Saving Mr. Banks telegraphs Emma Thompson’s date with Oscar. When her character, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, first meets Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), the mogul of magic walks past a wall of Oscar statuettes—golden idols nearly within Thompson’s grasp. And when Travers finally hits the premiere of the film she reluctantly greenlit, she’s decked out, as seen above, like she’s bound for the Academy’s red carpet (though, admittedly, it’s good this film takes place in the days before “Who are you wearing?” as it seems the answer could be “Bed Bath & Beyond”). In short, this is my way of saying that Thompson, a woman who’s flawlessly navigated the campaign circuit, is in. Could Meryl Streep’s Thompson tribute at the National Board of Review Awards, which some saw as underhandedly self-serving, have affected the Brit’s chances? I don’t think so. If anything, the last few days have galvanized my suspicion that August: Osage County’s Streep, the vulnerable hopeful alongside the category’s other predicted locks (Thompson, Gravity’s Sandra Bullock, Philomena’s Judi Dench, and Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett), is out.
It’s practically blasphemous to discount Streep as a nominee, let alone a threat to win, but I can’t recall a Streep performance that was met with less enthusiasm than her turn as druggie Violet Weston, whom Streep ensures is truly overdosing on histrionics. The passion for this role, and moreover, this film, simply isn’t in the air, and as many friends and colleagues have expressed to me, it may finally be time for viewers’ Streep fatigue to be reflected by Oscar voters. This would open the door for American Hustle’s lavishly deserving Amy Adams, an Academy darling who already took Streep’s slot in the BAFTA lineup, and who gives the performance of her career in David O. Russell’s tornado of a dramedy. Considering Blue Is the Warmest Color’s jaw-dropping Adèle Exarchopoulos starred in one of the year’s most talked-about films, one I refuse to believe many voters left unwatched in their screener piles (Richard Brody might say they’d have to be dead from the neck down), I’d guess there’s a glint of a hope for the French starlet. Still, that’s rather pipe-dreamy, and while we’d love to see Exarchopoulos join the likes of Blanchett, Shadow Dancer’s Andrea Riseborough, and Laurence Anyways’s Suzanne Clément, we’ll settle for Adams edging out her Doubt co-star.