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Friday, February 23, 2018

90th Academy Awards: Best Actor

From the debut of Darkest Hour at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, Gary Oldman has been the favorite for Best Actor, and nothing has changed since then. He hits a number of Academy favorites: plays a real person, is transformed by makeup, and has lots of speeches.

Oldman has won the important precursors, and I think he is well respected as an actor's actor, the kind that disappear into their roles. He's only been nominated twice, but one could sense he would win some day. Who else could be so convincing as both Sid Vicious and Winston Churchill?

As to who the runner-up might be, I suppose it's Timothee Chalamet as the young man who has a sexual awakening in Call Be By Your Name, but he has history against him: he would shatter the record for youngest winner in his category by over six years. Best Actor is not the place for young men. The only winners in their twenties were huge upset winners: Richard Dreyfuss (knocking off Richard Burton) and Adrien Brody (defeating four actors who had already won). The Oscar ninnies on the Internet are pushing for him, but I'm sure he'll be back.

Another actor who will probably be back is Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out, in what was a knockout first major film. He was in Black Panther, and seems poised to join those actors who have difficult to spell or pronounce names (Chiwel Ejiofor and David Oyelowo, I'm looking at you).

Someone who may not be back but already has three statuettes is Daniel Day-Lewis, this year nominated for what he says is his last role, that of a dress designer in Phantom Thread. I can't see how he could possibly beat Oldman for a fourth Oscar. And another multiple winner, Denzel Washington, scored his eighth nomination for Roman J. Israel, Esq. Most think he snagged the nomination James Franco would have received had he not been brought down by #MeToo. Washington was a contender last year for his third Oscar, but not this year, in a film little seen (I haven't seen it, although it comes out on DVD right after the Oscars).

So it appears that all four acting categories have strong favorites. The only suspense will be for Best Picture, which I'll discuss next week. Keep tuned.

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