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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Oscar 2015 Predictions: Best Actor

The biggest slam-dunk in this year's Oscar acting categories is Best Actor, as it's finally Leonardo DiCaprio's turn. Interestingly, of all the films he's been nominated for, he probably has the fewest lines in The Revenant, the story of a mountain man's thirst for vengeance. But wordiness or the lack thereof has never been a hindrance to winning an Oscar; just ask Jean Dujardin.

DiCaprio, now 41, was first nominated as a teenager for What's Eating Gilbert Grape and has since become one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. The publicity of what he endured--lying naked inside a horse carcass (of course it wasn't a real horse carcass) and eating buffalo liver, plus the sense that he was "due" have put him at the top of the heap. If he doesn't win it would be the biggest upset all night.

So what would happen if DiCaprio would suddenly come out as a holocaust denier? It's really hard to say. It certainly won't be Michael Fassbender, who was very wordy as Steve Jobs in the film of the same name. If the film had been a hit we'd be talking more about him, but as such he probably just sneaked in with the nomination and has not been on the campaign circuit. He is a nonfactor.

Perhaps Bryan Cranston, as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo, could be the sentimental second choice. The Academy loves movies about movies, and Trumbo has become something of a hero, a blacklisted writer who manage to win two Oscars under pseudonyms while somehow keeping his ideals. Cranston has already won an Emmy and a Tony, and in another year might have had a chance.

Matt Damon has never won an Oscar as an actor, only as a screenwriter, and he does a fine job in making The Martian the entertainment it was, mainly with his monologues into a video camera. He's funny and heroic and all that good stuff, but The Martian's status as a frontrunner has gone down the tubes and with it any chance of Damon winning.

The only previous winner as an actor is Eddie Redmayne, nominated in his second year in a row for The Danish Girl. Had he not won last year, he might have a shot here, as I found this performance of a man transitioning into a woman fascinating. Given the prominence of trans-gender topics in the news these days, it would have a kind of zeitgeist thing. But there's no way he's winning a second Oscar before DiCaprio wins one.

Will Win: DiCaprio
Could Win: Cranston
Should Win: DiCaprio
Should Have Been Nominated; Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes

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