Oscar Nomination Race: Best Actor

There has been a lot of drama surrounding the Academy Awards this year. Many people feel the award ceremony is outdated, too long, unfunny, out of touch, and a lot of other colorful words that basically mean “bad.” It seemed like this year the Academy has wanted to combat their ever dropping viewer count but has only managed to stir up more controversy.

First, there was the disastrous attempt at a “Best Popular Film” category which was immediately backtracked. Then the not as well known but still notable scandal surrounding Foreign Films. This involved US Territories petitioning to be allowed to submit under Best Foreign Films instead of having to fight Hollywood made movies for the other awards. This was denied, which caused a minor uproar among US Territory filmmakers, and in particular, Puerto Rican filmmakers. And of course, the issues regarding a host – Kevin Hart signing up, dropping out, and then being rumored to sign back up again. It seems that the Oscars will not have a host this year, a move that is puzzling to viewers, as the last time they didn’t have a host was not particularly well received. They’ve also made the decision to have a hard line at three hours, and are bundling many of the technical awards together to be shown at the very end. Whether these changes will help their viewers remains to be seen.

Still, the endless think pieces and guesses for who will win the biggest awards keeps going on. Last year, we at the Audio Visual Department had our own guesses as to who might win Best Picture. This year, we’re looking at the Best Actor category.

Christian Bale in Vice

Theatrical poster for Vice

Despite some setbacks with Vice and it’s release date being pushed back, Bale picked up the Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Award for the Golden Globes this past Sunday. This points to a Best Actor nod at the very least but definitely puts him at the front of the race. This combined with the movie being a bit of everything the Academy loves – an actor who puts his whole being into a performance, a searing look at a historical and political figure, and a sweeping historical piece. It could be that this is the movie that finally gets the actor that coveted Best Actor prize, an award he has been nominated for once but has yet to win.

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

bohemian rhapsody2
Theatrical poster for Bohemian Rhapsody

One of the biggest surprises this award season has been the number of wins that the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has picked up. The film did great at the box office but was garnered mediocre reviews from critics, leading many to assume it wouldn’t win many awards. The movie has gone on to surprise many for the amount of nominations and wins it has picked up – though many seemed pleased with Malek’s Best Actor win at the Golden Globes, and he is generally agreed to be the best thing about the movie. The question is – can Rami Malek ride this momentum all the way to the Academy Awards or will the problems critics had with the movie be too much for his performance to surmount?

Viggo Mortensen in The Green Book

green book
Theatrical poster for The Green Book

An initially under-looked movie that quickly turned heads, Viggo Mortensen has been a surprise winner this award season. While the movie itself has relatively mixed reviews – the main criticism being that the movie is too “feel good” for its subject matter – the performances from its stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have been getting rave reviews. With Viggo Mortensen winning the NBR award for Best Actor, he seems a shoo-in for a Best Actor nomination. He did, however, fail to win the Golden Globe win from Christian Bale, but that might not mean he won’t win the Oscar. Both movies and performances have things that the Academy has historically been fond of, with the Green Book being a feel-good historical piece that explores the bonds of friendship and the relationships that develop between people from different walks of life.

John David Washington in Blackkklansman

Theatrical Poster for Blackkklansman

A newcomer on the big screen and son of actor Denzel Washington,  John David Washington has yet to win an award for his role as Detective Ron Stallworth in the award season. Despite that, he has won nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Critic’s Choice. Nominations and winners for those awards are generally the best indicators for who will be nominated for the Oscars. He’s going up against a lot of big names in the industry, and it seems unlikely that he will win, but if the Oscars were looking for a surprise upset win, it would most likely be with John David Washington. As it is, they’re likely to give him a nomination as a nod to his critically acclaimed performance.

Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born

a star is born
Theatrical poster for A Star is Born

While Cooper has definitely been a fan favorite and front runner for Best Actor, he has a number of obstacles he has to climb before being guaranteed that Best Actor award. Firstly, he is not only the lead actor in the movie but also the director. In the history of the Oscars, there have been very few people that have won an acting award for directing themselves in a movie – Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, and Warren Beatty all won Best Director and picked up a nomination for Best Actor, but none of them won it. Secondly, every version of A Star is Born has been historically shut out of Academy Award wins – including the rather infamous snub of Judy Garland in Best Actress, who was supposed to be a sure thing, but lost. And thirdly, and most importantly – the movie hasn’t been doing as well as expected in the acting category during this award season. Despite huge box office numbers and glowing reviews from critics, Bradley Cooper has not won Best Actor at many of the major award festivals, losing the NBR award to Viggo Mortensen, and the Golden Globe to Rami Malek. The movie only won a single Golden Globe from its five nominations – with a win for Best Original Song. While it’s likely he will get nominated, it seems incredibly unlikely that he’ll win.


So – who do you think will win? Will Bradley Cooper overcome the odds and finally get that Best Actor award after four nominations? Will John David Washington win for his feature film debut? Or will one of our previous season award winners snag the win?



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