Commentary: Former Swimmer Could Celebrate Oscar Nomination(s) For New Film

PHOENIX, Arizona, January 15. THE Oscar nominations will be announced in about 10 hours in Los Angeles. Though many in the movie business say they don’t care about it, claim they don’t wake up for the 5:30 a.m. Pacific time announcement or simply don’t expect to be named, I know they all regard tomorrow’s event as one of the most exciting and terrifying five minutes of the year.

Though I have absolutely no connection to any of the films in the Oscar race this year, I am nervous with anticipation. Since 1992, I have been so excited for Nominations Morning that I lose sleep the night before. It’s like Christmas! I have made my predictions for the films that should receive Best Picture nominations, as well as the performers who should receive nominations in one of the four acting categories. I am never 100 percent correct, but that’s what makes it fun.

There is a swimming connection to one of the films likely to gain at least one nomination tomorrow. The film All Is Lost was written and directed by former swimmer J.C. Chandor, and it is one of the best films of the year. It tells the story of an older man (played by likely nominee Robert Redford) whose sailboat is severely damaged in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, many miles from any rescue. It’s mesmerizing and haunting. Redford’s character speaks in only three scenes, and in one of them, delivers the most gratifying F-bomb in movie history.

Twenty minutes into the film, I knew Redford was destined to get an Oscar nomination for what I think is his best performance in a great career. Yep, it’s better than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Way We Were or even Jeremiah Johnson.

But enough about Redford. Chandor does a brilliant job with keeping our suspense with minimal dialect. It’s a 360-degree turn from his last film, the verbose Margin Call. Chandor received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for that film, and I think he deserves it for All Is Lost, if only to prove that great screenplays don’t have to have dialogue.

Chandor grew up in New Jersey and attended Ridge High School. I’ve been told that Chandor was a swimmer in his younger years before making his way to Hollywood. I’ve reached out to his publicist to verify this, and to get an interview with Chandor, but I’ve received no reply. No matter. I have it on good authority that Chandor’s swimming background is true, which makes me root for All Is Lost even more.

I’m sure there are many more nominees whose names we will hear tomorrow that have extensive swimming backgrounds. Maybe they got a swimming scholarship to a university, qualified for the NCAA championships and scored a point or two for their team. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of the nominees grew up swimming on a local team when they were very young. Swimming is a sport that teaches dedication and the importance of hard work to reach a goal. JC Chandor would agree with that statement. So would Timothy Olyphant, the star of the TV show Justified, who was a USA Swimming national qualifier before studying to be an actor at the University of Southern California. And breaststroke legend Jeff Kostoff has worked as a TV producer on some great shows, including The Amazing Race. (I won’t count Steve Lundquist’s very, very brief foray into Hollywood.)

If you haven’t seen All Is Lost, you must see it before the Oscars are handed out in March. And while you’re at it, see 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Dallas Buyers Club. You can thank me later.

Before I go, here are my Oscar predictions in top categories:

Best Picture
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Supporting Actor
Bakhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle