Arts·My Favourite Season

Let's make these 5 acting Oscar nominations happen

The Gotham Award nominations included Rachel McAdams, Charles Melton and Andrew Scott. Other awards bodies should follow suit.

The Gotham Awards nominated Rachel McAdams and Glenn Howerton. Other awards bodies should follow suit

From left: Glenn Howerton in Blackberry, Rachel McAdams in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Teyana Taylor in A Thousand and One.
From left: Glenn Howerton in Blackberry, Rachel McAdams in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Teyana Taylor in A Thousand and One. (Courtesy)

My Favourite Season is a monthly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that runs through the six-month "season" that is both his favourite and Moira Rose's. It explores all things awards in the lead-up to the big one: the Oscars, which are currently scheduled to take place on March 10, 2024.

Awards season is officially in full swing, with the 33rd Annual Gotham Awards announcing its nominations earlier this week. Led by Andrew Haigh's All of Us Strangers (with four nods), Celine Song's Past Lives, A.V. Rockwell's A Thousand and One and Jonathan Glazer's The Zone of Interest (all with three), the Gothams — which will be handed out in New York at the end of November — essentially kicked off a nonstop circuit of announcements and ceremonies that lead up to the Oscars in early March. And the nominations may offer some clues as to who will go all the way this season ... or not.

The Gotham Award nominees are decided by category committees of just five people (mostly film critics and festival programmers). That makes theGothams unusual compared to, say, the Oscars, which are voted on by some 10,000 plus members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Despite their differences, however, there is often a substantial amount of crossover when nomination time comes around. 

Of last year's 20 nominees for lead and supporting acting, eight went on to receive Oscar nominations (and three  — Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan — won Oscar gold). This of course begs the question: which of this year's nominees will meet the same fate? And moreover: which ones should we be rallying around?

It should be noted that historically the Gothams have recognized films with budgets of $35 million US or less. This year that cap was removed, which allowed the likes of Ryan Gosling to be (very deservedly) nominated for Barbie, a movie with a budget of  $125 million plus. Multiple big budget films with huge Oscar potential (Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon, The Color Purple) decided not to submit despite the rule change. That means a lot of presumed nominees were not eligible, although Lily Gladstone, who's basically assured an Oscar nomination for Flower Moon, was recognized by the Gothams for a different film: the powerful indie road trip drama The Unknown Country.

Of the 20 performances that were nominated, there are quite a few that most people (including myself) have tipped for Oscar recognition: Greta Lee (Past Lives), Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla), Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction), Da'Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers), Penélope Cruz (Ferrari) and the aforementioned Gosling. These are all incredibly worthy performances that l wish well all season, but I don't think they need me to advocate for them. At least, they don't need the attention as much as the five other performances that were also nominated for a Gotham. I am a huge fan of them all, though Oscar glory still seems like a longshot. Hopefully that starts to change. For your consideration: 

Glenn Howerton for Blackberry

It's admittedly a pretty rare thing for an American actor to get an Oscar nomination for a performance in a Canadian film, but it does happen. Ask Brie Larson, who actually won an Oscar (and a Canadian Screen Award, for that matter) for the 2015 film Room. Few people were even aware that Room was Canadian (and admittedly it was only a quarter Canadian; the film was a co-production of Canada, Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S. ). Blackberry, however, is very explicitly a film about Canadians that is set in Canada and was 100 per cent produced by Canadian companies. It's also a film that features an astounding performance by Glenn Howerton as Blackberry investor (and obsessive hockey fan) Jim Balsillie. Howerton — a Juilliard-trained American actor best known for creating and acting in the longest running live-action sitcom of all time (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) — might be a lock for a Canadian Screen Award, but he deserves some Oscar attention too. 

Charles Melton for May December

I would be surprised if Todd Haynes's profoundly unnerving May December doesn't end up being my favourite film of 2023. That is in large part due to Haynes's remarkably self-assured direction and the career-high performances of Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore. But it's also because of an actor I had admittedly never heard of before this film: Charles Melton. 

Melton, like Howerton, is mostly known for his TV work (in this case, Riverdale). In May December he masterfully inhabits a 30-something man who has been romantically and sexually involved with his 50-something wife (Moore) since he was only 13 years old. Melton more than holds his own opposite his Oscar-winning co-stars, and in a perfect world all three of them will be Oscar nominees come next year.

Rachel McAdams for Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

For those who swooned over Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling's early 2000s on-and-offscreen romance, seeing both actors in the supporting performance category wasthe most fun thing about this year's Gotham nominations. The Gothams rightfully removed gender from their acting categories two years ago, and this is just further proof that everybody wins when that happens). While Gosling's nom came as no surprise, McAdams's was a very pleasant one. In the Judy Blume adaptation Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, she plays the titular character's mother. It's deeply heartfelt work, and the performance is arguably the best of her career. While the film was unfortunately not even a tiny fraction of the hit that Barbie was, hopefully this recognition helps McAdams (and the fantastic film) build a little Oscar heat. 

Andrew Scott for All of Us Strangers

He was the ridiculously charming "hot priest" in the second season of Fleabag. And if that performance impressed you just wait until you see what Andrew Scott does in All of Us Strangers. While the film won't arrive in theatres until late December, it is making the rounds at film festivals. (I was lucky enough to catch it at the New York Film Festival earlier this month.) So far, audiences have been emotionally decimated by its meditation on loss and isolation. It also appears to have won over Gotham voters, who gave it more nominations than any other film. This certainly gives it a huge boost this awards season, though it still feels like an uphill battle for Scott. His quietly devastating performance will compete in a best actor category dominated by louder heavy-hitters such asLeonardo DiCaprio (Killers of the Flower Moon) and Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer). 

Teyana Taylor for A Thousand and One

After getting her start as a dancer, choreographing Beyoncé's 2006 video for "Ring The Alarm" when she was just 15 years old, Teyana Taylor has built a remarkably eclectic career. She's proven herself as a choreographer, singer, model, music video director and now, most certainly, actress. 

In A.V. Rockwell's A Thousand and One Taylor plays a single mother who decides to kidnap her son out of the foster care system. The performance isnothing short of a revelation. But while the film was a big award winner at the Sundance Film Festival in January, its March release in cinemas came and went without the fanfare that the movie — and Taylor — deserved. Hopefully its three Gotham nominations (the second most of any film) will ensure further award season consideration, particularly when it comes to Taylor's heart-wrenching performance.

Check back monthly for all of our predictions for this year's Academy Awards, which have now been updated to include the animated, international and documentary feature categories.


Peter Knegt (he/him) is a writer, producer and host for CBC Arts. He writes the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and hosts and produces the talk series Here & Queer. He's also spearheaded the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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