This Academy Awards rundown is the third of several that I’ll be doing for the major acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture. Definitely follow this blog on either Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress to keep up!
Additionally, this list is in order of least to most likely to win, and per usual, are accompanied by gifs. The next in this series will be Best Actress. Enjoy!
Denzel Washington: Roman J. Israel, Esq.
I don’t think there was a bigger surprise in the acting category than Denzel Washington. Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a far cry from Washington’s best work. The film is meandering and dull. Washington gives a solid performance, but I did not think it was “Oscar worthy” (whatever such sentiments mean). I get the sense that Washington may have been a first alternate. That is, once the James Franco allegations surfaced (making Franco too much of a dark mark to be nominated), then Washington took up the vacuum. I believe there were several better performances out there, whether that was Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Robert Pattinson (Good Time), Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger), or Tom Hanks (The Post). This nomination is another entry on Washington’s resume, but he has zero chance of winning.
Daniel Kaluuya: Get Out
I wish Daniel Kaluuya had a chance in this category. His performance in Get Out bordered between understated to tear your heart out of your chest. He’s one of those actors who sometimes makes it look too easy. That trait typically means that he’ll never get the credit that’s due to him. I think his relative newcomer status, the genre of Get Out, and his ease of acting were probably his biggest hurdles this year. I suspect he might be back in the Academy Award hunt next year with his new film Windows, directed by Steve McQueen, and starring Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, and Jon Bernthal. Until then, Kaluuya will just be happy to be there.
Daniel Day-Lewis: Phantom Thread
In his “final” performance, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a neurotic fashion designer who demonstrates the darkness of creative genius. In terms of Academy honors, no actor in this category has had a better track record. Day-Lewis has previously been nominated six times (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, Lincoln, and Phantom Thread). He has won three times (My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln), all for Best Actor. No actor has won more Best Actors than Day-Lewis, the next closest are Jack Nicholson, Spencer Tracy, Tom Hanks, Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, Dustin Hoffman, and Fredric Marc (all with two). Though Day-Lewis probably has no realistic shot to win, with that track record, it’s difficult to ever count him out. If you’re looking for a highly unlikely upset pick, Day-Lewis might be it.
Timothee Chalamet: Call Me By Your Name
Along with Daniel Kaluuya, Timothee Chalamet is the “new” blood added this year. Chalamet has been on an astounding run that’s included Lady Bird, Hostiles, Interstellar, and Call Me By Your Name, where he plays a boy named Elio who falls in love with a student of his father while living in Italy. It’s difficult to know why Chalamet hasn’t made more waves with his performance. Yes, he’s widely considered to be second in the running for this award, but he’s currently a distant second. Chalamet may have been hampered by the poor distribution done by Sony, and because none of the stars have been allowed by Sony to interview with an LGBTQ publication (what should be the film’s core audience). Getting an Academy Award is sometimes just as much about the campaigning as the performance. Chalamet held up his end of the bargain in the acting department, Sony defaulted on theirs.
Gary Oldman: The Darkest Hour
Darkest Hour is only Gary Oldman’s second Academy Award nomination. The first came as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In Darkest Hour, Oldman plays Winston Churchill, and does what he does best, he becomes unrecognizable. It’s difficult to think of many actors who no one would ever recognize on the street. Oldman fits that archetype not because he’s not well known, but because his appearance from part-to-part is so amorphous. I would put Oldman’s chances of losing Best Actor at zero. He’s won the Critic’s Choice, the Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA. There’s quite simply no one left to vote against him.
And though some may say that this is more of a career Oscar, I vehemently disagree with that sentiment. While Oldman isn’t “amazing” in Darkest Hour, those who have reduced his performance to mere shouting are dead wrong. His ability to emote beneath the makeup and prosthetic on his face and encapsulate a different Churchill than those previously seen on screen, make him well deserving of the Academy Award. Oldman should have one more acceptance speech at the ready.
Photo credit: EW.com