Let's Not Call the Oscar Race Before It Starts

Some are already awarding Oprah Winfrey for "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine." THR's awards analyst urges caution.
Oprah Winfrey

The rush to be "FIRST!" about things has long been a goal of journalists of all sorts, and film journalists are certainly no exception, particularly in the age of the Internet. Reporters like to be the first to break a story (sometimes before they have properly confirmed their assertions), critics like to be the first to post a review (sometimes breaking embargoes in the process), and yes, awards bloggers like to be the first to declare an Oscar hopeful a "sure thing" for a nomination or, in some cases, even a win.

The problem is that declaring any Oscar hopeful a sure thing in July, when 95 percent of the films and performances that will eventually be in serious Oscar contention haven't even been screened yet by any press, is a little silly. But it happened twice just yesterday!

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Out in New York, Showbiz411's Roger Friedman caught an early screening of The Butler -- correction, Lee Daniels' The Butler -- and, breaking an embargo, assessed, "Oprah [Winfrey] gets a scene stealing Oscar moment that is going to take her right into every awards show. If I had to bet now, I’d say she wins Best Supporting Actress."

Meanwhile, back here in Los Angeles, IndieWire's Anne Thompson opined that, "The Best Actress Oscar is [Blue Jasmine star] Cate Blanchett's to lose," adding, "She will likely join the ranks of actresses who have won Oscars for juicy roles in Woody Allen movies."

And similar proclamations have already been made by others, verbally and/or in writing, about Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station's Michael B. Jordan, Inside Llewyn Davis's Oscar Isaac, Nebraska's Bruce Dern and the documentary Blackfish.

I'm not saying that the aforementioned contenders are not worthy of acclaim or excitement or speculation -- they are -- or that it's impossible that they will, in fact, eventually be honored with Oscars. They might be. But I think it's probably a tad premature for grand declarations about their Oscar futures. After all, we're not even through the summer yet!