Who's going to be this year's surprise Oscar nominee?

the-town-postelthwaiteWhen the Oscar nominations are announced on Tuesday morning, who will be this year’s Maggie Gyllenhaal? Last year, the Crazy Heart actress wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe. She wasn’t nominated for a Screen Actors Guild acting award either. But on the morning of Feb. 2, 2010, she learned that the Academy had recognized her performance with one of its five Best Supporting Actress slots. There’s typically a lot of overlap between the three award-giving entities, but Gyllenhaal’s nomination wasn’t unprecedented. Michael Shannon was ignored by the Globes and the SAGs for his work in Revolutionary Road in 2009 only to be richly rewarded by Oscar. Two years ago, Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah) and Laura Linney (The Savages) pulled off the surprise Oscar nod.

So if recent history holds, there’s more than a good chance that an actor or actress we weren’t necessarily expecting will crash the Oscar party. And what a delight it will be, as the advanced calculus of divining the Oscar nominations has eliminated some of the suspense in recent years. I’ll save you the trouble of checking who was already nominated by whom by listing Dave Karger’s top-ranked candidates who WEREN’T recognized by either the Globes or the Screen Actors Guild: Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Aaron Eckhart (Rabbit Hole), Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception or Shutter Island), Lesley Manville (Another Year), Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Sam Rockwell (Conviction), Matt Damon (True Grit), Pete Postlethwaite (The Town), Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), and Dianne Wiest (Rabbit Hole).

Odds are, one of them will get the call. I’m crossing my fingers for the late great Postlethwaite, and I also have a soft spot for DiCaprio’s performance in Shutter Island — for my money, one of the five best of the year. What actor or actress’ name would make you cheer to hear on Tuesday morning? And which of these longshots do you think is the most likely? Sound off below.

Read more:
Golden Globes: How did they affect the Oscar race?
More Oscars on EW

Comments (135 total) Add your comment
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  • anonymous

    I hope it’s Noomi Rapace.

    • Bluto

      Well if we told you fool, it wouldn’t be a surprise—now would it?

    • Liz Lemon

      I hope it’s her too or someone from Conviction.

    • Meier

      Possible Asperger’s? Check. Brutal rape scene? Check. Star-making performance? Check. If it all weren’t in a foreign language film, she’d be my best bet. This would be the only reason I’m banking on Julianne Moore for the surprise nod.

      • A-K87

        I couldn’t say it better myself, Meier.

      • Meier

        Thanks, A-K.
        One more thing that dawned on me: WHAT’S WITH ALL THE CAUCASIANS?? Was the best bet otherwise this year really only limited to Halle Berry in ‘Frankie & Alice’? How about Jackie Chan in ‘Karate Kid’, or Ken Watanabe in ‘Inception’?

      • Celimene

        While Ken Wantanabe was really good in “Inception”, he’ll have other chances in the future. He’s not going away anytime soon. Best Actress is pretty much a two horse race, so Rapace could squeak in there as an “It’s an Honor Just to Be Nominated” nod. Would love to see Postlewaithe or the almighty and powerful Sam Rockwell get in as well.

      • matt

        what about Kirsten Dunst from “All Good Things”?

      • Will G

        Matt, “All Good Things” is ineligible for Oscar nominations, since it was initially released on video-on-demand.

    • downtown diva

      I hope so, too esp. since by next Oscar season, the Hollywoodized version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will be out, starring Rooney Mara, and Rapace starred in the Swedish language adaptations of all three books in 2010. Michael Nyqvist (sic) as Mikael Blomkvist would also be a good surprise nom, but I think Rapace is more likely if only one of the two get nominations.

    • jon

      Do the Oscars recognize foreign film stars for leading awards? I guess Crouching Tiger was nominated for Best Picture, but it would be a small miracle of Naoomi Rapace was nominated.

      • Pogi

        Marion Cotillard won Best Actress two or three years ago for La Vie En Rose (sorry for spelling..?). It was stricly a French film.

    • Deb

      I’m with you on Noomi Rapace. She was perfect as Lisbeth. She inhabited that role.

  • Jessica


    • Christine

      If the Academy collectively has half a brain, they will give him his due.

    • Carrie #2

      Ditto! I don’t know why Inception hasn’t been getting acting nods for DiCaprio or Marion Cotillard.

      • Hmmm

        Inception was great, but he was much better (acting-wise) in Blood Diamond, The Departed, and Revolutionary Road, among others. And if they haven’t given him recognition for those, as much as I want him to get it this year, I don’t see it happening. That said, you’re right, it WOULD be a nice surprise.

      • A-K87

        I’m Leo’s biggest fan but his Inception isn’t award worthy. I’m hoping he will bring something home if all goes well in J Edgar. Leo had better shots with Blood Diamond and The Departed.

  • J

    Definitely Barbara Hershey. She really scared me in Black Swan. And at the beginning, I almost didn’t recognize her.

    • Chaz

      I would go with Hershey too. She’s been working for decades and she’s been nominated before with no wins so the older voters will definitely give her a nod.

    • Zo

      I would definitely rather have Hershey over Kunis. I liked Mila’s performance, don’t get me wrong, but it really wasn’t a stretch for her.

    • ChristineT

      I know! She was only on screen for a few minutes but the way she delievered “Take off your shirt…” was friggin terrifying. No wonder Nina was always on edge.

    • Sarah El

      She’s my pick too.

    • Kiki

      Yes! Definitely Barbara Hershey. Mila Kunis was fine, but Barbara acted her face off! I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that she gave a stunning performance.


    Marion Cotillard from INCEPTION was terrific. She and scary and graceful at the same time. WAY OVERLOOKED this year

    • DAVID


    • tvgirl48

      I completely agree! People kept moaning about Inception not having any female characters (or at least any who were awesome), but Marion Cotillard was brilliant as the haunting baddie/grief-stricken shadow of a troubled woman. She was scary, but sympathetic. It was an all-around captivating performance.

    • Niix Starkyller

      I’ll add my vote on this. But, unfortunately her style is invisible to those who need to see histrionics in acting. Would be a nice surprise.

  • Schobert

    I would love to see Marion Cotillard nominated by “Inception”, i think she was the best part of the movie!

  • AN

    Leo in Shutter Island. He was great in Inception, too. But Shutter Island STILL creeps me out!

  • Dude

    Don’t forget Mark Wahlberg getting nominated for The Departed when everyone thought it would be Jack Nicholson that got that supporting actor nod.

  • Bobby’s Robot

    I think Barbara Hershey has a shot; maybe Lesley Manville. Interesting to see what category Hailee Steinfeld lands in, if either.

  • Jennifer

    I think the female catergories are pretty tough this year, so I think they are pretty set. I think Javier Bardem or Matt Damon might squeek in.

  • gb

    gosh, i really hope it’s ryan gosling. but pete postlethwaite would be hella awesome.

  • MWeyer

    I think Hershey could squeeze in and Bardem for Actor.

  • jane

    Leo for Shutter Island without a doubt !!

  • AK

    I’m guessing Dianne Wiest gets the Supporting Actress for “The Rabbit Hole.” I don’t think it’s a very strong category this year and she’s well-respected by the Academy.

    • Carrie #2

      Disagree about it not being a strong category, both Fighter ladies were great, and I’m assuming either Mila Kunis gets a nod for Black Swan or Barbara Hershey does (haven’t seen it, don’t ask me to pick between them haha). Hailee Steinfeld is a lock if they don’t put her in lead actress. Anyway, I haven’t seen Rabbit Hole, but it seems like an already-crowded category to me.

  • Mia

    My guess is Michael Douglas for Wall Street II in the Supporting Actor category.

    • Buzz

      nah , I’d say Sam Rockwell is overdue a nod

      • A-K87

        ‘overdue’?? there isn’t a queue for oscar nominations.

    • Meier

      Yeah, sure, Douglas for playing Gekko again. Also credible: Ving Rhames for ‘Piranha 3-D’, Tom Selleck for ‘Killers’, and Bruce Willis for ‘Cop Out’. Fingers crossed for all of them.

  • Dave

    Barbara Hershey definitely has a shot. It seems like one of the supporting actresses from Black Swan will be nominated for sure. Whether it is Mila Kunis or Barbara Hershey is a toss up. Kunis got the Globe and the SAG, while Hershey got the BAFTA. I think it could go wither way.

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