As far as I can tell, there are ten actors vying for five spots. It is a very competitive field with very few sure bets. The only two who will definitely be nominated are Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies and Sylvester Stallone for Creed. The awards season has been largely ignoring Steven Spielberg’s latest film, but three-time Tony winner Rylance has been consistently scoring nominations. He is a well respected actor finally getting his due in film. Stallone has returned to the role that made him a star and really delivers a powerful performance. As a capper to the Rocky legacy, a nomination is almost guaranteed.
Spotlight has two men in contention here, Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, and so far this season, they have been cancelling each other out. The movie has been a favorite for Best Picture, and it is difficult to make a prediction of this category without including one of them. Keaton is the guy I would go with between the two. After being robbed for the award last year for Birdman, Oscar voters could see this as a sort of mea culpa and put his name on the ballot. Ruffalo does have the bigger character and gets the Oscar clip yelling scene, but I think Keaton would get career votes. However, I think them cancelling each other out will continue to the Oscars and both of them will be left off. And if I had a vote, the Spotlight guy who would get my vote would be Liev Schreiber, but he has no shot.
After that, this is a bit of a nightmare to predict. I would say Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation is the next most likely choice. He was recognized at SAG and the Globes, and if the Academy is prone to watching Netflix, which they probably are, many people will have seen his performance. I think that will boost him to that third spot. Also, and I wish this wasn’t the case, the Academy would probably not want the scrutiny of another lily-white year.
Now, we have the remaining five actors looking to fill two spots. Those men are Tom Hardy for The Revenant, Paul Dano for Love and Mercy, Jacob Tremblay for Room, Michael Shannon for 99 Homes, and Christian Bale for The Big Short. Let me start with Hardy. Personally, I think he acts circles around his costar Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, but even with a lot of love this season for The Revenant, very little of that has trickled down to Tom Hardy, as the focus has been on getting DiCaprio his first Oscar. I think he will be on the outside looking in
Four left… All for have gotten major nods this season with Tremblay at SAG, Dano at the Globes, and Shannon and Bale at both. The Big Short has received a surprising (but justified) amount of praise this season, but Bale may suffer some category confusion, considering he was lead at the Globes and supporting at SAG. It may push him off the list. Shannon in 99 Homes has been a huge surprise, not because of the quality of the performance but because it is a little-seen movie from a tiny distributor (Broad Green Pictures). Do they have the marketing power to get screeners to voters to pimp his name? I’m not so sure. It is weird to leave these men off the list considering they have the two big prerequisite nominations, but that is what is happening.
That leaves me with Paul Dano, playing Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson, and nine year-old Jacob Tremblay. I predict these two will be the ones filling those remaining two slots. Dano is a well-liked actor, and his performance in Love and Mercy is arguably his best work to date. His previous shot at a nomination was There Will Be Blood, but he suffered the same thing Tom Hardy is this year, a lead who is getting all the attention. Love and Mercy has remained in the conversation since the summer due mostly to his performance.
I also think there will be a strong showing for Room at the Oscars. It’s one of those movies that is so emotionally powerful it is difficult to ignore. He is being placed in supporting because he is a child, but he is the lead of this movie. We haven’t seen this quality of performance from a child in a long, long time, and I think the Academy will be giving it to him. If Quvenzhané Wallis could get one for the very small Beasts of the Southern Wild, Tremblay can get one for an almost universally loved movie.
- Paul Dano – Love and Mercy
- Idris Elba – Beats of No Nation
- Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
- Sylvester Stallone – Creed
- Jacob Tremblay – Room
There you have it. I am not as confident with these predictions as I would like to be, but this is one of the tougher categories this year. If I end up being wrong, I would not be surprised. Who do you think will be in those five spots? Maybe a person I didn’t mention?
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