Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oscar Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 14th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories, saving some of the biggest categories for last.

Last year’s nominees: Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne

This year’s locks: Leonardo DiCaprio

Very likely: Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, Matt Damon, Bryan Cranston

Possible: Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Tom Hanks

Unlikely: Michael B. Jordan, Abraham Attah, Michael Caine

The rundown: I’m not feeling too good about two nominees that most are considering sure things, and here’s why. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) have both been nominated once in the past two years. They both starred in films from Oscar-winning directors (Danny Boyle made “Slumdog Millionaire” and Tom Hooper made “The King’s Speech”) that should have landed much bigger. I personally loved “Steve Jobs” and didn’t go nuts for the still-good “The Danish Girl.” Actors don’t necessarily need their films behind them, but these two have been traveling on the awards circuit without much support that would only bolster their chances and keep them from being left off the list. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) is sitting pretty for his first Oscar win after taking home the Golden Globe (his third) and benefiting from the fact that his movie opened latest and loudest. Though he got snubbed by SAG, Matt Damon (The Martian) has been nominated everywhere else and just won the Golden Globe, so I think he’s in. I’m surprised that Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) made it this far, getting nominated pretty much everywhere, and so it seems like he’s in, unless he ends up like Jake Gyllenhaal who got snubbed despite numerous precursor placements last year. Those five represent the BAFTA list, and BAFTA and Oscar have only matched up exactly twice in the past fifteen years. Johnny Depp (Black Mass) needed to have a stronger showing to still be in the game, though the popular actor might still make the cut, and Will Smith (Concussion) could benefit from positive buzz from his recent release. Michael Caine (Youth) could be a spoiler, but his film hasn’t shown up enough places, and Tom Hardy (Legend) probably won’t be nominated for the least talked-about of his three big films this year. The list of other contenders who will garner some votes are: Geza Rohrig (Son of Saul), Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies), Steve Carell (The Big Short), Christian Bale (The Big Short), though I can’t imagine he’ll end up here instead of supporting, and Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes). Watch out for two younger underdogs: Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation). I’m not sure we’re primed for a surprise here, but you never know.

One possible crazy scenario: Some critics put him here instead of supporting, but I know it would be startling if onetime sure thing and a nominee last year, Michael Keaton (Spotlight), ended up taking a spot here for a performance that could legitimately be argued as lead.

Forecasted winner: It’s finally time for DiCaprio to take home an Oscar.

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