This is such a great Oscar year! We have a REAL race in ALL categories! Periodically Lainey and I will text one another something along the lines of “this is so exciting!” because for once the Oscars are wide open across the board. The only category that feels close to a done deal is Best Actor because it does feel like everyone is going to just roll over for Leonardo DiCaprio and finally give him an Oscar for freezing his eyelids shut in the Yukon (I spoke to one Academy voter who told me Leo D has his vote because “I’m afraid if he doesn’t get it this time, next time he’ll be hooking his nuts up to a car battery”). But even that isn’t as solid as Leo wants it to be—Bryan Cranston is giving him some grief, and Michael Fassbender is still lurking despite basically sitting out his own campaign.

This is a year where there aren’t any sure things and a lot of dark horses, one of which is Sicario. I have mixed feelings about this movie—it’s one part amazing thriller, one part stuff you’ve seen before, and one part Emily Blunt playing the stupidest FBI agent alive—but it IS incredibly well made. Can’t argue the craft at all. And the craft guilds are noticing. Sicario has landed nominations from the American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Awards, and it just got a nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers this morning. It was also a somewhat surprise inclusion among the Producers Guild nominations—the most relevant guild to Academy interests.

Last night Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro were at the National Board of Review to support Sicario, who recognized it as a Top Film and also gave it a Spotlight Award for “outstanding collaborative vision”, which I take to mean “you guys made that mediocre script seem kind of special”. (Also worth noting that NBR gave Best Actor to Matt Damon, who is working behind the scenes for The Martian. I will DIE if he sh*ts in Leo D’s Cornflakes on Oscar night.) Blunt and Del Toro are long odds for acting nominations, so they’re really campaigning for the film more than themselves. But their effort could be rewarded with several surprise-ish Oscar nominations. We’ll find out next week.