‘Empire of Light’: Michael Ward, Toby Jones for Supporting Actor Oscar

‘Empire of Light’: Michael Ward, Toby Jones for Supporting Actor Oscar

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A love story and tribute to cinema houses, Sam Mendes’s ‘Empire of Light’ is splitting critics after hitting the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this month. However, Searchlight Pictures remains confident in the award prospects.

“Empire” is one of the divisive films this season, including “Bardo” by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and “The Son” by Florian Zeller. However, one of the agreed-upon highlights of the film is the quality of the actors, most notably Oscar winner Olivia Colman, breakthrough star Micheal Ward and veteran actor Toby Jones.

With the categories being shaken by the news that Michelle Williams is campaigning for lead actress, rather than support, Ward’s campaign confirms its early strategy by drawing attention to supporting actors for this awards season, Variety has confirmed. As Stephen, a young ticket-taker who begins a love affair with Hilary (Colman), a middle-aged woman recovering from an episode of mental health, Ward holds his own against the three-time nominee and Oscar winner for “The Favorite” ( 2018).

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Ward now joins a long list of actors competing for one of five coveted acting slots this year, alongside co-stars from the same film. Some of these include Searchlight’s other Oscar hopeful, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” starring contenders Barry Keoghan and Brendan Gleeson (the latter’s campaign has yet to be announced).

Out of Telluride, it looked like longtime performer Jones, who plays the movie-loving movie operator Norman, would be “Empire”‘s top contender to grab the attention of Best Supporting Actor awards. His co-star Colin Firth, an Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech” (2010), doesn’t have much screen time.

Ward’s hurdles are considerable as we move through these very early days of the prize circuit, with big names like Judd Hirsch (“The Fabelmans”), Woody Harrelson (“Triangle of Sadness”) and Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once “) among the notable top candidates.

Ward may be unknown to many, but the Jamaican native has sparked public interest over the past two years with minor roles like Lykon in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Old Guard.” His main role came as Franklin in the beautiful “Lovers Rock,” one of five films from Steve McQueen’s Amazon Prime Video anthology series “Small Axe.”

Ultimately, Ward’s odds rest on how well “Empire of Light” will fare with the price pickers. Varieties According to Oscar predictions, the film will currently receive five nominations, for best picture (Pippa Harris and Mendes), actress (Colman), cinematography (Roger Deakins), costume design (Alexandra Byrne) and original score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), with Jones on the bubble in a supporting role. If Ward hopes to make a play, he’ll need the film’s score and buzz to grow along the way.

To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, go to Varieties Oscars Hub.

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