LIKE IT OR NOT, IT WILL BE BULLOCK FOR BEST ACTRESS

23 Feb

THE BLIND SIDE

Not even Warner Brothers, the studio that distributed “The Blind Side,” expected awards attention for “The Blind Side” or star Sandra Bullock until late in 2009. Now, both the film and the actress are Academy Award nominees, with Bullock widely regarded as the favorite to win the best actress Oscar since she’s already won the Golden Globe for best actress (drama) and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best actress.

As if the prospects didn’t already look bleak enough for Bullock’s competition — Helen Mirren (“The Last Station”), Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), Gabby Sidibe (“Precious”), and above all Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”) — I’ve just dug up a few new statistics that seem to indicate that she holds an even greater advantages over her competition than we had previously realized.

  • 51 of the 82 best actress winners (there was 1 tie) in Oscar history won for a performance in a film that was nominated for best picture. This bodes well for Bullock, as well as for Mulligan and Sidibe, but not for Mirren and Streep.
  • Only 11 of the 82 best actress winners (there was 1 tie) in Oscar history were the sole nominee from their film. This bodes well for Bullock, as well as for Mirren, Mulligan, and Sidibe, but not for Streep.
  • Since the first SAG Awards in 1994, only 4 women have won the Golden Globe for best actress (either drama or comedy/musical) but not the SAG Award for best actress and still gone on to win the best actress Oscar. This bodes well for Bullock, but not for Streep.
  • Since the first SAG Awards in 1994, no woman has ever lost both the Golden Globe for best actress (either drama or comedy/musical) and the SAG Award for best actress and still gone on to win the best actress Oscar. This bodes well for Bullock, as well as for Streep, but not for Mirren, Mulligan, or Sidibe.

And that’s before you consider that Streep has already won two Oscars and garnered 16 Oscar nominations; Mirren won an Oscar only 3 years ago; and Mulligan and Sidibe are nominated for their first starring roles; whereas this is the first nomination of Bullock’s long career as a leading lady.

One can never say never when it comes to Streep, in particular, but it appears that even someone with as much stature as she is going to face an tremendous uphill climb in terms of beating Bullock.

Photo: Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side.” Credit: Warner Brothers.

15 Responses

  1. Robert Hamer 23. Feb, 2010 3:51 am #

    There’s still a part of me that thinks Bullock will lose this one, *if* (and I begrudgingly admit it’s a big *if*) enough people actually watch The Blind Side. I believe wholeheartedly that were it not for that idiot Michael Medved’s hyperbolic review, Sandra Bullock, bless her, would not have even been in the awards conversation. Many members are voting for her because she’s likable and popular (or as one member was overheard saying, “She’s had such a long career, and she’s always been good, as opposed to someone who just lucked into it like Precious.”), but anyone who sees the film can plainly see, she doesn’t deserve it. If enough members actually watch the film they so thoughtlessly nominated for Best Picture, then Streep could pull off an upset.

  2. Ross 23. Feb, 2010 4:24 am #

    1996: Nobody ever won the Golden Globe, the SAG Award (and of course, was a legend from Hollywood’s Golden Age) and lost the Oscar. But hey, Lauren Bacall did lost the Oscar that year.

    1998: No movie that won the PGA, DGA, Golden Globe, NYFCC and LAFCA lost the Oscar for best picture. But hey, Saving Private Ryan did.

    1999: An unknown actress can’t defeat Hollywood royalty (on her second nomination) in the best picture winner / and actually the SAG winner – an award, voted by her peers. Well, Swank won. Bening lost.

    2000: No actor has ever won an Oscar without being at least nominated for a SAG Award. But hey, Marcia Gay Harden did.

    2000: A film that wins the Oscars for best directing, best supporting actor, best adapted screenplay and best film editing is undoubtly a best picture victor. Not true. Traffic lost!

    2001: No actor has ever won the Golden Globe, the SAG Award, the BAFTA Award and the BFCA Award and lost the Oscar. But hey, Russell Crowe did.

    2002: No actor won the SAG, the BAFTA, the BFCA, the NYFCC and the LAFCA and lost the Oscar. But hey, Daniel Day-Lewis did. And he lost to a relatively unknown actor with only one major precursor to his name.

    2002: And of course, my favorite. No director has won an Oscar without either one of these: being a DGA winner OR being a Globe nominee. Roman Polanski lost the DGA and wasn’t a Golden Globe nominee, but hey, he won.

    2005: A film that wins the Golden Globe, the DGA, the PGA, the WGA, the BAFTA, the NYFCC, the LAFCA, the BFCA and leads with the most nominations can’t lose best picture. But Brokeback Mountain unfortunately did.

    2005: The last time a film won best picture without being a top Globe nominee was in 1973. So it didn’t bode well for Crash.

    And another one here. No film that wasn’t a Golden Globe nominee and failed to win the DGA ever won best picture. Well, Crash did.

    2006: It’s highly unlikely for a film that wasn’t even an ASC nominee to win the cinematography Oscar. The last time it happened was in the 80′s. But Pan’s Labyrinth won.

    2006: NO documentary won an Oscar outside of its category. But hey, a documentary won original song.
    2007: NO actor who wins the Golden Globe, the SAG Award, the BAFTA, the NYFCC, the NSFC, the BFCA, the NBR and is a legend, who also gets a standing ovation at the SAG Awards and is up against an unknown French actress can lose the Oscar. Julie Christie did.

    I expect from pundits to cover more the mood in the town and right now if you ask me, Meryl Streep has so much momentum going into the last week of voting. There are articles and there is the sentiment and the Bullock hype seems to be fading. I’d say Streep will take it.

  3. Editor 23. Feb, 2010 4:33 am #

    Ross, Terrific and sobering post. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    I hear what you’re saying, and — for what it’s worth — I’d actually personally vote for Streep, Mulligan, or Sidibe over Bullock. But predicting a win for one of them over her? I’d feel a lot better about Streep’s chances if her film had gotten a best pic nod and Bullock’s hadn’t. I know, I know, maybe Amy Adams’ performance turned people off from JULIE & JULIA, so that might explain that. But THE BLIND SIDE isn’t exactly high-art either, and it had enough passionate backers to make the final 10 under a preferential voting system. That’s very hard to ignore.

    To tell you the truth, if I were to call an upset I think I’d go not for Streep but for Mulligan: young sexy new thing… star of a best picture/best screenplay nominee… BAFTA winner. Not bad credentials at all.

  4. siok 23. Feb, 2010 6:41 am #

    Scott,
    I do admire your meticulous approach to Oscar predictions. From what I have observed, you do have moments of great insight and you can sometimes read the shifts in the race better than most other pundits.

    I have been dismayed, however, as within a couple of days, you have made loud proclamations of certainty about the Best Picture and the Best Actress race, echoing basically what every other pundit is saying.

    I would like to refer you to a great article by Peter Bart (himself an Academy voter) in Variety: “Oscar Jockeying Gets Rough.”
    http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/4250/variety0222.jpg

    Commenting on Oscar predictiona, he has this to say: “All I know is each year, the Oscar voting becomes more interesting than I thought it would be. And that no one is smart enough to predict the outcome.”

    Statistics are well and good but they signify the past better than they can predict the future. As Bart suggests, Oscar predictions are not a science, but rather an art.

    Pray, show us the art of it all, just as you have done in the past.

  5. Ross 23. Feb, 2010 7:25 am #

    Yes, but how many actresses won the LEAD ACTRESS Oscar with
    only the BAFTA?

    I think that Carey has a lot going against her:
    1. Too young – she’s 24.
    2. It’s her first major motion picture in a starring role.
    3. The film is a best picture nominee, but it’s a filler.
    4. No major wins in the USA – no Globe, no SAG, no BFCA.
    5. EVEN THE MAJOR CRITICS THAT WERE EXPECTED TO VOTE FOR
    HER SNUBBED HER. The NYFCC gave their award to Meryl and
    it’s a huge boost, let’s face it! It’s a prestige award!
    Meryl came in second with NSFC voters. Carey only has the
    LAFCA runner-up. Even critics know that she hasn’t paid her
    dues yet.
    6. ABOVE ALL: THE BLACKLASH.
    The buzz started too eary and peaked too early. And there
    are so many voters, who actually read about the film and
    Carey’s performance for months. Because that buzz was
    everywhere over the summer.
    And once they saw the film, many of them thought: And this
    is the performance people are talking about? And they are
    comparing her to Audrey Hepburn? (I’m pretty sure you spoke
    to many voters, who had that observation. I read so many
    artices about it. I know that many people in the industry
    feel that way about the performance.)

    * On the unknown thing: two times in the last 10 years
    unknown actresses won the Oscar – the first was Hilary
    Swank. The second was Marion Cotillard. But both had
    critics’ love and above all, both were clearly performances
    that were really made to win Oscars. Performances that
    dominated the talk the whole season. They had real buzz.
    Carey’s performance just doesn’t.

    On the other hand, I believe that Meryl could benefit
    from not being the front-runner in the last few weeks.
    Because she’s a huge critics’ darling, having won many
    minor critics’ groups (as did Carey), but the NYFCC win
    as well. And Meryl has the BFCA and of course the Golden
    Globe! And it’s her 16th nod. And she was very close last
    year. And in 2006 (many believe she should have won that
    year). And she’s a b.o. star. And there is the sentiment.
    As there is the sentiment for Julia Child. And I believe
    that in the end it will help Meryl. She hasn’t been the
    favorite, so they could feel really sentimental. And
    Sandra Bullock is campaigning too hard, which always
    puts off voters.

    I believe that Meryl will win the Oscar. And she deserves
    it.

  6. Merylfan 23. Feb, 2010 2:00 pm #

    @Ross; your post is the most convincing piece of writing I have seen in these blogs; great work!!!kudos..
    I loved Sandra’s performance, but having said that her performance is the weakest o those 5. If performance truly values, it is Meryl’s year. And she rightfully deserves it. She has been waiting for almost 30 years for it, and some mediocre performance who just happened to be likeable and brought big bucks doesn’t mean a win. If the AMPAS truly is an unbiased voting system, this will go to Meryl. Even if she doesn’t win, I want a deserving actress to win, either Carey, or Gabby. I am happy for Sandra’s nomination, but that should be her reward, not an actual win.

  7. vip 23. Feb, 2010 2:08 pm #

    @Ross great insights!
    But, Cotillard also won Globes (Musical) and she won BAFTA.

  8. Danny King 24. Feb, 2010 6:43 pm #

    Agree with so much here. Great statistics.

    I actually did a really similar article a couple weeks ago where I speculated why Bullock was going to win the Oscar. My conclusion, which seems in line with yours, was that Bullock will wi nby process of elimination. I cited similar things as well, such as the newcomer status of both Sidibe and Mulligan, the lack of passion/buzz for Mirren and her film, and the previous siccess of Streep, as well as the lack of passion/buzz for Julie & Julia.

    http://thekingbulletin.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-is-sandra-bullock-oscar-frontrunner.html

  9. Sam 24. Feb, 2010 7:35 pm #

    Scott is right.
    Like it or not,60% from AMPAS is for Bullock. So get ready.

  10. Oscarmania 25. Feb, 2010 1:46 am #

    I think it’s also worth mentioning that Bullock being in a Best Picture nominee is a bit of an
    anomalous situation, since this is the first year in decades that the category has been
    stretched to 10. Had this been last year, Streep and Sandra would be in the same boat
    (i.e. sole nominees for their films).

    Ultimately, Sandra is the frontrunner, no question. But a lot of talk about Bullock, even from
    people who generally like her, has been footnoted by comments that she really doesn’t deserve
    to win for that performance. That is something Academy voters might keep in mind.

  11. Editor 25. Feb, 2010 1:49 am #

    @Oscarmania: Regarding your comment, “Had this been last year, Streep and Sandra would be in the same boat
    (i.e. sole nominees for their films)”…
    I’m not arguing that Bullock will win because she’s in a best picture nominated film and Streep is not… what I am saying is that we know from that outcome, which was determined by a preferential ballot, that voters feel more passionate about Bullock’s film than about Streep’s. Since both are in virtually every scene of their respective films, I think we can’t/shouldn’t ignore that fact.

  12. ruby 25. Feb, 2010 12:30 pm #

    Meryl Streep deserves this award. Performance wise, sentiment wise, she should get it. Sandra was..oook in Blind Side. Certainly not worthy of an actual win. Maybe next time for her. But this just has to be Meryl’s year.

  13. Michael 25. Feb, 2010 5:13 pm #

    I feel Sandra will win and I admire the effort put into this commentary. Meryl Streep is a fine actress, perhaps our best, but this alone does not mean she needs to win for “J&J.” This was not her finest work, and she will no doubt win for a better performance in the future.
    People are talking about all of her former nominations, but Katherine Hepburn was 74 when she won her third Oscar. Meryl is still 61, and she works far more than Katherine Hepburn did at 61. We have had so many Oscar recipients who were truly unworthy of the award. Sandra Bullock is not one of those people. I hope she wins Oscar this year. Her speech alone will be worth hearing.

  14. Ross 27. Feb, 2010 10:27 am #

    @ Michael,

    MERYL STREEP DOESN’T HAVE TO COMPETE WITH HER OWN
    PERFORMANCES. She doesn’t compete with Sophie’s Choice,
    she doesn’t compete with A Cry in the Dark. She doesn’t
    compete with Ironweed. She doesn’t compete with Out of
    Africa. She doesn’t compete with Adaptation. (Needless
    to say, she won only for ONE of these performances.)

    MERYL STREEP deserves to win, because her performance is
    miles ahead of Bullock’s. Sentiment is a different thing.

    Yes, Meryl is 61. Hepburn won her third at the age of 74.
    But unlike then, now Hollywood isn’t really that much in
    awe of its legends.

    And just an observation (a sad one and not mine, I read it
    somewhere, but I agree): IT’S SAD THAT PEOPLE THINK MERYL
    SHOULDN’T WIN BECAUSE HER PERFORMANCE IS NO SOPHIE’S CHOICE
    AND THAT SANDRA SHOULD WIN BECAUSE HER PERFORANCE ISN’T
    AS BAD AS USUALLY.

    I’m just tired of the NEXT YEAR thing. It’s always next
    year. Last year everyone assumed that Meryl would win the
    next time. And so on… It’s sad. It’s not her loss.
    It’s the Academy’s loss. It’s your loss.

    The awards are for performances. Not for likability!

  15. ruby 27. Feb, 2010 2:31 pm #

    @Michael. Do you expect each and every actor to best his/her own peroformance each and every time? Many people say Meryl’s best role is in Sophie’s Choice. So you basically mean that since her portrayal of Julia was not to the par of Sophie, so she does not deserve it. That is just plain wrong. Also, Katherine Hepburn got her 2nd when she was around 60, the same age as Meryl, and a consecutive win the next year…
    And Meryl’s speeches too are something that everyone looks forward to..

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