Friday, February 8, 2019

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role

The competition: Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), Christian Bale (Vice), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

Previous winners: Gary Oldman, Casey Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Eddie Redmayne, Matthew McConaughey, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jean Dujardin
My winner: Announcing shortly after the Oscars!
The facts: Though he missed out on a Best Director bid, Cooper, who has three previous acting nominations, also contends for producing and writing his film. Bale won on his first of three prior bids for “The Fighter” in 2010, and in this is his second time contending for an Adam McKay film after “The Big Short” in 2015. The two of them were both nominees for “American Hustle” in 2013. Dafoe was nominated last year for “The Florida Project,” marking his second consecutive go as the sole representative from his film. He was previously nominated was back in 2000 and 1986. Mortensen was nominated twice before, for “Captain Fantastic” in 2016 and “Eastern Promises” in 2007. This is Malek’s first nomination. The last time the star of a film not nominated for Best Picture won this prize was Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart” in 2009, which applies only to Dafoe this year. After they both won Golden Globes, Bale took home the Critics’ Choice Award and Malek won the SAG. In the two times that the split has happened the same way among the three groups, the SAG victor prevailed.

Who should win: I was rooting for Dafoe much more last year than this time around, as his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh was indeed one of the strongest elements of his film but doesn’t compare to his performance as a hotel manager in my favorite film from 2017. I also get that Bale’s imitation is impressive, but both the role and the movie are so interlinked that I’d be frustrated with him winning. Cooper getting an accolade for his directorial debut wouldn’t upset me since it was one of his better performances. Mortensen was great in his film, and I’d be perfectly happy if he won. It’s hard to argue with Malek’s turn though, and I’d be very pleased to see the surprise Emmy winner for “Mr. Robot” from a few years ago earn an Oscar.
Who will win: Count out Mortensen and Dafoe. It’s possible that Cooper could upset given that the last director-star this happened to, Ben Affleck, didn’t have the benefit of a Best Actor bid where voters could reward him. Bale has a strong shot given his film’s performance in major categories, but Malek feels far enough ahead given the season-long embrace of his film.

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