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« Queer TIFF: "Vita & Virginia" and "Tell It To the Bees" | Main | Supporting Actor - New Oscar Chart! »

Best Lead Actor - New Oscar Chart

by Nathaniel R

If current predictions hold we're looking at quite an exciting Best Actor shortlist: Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, Ryan Gosling, Ethan Hawke, and Viggo Mortensen. They've all been nominated multiple times for their acting but have yet to win. Since they're all hugely talented, it's basically a win-win scenario on Oscar night no matter who wins, really!  At least that's how it feels at this current moment looking at the grid.

Of course it's only September and things could definitely change. Things could definitely change in the name of Christian Bale as Vice Dick Cheney. Check out the revised chart with new photos, new ranking, new text. Thoughts?

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Reader Comments (49)

I agree with everyone here but Hawke. I'm totally biased - HATED the movie - but I'm also surprised you have Washington so low on the list. Do we think BlacKkKlansmen will fall out entirely? It's a pretty decent sized hit and I feel like Oscar loves a dynasty. He's in my expected five, but the other four match your other picks. I imagine it's Cooper vs. Gosling for the win, though Dafoe hitting two years in a row could be a talking point.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Bale is a possibility for a second win. Though they may wait him out since someone like Dafoe has never been recognized with a win and this is the lead category.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I'll be surprised if Bale misses. They like him a lot. Not to mention he has physically transformed himself to play a famous person to whom he has no resemblance. It's Oscar bait (look at Oldman and Redmayne).

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

It would be miraculous if Bale created an award-worthy Cheney that didn't help to rehabilitate his vile politics in the same way that Streep did Thatcher's with "The Iron Lady." I mean, if Cheney is just Satan, he's a bad character, and if he's rounded and sympathetic, he's a Cheney I don't care to see. Now that we're living in the hellish alternative reality of our current situation, I have zero patience for certain things.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

I second eurocheese's comments re First Reformed, a film that did not work for me at all, and I think Hawke has an uphill battle to secure a nomination for that role given the strong overall playing field this year. He will face stiff competition from Jackman and Carell (both so well-liked in the industry, though Carell may be vulnerable since neither of the films for which he'll be in contention seem to be playing especially well), and of course Redford (who I don't anticipate slipping in at this point, but who we can expect to give them all a run for their money nonetheless). For me, Cooper and Gosling are the only locks at this point, with Bale the wildcard. Even with little information available about Vice, like Suzanne, I expect he will make it into the category and potentially present a problem for Bradley Cooper once he's there. Otherwise, I think Mortensen is a wise bet for now, given the raves for Green Book, and Dafoe's chances look good, but I won't be shocked to see him overlooked for someone younger and more accessible.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJes V.

If VICE is the big mystery here, and Carrell is in play for both Beautiful Boy and Marwen, then I think he's a serious dark horse for Supporting in VICE as Rumsfeld.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCorey


September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMe

I'm surprised there's no buzz for Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury yet. Maybe it's a dud?

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

At this point Cooper, Mortensen, and Bale seem most likely to me. Beyond that I think it's tough to know. Will critics rally to Dafoe? Will audiences boost Jackman? Will the Redford swan song steadily develop? Campaign season seems likely to be pretty important in filling out this field.

Also, it's not shocking of course, but still - good grief does this look like a comparatively weak field when put up against the depth of competition for Best Actress.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Brilliant as he is in it, I remain unconvinced Hawke emerges much of a factor once precursor season begins. I also think Redford is probably in.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

I have to state now that First Reformed is one of the best movies I've ever seen.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

They either crown a Hollywood King Gosling or Cooper or a veteran Dafoe or Mortensen,I really hope Hawke makes it but Nat he really needs the passion to be shouted out loud.I take it your doing that.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I think bad buzz has given Bohemian Rhapsody a question mark,some early reports are saying it's a bit by the numbers,I am hopeful Malek can embody the worlds greatest ever frontman Freddie Mercury but it's huge shoes to fill.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

For me, I believe Redford will get a spot between the nominees shortlist - an amazing career, an iconic movie star and an actor who was kinda underrated (remember his atrocious snub for ALL IS LOST?). That said, I think it's the right role for a career achievement prize and the performance is said to be a magnetic one - that kind of performance that lives on real movie star charisma.
So, my predictions:
2. Cooper, A STAR IS BORN
4. Gosling, FIRST MAN
6. Mortensen, GREEN BOOK
7. Hedges, BOY ERASED

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I have a feeling John C. Riley might sneak in for Stan & Ollie the same way Bryan Cranston unexpectedly starting showing up in every precursor list for Trumbo.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Redford and Hawke are two of my favorite actors. I just find it hard to believe that in this category, which often plays against my tastes, they will go for one of these classic underactors, much less both.

But if they will go for either of them, it will be Redford, who is in the easier to watch, more sentimental movie, I think.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I think Hawke will play well with (non-televised) precursors. He might not check all the Globe/SAG/BAFTA boxes but city critics' prizes will keep him in the conversation. He's getting fawned over in those circles.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

They're all way too hot. We never have this kind of lineup.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I truly hope Hawke makes the cut... he is a consistently great actor.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

Yeah on the #OscarsSoWhite comment, it's going to look super weird if there's an all white Actor line up when the BP nominees are mostly going to be about non-white leads (Beale, Klans, maybe Panther, Roma, Widows, plus Green Book has racism front and center). If Davis scores the only leading nod from those films, it looks like a disconnect in the Academy's favorite films and who they want to reward.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I disagree... There are plenty of black contenders across the board... Beale Street, Green Book, Black Panther, Roma and BlacKkKlansman for Best Picture; Cuarón, Lee and Chloé Zhao for Best Director; Davis, Aparicio and Layne competing for Best Actress; Regina King for Best Sup. Actress; M.B.Jordan, Mahershala Ali and Stephan James contending for Sup. Actor; and again Lee and Cuarón and Ryan Coogler contending for screenplay categories.
Maybe Best Actor is #soWhite, but you can find a balance in other categories (and maybe Washington gets late buzz for BlacKkKlansman, who knows)

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEd

So Lucas Hedges has no chances anymore for Boy Erased? I heard he's fantastic in Ben is Back as well.

Ethan Hawke has to be nominated.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRod

eurochees / Ed:

It remains extremely problematic to me that actors/actresses of color, to the extent they are offered a seat at the awards table at all, are most always in the supporting categories. But to reiterate an opinion so many have expressed in response to #oscarssowhite, I think that's less of an Academy problem and more of a general production/casting diversity problem. I agree it is a bad look if Davis is the only lead acting nomination this year for a person of color (even assuming, at a minimum, that Ali and King make it into the supporting categories, which seems likely), but the Academy can't award lead performances that don't exist.

Also, a Chloé Zhao Director nomination is a pipe dream, but an extremely beautiful one.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJes V.

@Jes V.

It's my pipe dream! Hope AMPAS members and precursor awards (at least the non-televised) look at "THE RIDER" with the consideration it deserves.... It's one of the very best movies of the year I've seen.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEd


Malek - Cooper - Jackman - Redford - Hedges will be on the fifith spot.

I really hope Ethan Hawke is out. I hated First Reformer. And, as a big fan of Paul Schrader, that hurts me a lot.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I think Hawke is going to make a near sweep of the critics' awards, a la Dafoe and Metcalf last year.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

i would be a-OK if Malek gives an award worthy performance and crashes the party. I first noticed him in the Pacific where he was the clear MVP from the sidelines. This actor knows how to give an interesting and compelling performance.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

I doubt think Hawke makes it. I couldn’t watch the whole movie AND I usually like slow movies.

Even if critics like it, his movie sucks and is a chore to get thru so I don’t see the larger award bodies nominating him at all even if some critics group’s do.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Cannot think of anything less exciting than 5 white men.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Except for Viggo, I am underwhelmed. Aren't Bradley and Ryan kind of playing themselves? Or in Bradley's case I guess a real stretch if you look in the closet.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJono

I agreed w the other four except Hawke. I tink he'll hav a uphill battle as the film is pretty divisive n voters will feel it had been released like 20 yrs ago come Oscar race. He might get sum luv fr Indie Spirits Awards or some critics.

At this juncture: metink the 5th spot shld b Bale or Redford w Hedges, the dark horse.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Hi Claran. What about the lead from The Rider? He was great. Off topic but Sarah Snook in Succession is fantastic. Its like she gets to play Meryl Streep in the Plenty dinner scene for 8 hours. Great performance for a newcomer.

September 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ford

That's too much of a perfect line up to occur: five phenomenal (pro), Oscar-less (pro) actors who have been defining modern film (pro) and that also share a rather effortless approach to acting AND Hollywood (huuuuge con).

Considering both Hawke's and Dafoe's films come from the "art-circuit" (if that's a thing) I think one of them will be out in favor of Bale (transformation, showy, classic Bale...irresistible for voters) or Hedges.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJ.

Hi Tom Ford

I believe Chloe Zhao's The Rider has missed the boat?? It was nom at Indie Spirits award this yr so it means likely it had opened for award consideration last yr i.e. 2017.

Not only Hawke is hanging by the thread. Dafoe i fear might b snubbed if At Eternity's Gate is not well campaign. Its acquired by CBS which i dunno abt their campaign stamina + the subject matter might b too bleak for some AA members

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Hedges didn't do the film festivals as he's in rehearsal for a play in NYC which is running all fall. He isn't likely gonna be on the campaign circuit.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I'm so vexed that someone thought it essential to give Cheney a biopic that I only want the movie to succeed at failing. Why should this story be told at this moment in our history?

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Claran, the Indie Spirits can go by festival appearances. It's eligible for this year for other awards.

Ethan Hawke is this year's Javier Bardem or Damian Bachir, I reckon.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

@Troy: That vexation only makes sense if you assume Vice is a love letter to Dick Cheney. Getting a biopic is not some implied honorific. Many (including this one, I suspect) are pretty vicious.

We need to stop policing which stories are allowed to be told, at what time, for what purpose, and so on. Everything is not a triumph of the human spirit. Everything does not shed light on the precise grievances that Twitter is discussing at any given moment.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMiz Miz

Miz Miz, the irony of your comment is your assumption that I don't know that biographical movies don't always exist in deference to their subjects. I don't need you to tell me how biopics work. I don't presume anything about the nature of the content of the film, nor am I trying to police the types of stories which are told. I expressed my opinion regarding the mere existence of the film itself, and as a consumer of media, I am more than allowed to question why, to what extent, and by whom certain stories are told.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

I cannot wait for the Cheney biopic and I'm still waiting for the Kissinger miniseries

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

In all seriousness, I cannot wait for that FOX News movie. Allison Janney just joined the cast. I wish Adam McKay were directing instead of Jay Roach.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I'm surprised to not see Hedges on here for Ben is Back, even if just as a long shot. Though that may be due to Nathaniel not seeing it yet. There wasn't a lot of early buzz, but those who have seen it now think Roberts and Hedges are both very much in play for nominations.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDanny

Hi Glenn Dunks, thx for the Indie Spirits Award clarification! 😀 The Rider premiered at Cannes in Apr 2017, but opened in US in Apr 2018. Thx Wiki! 😂

To Tom Ford's earlier Q. As an Asian, I'm glad Chloe Zhao is receiving sum love but i tink The Rider wld b a even tougher sell than First Reformed. Its too small scale n underrated. Its Oscars chance will be boasted immersely had Indie Spirits chosen to nom it this Nov, thereby increasing its visibility for the awards season..but the timing probably ruin its chances.

On the chances o the Male Lead, good n sensitive as I heard his performance was, the Indie Spirits din make room for him. So even if The Rider did recv sum luv, i wld tink it wld be Chloe Zhao for the writing?

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

@Troy H: And I'm allowed to point out that the basis of your opinion is absurd and illiberal. You're suggesting that such a project doesn't have sufficient grounds to exist. You may not have the authority to police what movies get made (and thank god for that) but you obviously wish the powers that be would shoot projects down (on the basis of subject matter, creative teams, etc.) on sight. That's a very ugly position to stake out about the creation of art.

What legitimate questions could you have about why someone would make a movie about a loathesome vice president?

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMiz Miz

Miz Miz: Movies don't exist entirely unmoored from their moment, though. Is a Cheney bio really a right choice for "now"? Spielberg's Lincoln could afford to not deify him because it was in the middle of the Obama era, for example. We need "hero biopics" right now and we could have saved the Cheney biopic for when a walking dumpster fire...isn' power?

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Interesting and surprising to me to see several commenters here had such a visceral reaction against First Reformed. I can see how it would be divisive but I loved it—I felt every scene had something interesting going on, often nonverbal and atmospheric. Its quiet gravitas followed by that bonkers, open-ended final scene really worked for me. And none of it would’ve been possible without Hawke, who makes such interesting career choices. Hope he manages to land a nom.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterER

Why is Willem Dafoe playing Van Gogh? I like Dafoe, but Van Gogh was 37 when he died. Right now Dafoe is 63. Also, there was only a five-year age gap between Gaugin and Van Gogh. (Gaugin was five years older than Van Gogh.) Dafoe is 24 years older than Oscar Isaac.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAmory Blaine

Once again, Miz, the hypocrisy of holding me to task for trying to "police" art while simultaneously policing my opinion. Are you mad or simply mad-adjacent? Did I say something that struck a nerve? Did I tell you that you couldn't like the movie or Christian Bale in it? Stop trying to come for me without the benefit of my address, and go find light and love.

September 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

I have a soft spot for Viggo Mortensen. He is a wonderful actor, but he also lived in Argentina for a number of years when he was a kid and loves the country. He visits every now and then and starred in and produced an Argentine film (Everybody Has a Plan, 2012). He speaks excellent Spanish with an Argentine accent and is a huge fan of the Argentine soccer team, San Lorenzo. He has even attended festivals and award ceremonies wearing the colors of that team or its flag wrapped around him like a poncho. He's also been photographed drinking "mate", our traditional alternative to coffee or tea!

September 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

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