(Photo by A24)
Continuing our series of Ridiculously Early Oscar Predictions, we now move on to the gentlemen. As noted when we released our Ridiculously Early Best Actress predictions, it might seem ludicrous to start guesstimating contenders so soon, but the Oscar movie calendar is starting earlier and earlier as is awards season itself and the very notion of an Oscar movie is changing.
Our early Best Actor predictions list is supersized because we might be facing the most competitive race in the category in decades. The upcoming seasoncould evendethrone 1993, which is considered by many to be the most competitive year ever when it comes to Best Actor: Al Pacino(Scent of Woman) wonthe award over Robert Downey Jr. (Chaplin), Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven), Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), and Denzel Washington (Malcolm X).
The same storm of fierce competition is a-brewing for 2020. How do we know?Anumberof the filmslikely to be in the conversation have already screened at festivals and earned Tomatometer scores, and pundits are already singling out the major standout performances in them. There are also othersthat nobody has yet seen, but for which early pre-release buzzand expectations are high. With that said, some on this list may end up in the Supporting Actorcategory, and weve omitted names like Tom Hanks, who plays Mr Rogers inA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,becausewebelieve hell be in that Supporting race.
Whether we like it or not, the campaigns are quietly underway, the conversation has started, and were now ready to join it. Ifhistory and basic math tell us anything, it is that most of these names wont make it to Oscar night, but were pretty confident many of them will be right up there in the awards chatter. So read on as we break down our ridiculously earlypicks for 2020 Best Actor contenders.
Dont agree with our picks? Have at us in the comments.
This fresh take on Bonnie and Clydecame from the mind of Lena Waithe and is based on a story by James Frey. (Yes, its the I lied to Oprah James Frey, but try not tohold that against the film.) In the debut feature film fromMelina Matsoukas (director of Beyonces Formation music video), we follow Queen and Slim, two strangers who end up on the run together and maybe fall in love. RT was lucky enough to screen a few minutes of the film, and whatwe saw was enough to make two bold predictions:Queen and Slimmight be in the awards conversation, and Daniel Kaluuya could very well pull another Oscar nod. WithGet Out andWidows, the Britishactorhas quietly morphed into one of the hottest young talentsworking; what he is able to to do in one conversation with co-star Jodie Turner-Smith is nothing short of spectacular.
Noah Baumbach was at one timeless than thrilled that his 2017 release The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) was picked up by streaming giant Netflix; he had beenvery much hoping for a traditional studio run. However, those ill feelings have seemingly subsided, as he chose to produce his latest film entirely under the Netflix banner. (Hes in good company at the streamer, withAva DuVernay, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Soderbergh all releasing projects there.) We have already singled out Scarlett Johanssons Marriage Story performance as one that couldgo the distance, and her co-star Adam Driver is rumored to be equally impressive. The movie tells the story of a bicoastal breakup and hasbeen described as a modern-day Ordinary People mixed with a dash ofKramer vs. Kramer; its saidto bepoignant, intimate, and like so many otherBaumbach films full of big laughs and tears. Speaking to IndieWirein July, theWhile Were Young director confessed the film defies categorization: [Marriage Story] isa hidden thriller, a procedural, a romantic comedy, a tragic love story. I felt like this was a subject that could handle all those things.
Apost-Fox merger world could provide Walt DisneyStudios with some chances at Best Actor trophies and, more importantly, something theyve never been able to get:a Best Picture Academy Award.You read that correctly: Disney has never won an Academy Award for Best Picture. Just let that sink in. With the Fox merger,Disneynow has a host of titles that will give ita competitive edge for awards, one of the biggest being Ford v. Ferrari. The movie tells the true-life tale of how the Ford Motor Companyworked tirelessly to build a car that could beat racing powerhouse Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966. Starring Matt Damon as famed Ford car designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as racinglegendKen Miles, the films trailer promises a funny, fast-paced adventure. Both lead actors are coming off recent nominations Bale for Vice and Damon for The Martian andwith Logan and Walk the Line director James Mangold behind the camera, the odds are very much in their favor.
When Adam Sandler released his comedy special 100% Fresh earlier this year, everyone here at RT had to crack a smile. Though the comedians filmography,which is featured heavily in our upcoming book Rotten Movies We Love,is beloved by many, he has not been much of critical darling, especially lately. That being said, when Sandler teams up with indie directors, good things happen.The aforementioned The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) earned the former SNL star his best reviews in years, and Paul Thomas Andersons indie darling Punch Drunk Lovescored Sandler hisfirst Golden Globe nomination. In Uncut Gems, the New York native plays a celebrity jeweler from New Yorks famed Diamond District who is suddenly thrust into a race-against-the-clock-thriller to get back his merchandise or pay off his debts when one of his couriers is robbed. Robert Pattinson banged around the indie circuit withsome strongroles during and after his Twilight years, butit was his frantic performance as a bank robber in the Safdie Brothers Good Time that finally resurrectedhim in the minds of many critics. Its no wonder Sandler signed on to take the lead in their follow-up film.
Our new Batman and in this house, we do sayBattinson owes much to the Safdie BrothersGood Time for rehabbing his image in the minds of non-Twilightfans. (OK, and Claire Denis and David Cronenberg and other great indie directors hes been working with.) A supremely talented actor, he hasfought hard to do the kinds of roles that inspire him.Back in 2017 at the SavannahFilm Festival he said, I like finding directors who havent been fully realized by the wider world yet. The Lighthouse, whichwon the Cannes Critics Award, was one of the best-reviewed films of theFrench film festival. Those lucky enough to catch a screening have dubbed the story of two men trapped in an 1800s lighthouse a gothic horror masterpiece. Willem Dafoe, who last year pulled a nomination forthe Vincent van Gogh biopic At Eternitys Gate,is an Academy favorite with five career nominations, and as of today both he and R. Patz areright in the mix to score a nomination. Firstreviews out of the Cannes Film Festival predicted as much, and nothing has changed since then to slow down eithers momentum.
Last year, during the Oscars ceremony, as Netflix was racking up multiple wins from its15 nominations, the studio opted to play a teaserfor Martin Scorseses upcoming and long-awaited film The Irishman. It was a mic drop moment to be sure, and while the trailershowedno footage or even an official image, the names plastered on the screen were enough:Robert De Niro,Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Martin Scorsese. In a script by Steven Zaillian, The Irishman follows Jimmy Hoffa and a cast of mob characters that includes his former bodyguard, who later confessed to murdering him. Recently, Netflix dropped the teaser trailer, providing a sneak peek ofThe Irishmanthat showed off its notorious use ofCGI technology to de-agethe older cast to their thirties, forties, and fifties.Using technology completely foreign to what weve seen in theMCU, or will see in Ang LeesThe Gemini Man starring Will Smith, The Irishman has positioned itself for multiple, possible double-digit nominations in technical and above-the-line categories, including possible nominations for its three leads. There isa tendency with awards films to categorize supporting performances as leads and vice-versa were looking you Alicia Vikander but from what we saw, De Niro was firmly in the lead category, with question marks forthe rest.
WhenTaron Egerton sat down with us earlier thisyear and broke down how hebecame Elton John,he confessed it was a transformative experience, nothing short of life-changing.It was something like that for many who watched it, too.The film premiered to acclaim at theCannes Film Festival earlier this year, andboth Egerton and his co-star Jamie Bell were singled out for their memorable performances. In an ultra-crowded field,Egertonhas a harder road to get to Oscar night than, say, Rami Malek had last year. His performance has the goods, but as our exhaustive list of lead and potential lead performances suggests, this year is going to be a murderers row of talent.
If Joaquin Phoenix can pull off another Oscar nomination for his upcoming role in Todd PhillipsThe Joker, he will officially be in Meryl Streep territory.Not to say he equals Streep inaccomplishments, but whenever he takes a role theres a safe bet hes going to be in the conversation even if its a comic-book movie. Its one of the reasons why were giving his performance in Todd Phillips take on the iconic Batman villain a chance.We dont know much about the film itself, which will debut at the Venice Film Festival, but weve detailed what we doknow about the upcoming feature here. One thing we know for sure is that this is a complete departure from the DCEU. Phoenix takes the lead as the titular villain, giving us a detailed backstory to Batmans greatest rival; and while many predict itwill borrow heavily from the comics, it remainsindependentfrom any previous origin story. The Gladiator star, whofell short of an Oscar nomination in 2018 for Lynne Ramsays You Were Never Really Here, looks to have dived headfirst into this new iteration of the character. And though Phillips is mostly known for comedies, he does seem to get the best out of his actors. After all, Bradley Cooper didnt show up for the Hangover III because he was bored.
Star power could be the thing that differentiates these two performances in a crowded field. Because, well, theyreLEO AND BRAD!Even if the duo doesnt campaign hard, their starry sheen and pedigreecould be enough to earn nominations. Also, they gave two of the most universally acclaimed performances of the year even if the movie they were featured in has divided some critics.DiCaprio is brilliant as the hapless, self-absorbed, aging TV star Rick Dalton, and Pitts quiet confidence and cocksure smile as strong and silent stuntman Cliff Booth have charmed both critics and audiences alike. Theyre dynamite together, too.Add in the fact thatbothstars and co-star Margot Robbie are staples on the awards circuit, with recent nominations (and a couple of wins), and youd be hard-pressed argue against eitherof them making the cut.
If you had told us, afterseeing his breakthrough performance in Robert RodriguezsDesperado, that Antonio Banderas wouldbe the frontrunner for a Best Actor prize some day, we would have said: Of course! He may have been a rarity in awards chatterover the past few decades, but Banderas hasalways had the chops. Action, romance, comedy, drama:TheMask of Zorrostar has excelled in all. This year, however, his eighth collaboration with director Pedro Almodvar could very well be his time. In a semi-autobiographical story about a filmmaker who struggles with pain and melancholy, partly inspired in part by 8 1/2,Banderas is vulnerable, heartbreaking, and captivating to watch. Since the film premiered at Cannes, Banderas has been getting buzz as believe it or not one of the few frontrunners who could unseat the likes of De Niro, DiCaprio, Pesci, or Pitt. A foreign language film is not the safest bet for an acting nomination stats-wise, but after AlfonsoCuarn won Best Director forRoma, anything is possible.
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