Monday, January 6, 2020

Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Monday, January 13th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.

Last year’s nominees: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, Rami Malek, Viggo Mortensen

This year’s locks: Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver

Very likely: Leonardo DiCaprio

Possible: Antonio Banderas, Taron Egerton, Christian Bale, Adam Sandler, Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy

Unlikely: George MacKay, Paul Walter Hauser

The rundown: This year marks the most interesting this category has been in a long time. It’s a shame because there are so many deserving performances, and they’re definitely not all going to make the cut. I’m conflicted about who to predict here, and actually made some last-minute adjustments after the Golden Globes last night. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story) feel like the only sure things at this point. Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) has performed solidly and consistently throughout this entire awards season, and so a snub would be pretty surprising, though it’s still possible. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari) managed Golden Globe and SAG bids without greater support for his film, but missed out on a slot in the seven-wide Critics Choice lineup, where his film did make it in as a nominee in the top category. Being a nominee last year will probably help him, but it’s hard to know whether he can reach the finish line here. Both Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) were cited by the Globes, where their films also did well, but then ignored by SAG. These feel like the performances that could finally earn these actors their first Oscar nominations, but it’s not looking that likely anymore, especially for Pryce, who missed with the Critics Choice Awards despite there being space for his costar Anthony Hopkins. Robert De Niro (The Irishman) missed out with both Globe and SAG, with supporting actors Al Pacino and Joe Pesci showing up in both places, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be swept along with his film. Taron Egerton (Rocketman) merited Globe and SAG nominations, and could benefit from Rami Malek winning last year for another portrait of a popular musician. His Globe win last night made me swap him in here since he really does seem to be very popular. I wish that Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) seemed likelier, and I hope that I’m wrong about his chances, but I don’t think that Globe and Critics Choice bids show enough support for him. There hasn’t been enough awards conversation around the late-breaking George MacKay (1917) for him to factor in, though it’s always possible, and, no matter how much he deserves it, Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) is unlikely to overcome negative press about certain elements of his film. I was originally predicting Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) for the fifth slot, but now I think that his trajectory this season, which includes Critics Choice and Spirit nominations, is most similar to Ethan Hawke last year, who was ultimately not nominated. I’m expecting a surprising list here in some way, and hopefully a good one. I may change this on Sunday when I post my final predictions – I’m still not too confident.

One possible crazy scenario: A wonderful Globe nominee, Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit), overcomes his age to join his film with a lead acting nomination.

Forecasted winner: It should be Phoenix barring any serious surprises.

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