Like with Best Actress, the Oscar race for Best Actor comes in three tiers. There are the clear front-runners, sure-fire nominees. There are two or three likely nominees. And then there’s the rest, a handful of actors in the mix that could slip in last minute.
The hardest spot to predict is the last one. The fifth spot could be filled by a number of quality performances.
- Christian Bale – Vice
- Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
- Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
- Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
In the Mix:
- John David Washington – Blackkklansman
- Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased
- Ryan Gosling – First Man
- Robert Redford – The Old Man and the Gun
- Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
Also like Best Actress, the SAG and Academy Award categories often have minor alterations, one or two nominees that are different. In this case, I think the first out is John David Washington. His is a strong performance in an Oscar-contending film, but Ethan Hawke’s performance in First Reformed is undeniable.
Hawke has received numerous critics awards over the last two months. Even though he did not nab a Golden Globe nor a SAG nomination, I think there is a chance that he can overtake Washington and earn the fifth slot.
The other Golden Globe hopefuls, Dafoe and Hedges, are less likely. These films are not receiving attention in any other category, and they are generally more underseen. Dafoe, in particular, seems like a longshot. Hedges has at least flooded the market enough this year to be on voters’ minds.
Similar to Hawke, Robert Redford has not received a strong campaign for The Old Man and the Gun, a swan song for his career. His performance got buzz upon the film’s release, and the Academy could reach out to reward his career as a whole. This seems less likely as we head into January, however.
No matter where the chips fall in that fifth slot, the other four are pretty much locked. You will not see this category missing Bradley Cooper or Christian Bale. And Rami Malek is a crowd favorite that would be surprising to see absent.
Green Book has its controversies, which will certainly sink its stock in the Best Picture race. But Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali should remain strong contenders until the end. Don’t expect Mortensen to win, but he should get a spot in the top five.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)