2020 Oscar Predictions — Best Actor

It is rare to see two different actors win an Oscar for playing the same role. I can only think of one—Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather II. John Wayne and Jeff Bridges were both nominated for playing Rooster Cogburn in two different True Grit adaptations, but only Wayne won.

This year, we could very well see a repeat character in Joker, which is somewhat surprising given the blockbuster films Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger were a part of are not the usual suspects for the Academy Awards.

The Nominees:

  • Adam Driver – Marriage Story
  • Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory
  • Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
  • Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes
  • Leondardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix

Could Win: Adam Driver

Dark Horse: Leonardo DiCaprio


The Screen Actors Guild Awards haven’t happened yet, but it seems unlikely that anyone is going to stop Joaquin Phoenix. Is it my personal favorite performance in this batch? No. Is it my personal favorite Phoenix performance? Not even close. But he seems untouchable after winning the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Award.

If you need more convincing, just look at his SAG competition. Taron Egerton and Christian Bale are notably absent from the Oscar race. If anyone is going to best Phoenix, it will be Adam Driver or Leonardo DiCaprio, but it seems that those actors’ screen partners have better chances at taking home the gold. DiCaprio is arguably outshined in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood by Brad Pitt (who also won the Globe and the Critics Choice). And while Driver and Johansson give knockout performances in equal measure in Marriage Story, the fact that the film is a clear two-hander only makes Phoenix look more impressive. Joker is Phoenix’s film, entirely. Without him, what would that film be?

The Academy loves performances like this, performances that define the movies they are contained within. Ensemble movies are a harder sell in these categories when these singular performances are in competition.

Banderas and Pryce are both quite good in their respective films (Banderas, in my personal opinion, is giving his career best performance). But they are not in the running for SAG, and they haven’t received any traction with wins from other major governing body.

Honestly, I think the Joker Oscar campaign would have to commit a major off-putting misstep to ruin this for Phoenix. Given that divisive film has navigated seas of controversy since its debut in September, this seems unlikely. But perhaps I shouldn’t speak so soon.


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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


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