclusive and selective. Therein usually lies the difference. But it does show how the acting categories this year are kind of all over the map.”
All I know for sure is that it’s an outrage that Hillary Swank got Best Actress nominated by SAG for Conviction, and not Manville. Congrats to Fox Searchlight for doing a slambang job in getting Swank nominated, but right is right and Manville, I feel, has been cheated out of a completely justified moment in the Oscar sun.
I asked Sony’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard if they wanted to say anything, but they passed. If I were them I would have said something along the lines of “we loved Lesley Manville’s performance so much that we just couldn’t think of it as anything other than a lead performance. It’s too strong, too penetrating. She’s the essence of that film. Whatever happens Oscar-wise, were enormously proud of her and the entire team behind Another Year.”