Best Actor at the 2018 Academy Awards is looking to be one of the more…obvious categories. This and Best Actress are going to be some of the easier categories to call, at least in terms of who is the determined front-runner going into the ceremony.
That said, upsets are what make these award shows fun, right? That and, you know, the possibility that someone is going to screw something up while on-stage.
- Timothee Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
- Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
- Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
- Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
- Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Will Win: Gary Oldman
Could Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Timothee Chalamet
The Best Actor category shaped out pretty much as expected in 2018. Denzel Washington snuck in in place of James Franco (The Disaster Artist). Some negative post-Golden Globes attention could have sunk that ship for Franco, because if it were on acting role alone he should have beaten out Washington, whose film Roman J. Israel, Esq. was a rather disappointing affair.
If Washington couldn’t pull out the win for Fences last year, then I don’t see how he could win it this year. Consider him the lowest rung on the totem pull in this batch of actors.
Oldman is the supposed lock for the win here. Darkest Hour is perhaps the most Oscar-baiting of Oscar-bait movies in 2017 (although The Post gives it a run for its money in that regard). Oldman is a good Churchill, but arguably there are more gripping performances in this year’s crop. The difference is that the Academy loves it when actors dress up in period costuming and become unrecognizable in portrayal of a historical figure.
As much as Kaluuya sells the horror and unsettling nature of Get Out, his role is less likely to translate into Academy praise than the other actors here. Get Out is an unconventional pick to begin with, but Kaluuya’s character also doesn’t have a gravitas or emotional depth that the Academy generally rewards.
The real contenders to usurp Oldman are Day-Lewis and Chalamet. Daniel Day-Lewis’ role in Phantom Thread is a reported swan song, and the Academy may want to award him one more time before he shuffles off into supposed retirement. All the same, his is perhaps the least exciting major acting performance in Phantom Thread (the nod for Lesley Manville is much deserved, in this regard).
The real winner in 2017 for male acting performance is Timothee Chalamet. Many cite the static final image of him during the credits of Call Me by Your Name, but his performance throughout that film is what sells the emotional heart of the story.
The Academy is not against brandishing young new talent by putting them onstage with a golden statue in their hands. Could that be the case for Chalamet? It would be a surprise, for sure, but I don’t think it is out of the question.
As always, thanks for reading!
Like CineFiles on Facebook for updates on new articles and reviews
Check out my page on Letterboxd
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)