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The Best Actor Competition... What is Going On Here? 

Only two men seem to have even remotely locked up their positions in the current Best Actor race and one of those only on reputation / material alone since no one has yet seen Denzel Washington's adaptation of Fences. So is it really Denzel for this third Oscar versus Casey Affleck for his first or is there more going on? There had better be since there are five nomination slots. Ten if you think of it in terms of Golden Globe excitement come year's end.

Since romantic male leads have historically had a tough time finding Oscar nominations from the male-heavy Academy body (romance is for girls. ewwwww, cooties) I know it looks weird to suggest that both Joel Edgerton and Ryan Gosling are looking likely but at this stage the field is what the field is. Gosling in particular, an actor whose work I've always deeply loved don't misunderstand, would seem like a clear miss. Think about it. He's headlining a musical which relies heavily on his effortless dreaminess, vibrant musicality, and physical grace. Not that those aren't award worthy attributes but Oscar is very gender-rigid about which adjectives are award worthy and if you say "dreamy, musical, and graceful" they'll think Best Actress. Which is why Emma Stone is much more locked up as a competitor at this stage, even though, musically speaking, she isn't as natural a dancer or musician. (Please note: Gosling also plays piano like a pro or can fake it better than pretty much any other actor I've ever seen.)

Edgerton & Gosling's chief competition looks like very young men (in terms of Oscar-voter tastes) in the form of Miles Teller (if his movie's a success), Dev Patel (if they don't do something fishy with the campaign), and Joe Alwyn (if he's tremendous in his debut and people love the movie). I know some are banking on Matthew McConaughey in Gold or Andrew Garfield in Silence (both sight unseen) but I'm suspicious in both cases. Just a hunch. 

That's where we'll find the gold.

The lack of heavy competition in this race means that Tom Hanks will finally be back after missing so recently for his arguably best work in Best Picture nominees. We can hope that the lack of excitement in this race (to date at least) will inspire more passion votes, too. If voters aren't feeling the leading men this year they could always look at off center giants like Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic. I'd be shocked if there's five stronger leading male performances than his this year -- not that "deserves" got much to do with it. 

The New Best Actor Chart - Thoughts? 

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Reader Comments (35)

The only one I don't buy is in the top 10 is Miles Teller. He's not as good of an actor as we thought six years ago, and he's not as believable a boxer as any prior nominee for a boxing movie. Though, these kinds of role choices lend a lot of subtext to Teller playing Vanilla Ice at some point.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I currently have JGL higher up—but it's early. And I'm still predicting Keaton for the win—at least until the film has been seen. ;-)

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

This year's field looks as barren as last year's. And if you transplant Damon or Fassbender to this field, I think they'd have a shot of winning. Unreal.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate

You're SO right about Gosling (McGregor in Moulin Rouge, McAvoy in Atonement). I'm still hoping, praying he makes it in though.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I'd love for Logan Lerman to get some recognition this year. Such a great performance!

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRod

Maybe the critics groups will draw attention to someone like Colin Farrell in THE LOBSTER.

I've been a big fan of Joel Edgerton since I saw him play Henry V on stage in Sydney in 1998 (!) so I am very much hoping he will be nominated.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Gosling will be interesting !!! Also Garfield & Mortenson & Pine !! I'm hoping for a slot for Fassbender & Gayllenhaal who should have won in the previous years... But please please no Matthew McConaughey again - he's doing the same coke head performance in every movie !

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

FYC Colin Farrell - The Lobster

A24 and critic groups, please could you push this?

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJija

I don't buy Edgerton getting in based on the reviews. I think there will be at least one more guy who will push him out of the top 5 (see Keaton, Garfield, Pitt and yes even Parker).

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Ocsar Best Actor is still kind of a puzzle, but Golden Globe Best Actor is rich with possibilities. I don't see many of them making the transfer to Oscar nomination though.

Possible Golden Globe Best Actors in a Musical or a Comedy:

Ryan Gosling: La La Land
Ryan Gosling: The Nice Guys
Russell Crowe: The Nice Guys
Michael Pena: War on Everyone
Michael Shannon: Elvis and Nixon
Colin Farrell: The Lobster
Sam Neill: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Ryan Reynolds: Deadpool
Eddie Redmayne: Fantastic Beasts
Alden Ehrenreich: Rules Don't Apply
Tom Hardy: London Road
Bill Nighy: Their Finest
Don Cheadle: Miles Ahead
Ethan Hawke: Born to be Blue
Ferdia Walsh-Poole: Sing Street
George Clooney: Hail, Caesar

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteradri

adri -- if only the Globes were cool enough to nominated Ferdia Walsh-Poole... but they tend to ignore the young actors in movies too. even the young actresses . notice many classic high school movie actress sensations that would have been perfect in Musical/Comedy in their years.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Another weak as fuck year in the Best Actor category?? Although that makes me glad because it guarantees Gosling will finally get his second nomination. He's definitely winning the Comedy/Musical Globe and his movie will likely win Best Picture and/or Director so I fail to see how he won't be swept in the love.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDamn

Nat: Also, Simon Pegg doesn't even have a Comedy Globe nod, even though he deserves at least three of those by this point. (Pushing out Kline or Spacey in 2004, anyone but Reilly in 2007 and over Isaac or Dern in 2013.)

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I feel like the fight for the win here will be more brutal than the fight for the nominations. I feel like the fight for the win may be spread out over 4-5 men (vs. Best Actress where it is just clearly Portman vs. Stone going at it).

Heck, I can already see Affleck, Denzel, Hanks, Gosling and _____(Alwyn? Keaton?) fans fighting it out.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHuh

Viggo Mortensen feels like a Ryan Gosling in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. Qiurky performance in an eccentricly plotted movie that never had one thinking Oscar until critics and precursors start to include him in year end lists. Even if he starts to show up and become more plausible, I fear the Academy will leave him out. Here's to being wrong.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

I'd trade Gosling for Keaton

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

If only gosling got a meatier role in LA LA land he would be more of a sure thing. If he gets nominated it would be a good, fun nomination that's kind of refreshing from these baity, dramatics roles that populate this category.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNico

I know it's a crazy suggestion (foreign language, comedy etc) but in a weak year could a half decent campaign for Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann) bring him into the conversation?

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

I loved Farrell in 'The Lobster' but don't really see a way a movie that small or strange could manage a nomination.

Would love to see Viggo get another nom. To my mind, he should probably already have three - for 'A History of Violence', and for 'A Dangerous Method'.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

@ BJT: If Trintignant's outstanding performance in the Best Foreign Language winner of that year couldn't get in, I don't see Simonischek breaking though, as great as he is in TE. (Fewer than ten foreign-language actors have ever been nominated, and most of them were or became international stars like Mastroianni, Dépardieu, von Sydow and Bardem.)

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Peter Simonschek would be a nomination for the ages!

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I think Nate Parker gets in. It's a "nobody tells me what to do" vote, if the performance (and film) is perceived as strong enough.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobUK

I've heard great things about McConaughey from test screenings but the film might need to be great for him to get in.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

"Or will the film struggle to get attention in crowded December? Moving it there seemed like a bad idea. "

Yeah, that's looking more and more boneheaded by the day for the Weinsteins. Why not get attention early - especially as this year is so thin. Very bizarre.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I saw Birth at TIFF. Its a good powerful but definitely flawed film. Parker would have rode a nomination for best actor on a wave with the film. He gives a good performance but there was nothing in it that was surprising or daring necessarily. I can't see the academy members going out of their way to nominate him now given the controversy etc. It's not an undeniable 'this has to be nominated' work if you know what I mean ?

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Gosling deserves a second nomination after a fantastic string of work. He's great in LA LA Land - sings, dances, acts and like you said - plays piano too. If he didn't have LA LA and with this weak of a category, I'd consider him for The Nice Guys too. It was an inspired comedic performance.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph W

So I have to see Sully? Really?

Liking the Farrell mentions. It could happen. And what about Oyelowo? Any early word on that film?

I'd guess Washington, Affleck, Gosling, Patel, Keaton for now. Loving doesn't seem to have stellar word of mouth, Alwyn may be too new/young, and I just don't know if they care about rewarding Hanks again.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I hope the Academy has buyer's remorse for anointing the backwoods bimbo an Oscar winner.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I think your top 5 looks pretty likely. I'm really hoping Joel Edgerton sneaks in, he's been such a solid player for so long now, and really deserves a bit of love.

I think Brad Pitt needs to be higher up the ranks.... depends how this divorce plays out obviously, but so far it seems to be falling in Pitt's favour (I hate to pander to this, but we all know it counts) I definitely see him in the Globes line up!!

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJB

@3rtful "...anointing the backwoods bimbo"

Pray tell, this mysterious bimbo??

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIshmael

Matthew McConaughey

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Got it.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIshmael

The only one on top10 that I've seen thus far is Tom Hanks in Sully. I really liked the film, but if this role gets him nominated, this really must be a low quality male acting this year all around...
I wonder if Roland Moller in Land of mine is even eligible. He did something really oscar worthy. And I wouldn't mind if Rolf Lassgard from A man called Ove gets some love from the Academy. But I guess Hanks with his typical acting (like he does all his roles lately) in Sully will be more likely to get in again... I really hope not.

September 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKrister

Casey Affleck should have won for Jesse James but you can't deny who won that year - Daniel Day Lewis and Javier Bardem. I just saw Manchester By The Sea. He is wonderful in it. Those two reasons together, (right now from what I've seen) he should win.

September 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph W

I think Matthew deserved his Oscar,...

September 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick

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