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April Foolish Predictions #8: Lead Actor

by Nathaniel R

It won't be hard (qualitatively) for Taron Egerton to outdo Rami Malek in the biopic rock star acting department. But will Oscar feel like "we just did that"?

We didn't forget about our April Foolish Predictions, but just got a wee bit sidetracked. Today's update is the marquee category of Best Actor. Our crystal ball shows us virtually nothing this year in regards to this category with everyone feeling both likely and unlikely for various reasons. One of the most confusing elements is that we know Oscar loves non-fictional characters best but half of those performances seem to be in Netflix movies and you never know which they'll give the big push to, or even release in theaters at all. In the absence of sure things, even on paper, we decided to take some wild swings. For example: Daniel Kaluuya for Queen and Slim which might prove way too divisive since it was introduced as "protest art" at CinemaCon; Ben Affleck, who never has been praised all that much for the acting side of his career, for his addiction drama Torrance. We almost went with Mark Ruffalo who reads like a safe bet in a potentially great role in Todd Haynes's untitled new film. On the other hand, Haynes is not a speedy filmmaker so the likelihood of 2020 for that feels strong.

The safest bet on paper is surely Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. But they passed right by Hanks for Captain Phillips, Saving Mr Banks, The Post, and Bridge of Spies, any of which might have netted him an easier nomination in the 1990s when they couldn't get enough of him. So you never know.  Check out the chart to see where all the big names and rising stars rank. Do you have any hunches this early? 


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Reader Comments (29)

DiCaprio is definitely not 50 lol.

Also I believe Edgerton is bisexual.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

The Report is a terrible title.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCash

The one I'd be most sceptical of on paper is Affleck. If he couldn't get in for Argo... My guess:

1. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
2. Taron Egerton, Rocketman
3. Robert DeNiro, The Irishman (It's Scorsese/DeNiro again. In spite of it being Netflix, that's still an EVENT it's been so long. It'd have to be Diana level SUCK to not get in.)
4. Ian McKellan, The Good Liar
5. Edward Norton, Motherless Brooklyn
6. Adam Driver, The Report
7. Mark Ruffalo, Untitled Todd Haynes
8. Ben Affleck, Torrance
9. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
10. Christian Bale, Ford v. Ferrari

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

We're going to be getting a lot more of these wikipedia type musical biopics and i'm tired already.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

The only one I'm confident in is Hanks.

I'm also confident but dreading Egerton. How sad that Bohemian Rhapsody fills me with such dread for similar films and stories. Rocketman will be huge though. It'll be out as Elton is promoting his final tour. I'd also look out for Bell and Madden (fresh off Bodyguard) for Supporting Actor nods.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Not sure who I'd predict but your second two tiers almost feel stronger than your first tier.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJF

Christian Bale should probably be a bit higher given his Oscar history and the fact Ford v. Ferrari feels like a film that will appeal to them (though he may be campaigned in Supporting). He's bound to win a second Oscar before too long.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Agreed with jf about the second two tiers being stronger . I think deniro , chalamet and banderas all should be a bit higher !

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAmirfarhang

I really, really want "Rocketman" to be good. Doesn't need to be Oscars good, just good.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

On paper Hanks seems obvious, but I'm kind of more feeling some of your second tier: DeNiro, Ruffalo, and Driver (although Driver is still pretty young for that category). If their movies hit right, I could see Norton or Chalamet or maybe Bale, but those films seem likely greater question marks at this point.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

How funny to think that Ben Affleck could be poised for another "comeback" narrative; wasnt the mediocre Argo enough?

Taron Egerton seems like such a nice and likeable guy. For his sake, I hope that Rocketman is at the very least a good movie. Bohemian Rhapsody 2.0 would be too much to bear.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

Robert Pattison for “High Life” of course!

I haven’t seen it but I’ve been noting with interest all the pieces that have been written extolling him as a serious character actor. His last 10 years of doing a variety of character roles seems to have solidified his reputation as someone to take seriously.

The other is Adam Driver. Here he is now on Broadway, burning up the stage with Keri Russell. So plus his indie movies he has the serious actor credibility. Then he’s in Star Wars (in which I love him actually). So a satisfyingly all round actor who you can feel safe and daring nominating.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I told you already... Banderas is playing Almodovar in the film. With a different name, but it is SO underlined through the whole film and the whole performance, that it's undeniable, that he's playing a real life character... directed by him!

There are going to be many, many factors working both in his favor (Almodovar is one of the greatest Partymen in the world, and campaigning is his sauce, and he is obviously going to push his film and both Banderas and Cruz to Oscar glory) and against (Foreign language, he's always close but not cigar on American Awards, even in spanish ones... and some really BAD films in his resume). But honestly, looking back, the man should have been nominated for Law of Desire, Tie me up Tie me down, Philadelphia (supposedly director's cut) and The Skin I live in... a win for the latter, wouldn't have been out of question, imho.

But after Supporting Actor (full of category fraud), Lead is the strongest category and SPC (likely to distribute, as usual with Pedro) is going to really double the efforts to fulfill the promise of Pain and Glory being this year's Roma.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

I forgot... re: Supporting Actress... I think that Eisabeth Moss (Us), Penelope Cruz (Pain & Glory) and Anna Paquin (The Irishman) have all three really strong shots at the nom. Paquin might win, given the cast she's against, who directs, her talent and that it'll be her 2nd nom in... 26 years, despite having shown consistent talent and a solid career in both TV and Cinema, and worked with one of the most impressive list of filmmakers, to her age... Campion, Spielberg, Zefirelli, van Sant, Ballard, Spike Lee, Singer.. and now, Marty.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

I want Ian McKellen to win an Oscar and he actually might.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

We've actually seen three Oscar winners as the Joker - Nicholson, Ledger, and Leto.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Depending on their screen time the guys from THe Last Black Man in San Francisco could surprise

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Can we just fast forward to Macbeth and Denzel's third Oscar? These current tiers already bore me. In fact, my number one pick for best actor hasn't won since 2009, so I've been over this category for a while.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

come on. Ben Affleck is not gonna get nominated for Acting.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermj

My initial hunch is that Egerton won't get in in the same way largely because Elton John hasn't died. Oscar still loves it's gay men (especially historically significant gay men) with an element of tragedy; Bohemian Rhapsody, Milk, The Imitation Game, Dallas Buyers Club, A Single Man, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Beginners.

In the past ten years the only gay male characters nominated that haven't died or found out they will die soon on screen are Don Shirley from Green Book (who nevertheless still died in a credits title card), and the two main exceptions Chalamet in CMByN and Jenkins in TSoW (both original characters).

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Dykes

The two categories I eagerly await (actress and supporting actress) are always the last ones you do! Aargh hahaha

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTony

mj -- but history is full of people who people thought would never be nominated and then were. The "surprise" narrative is all over Oscar history. He'll just have to be really good in it and for the movie to touch them. Which doesn't seem impossible to me but we'll see.

April 16, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Reading the synopsis for Torrance I don't think the Affleck non-believers have anything to worry about. They never Sandra Bullock the men.

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

@Me- He's not he's just British

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

@Tom G. - Australian, thank you. :-)

@mj - need to remind you that he's already won a major acting award, the Volpi Cup at Venice, which (before you try and disparage it) (a) IS a major award (even if it is not widely known), and (b.) is very highly regarded by actors (recent winners include Willem Dafoe and Olivia Colman (for this year's Oscar-nommed performances), Charlotte Rampling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Fassbender. Historical winners include Marcello Mastroianni, Massimo Troissi, Peggy Ashcroft, Geraldine James, George Burns and Liv Ullmann. So in good compamy there.)

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

You completely ignored the Anthony McCarten factor. He wrote the biopic scripts that gave Eddie Redmayne, Gary Oldman, and Rami Malek wins in this category.

This year he has THE POPE, which makes this a 2-man race between Jonathan Pryce (as Pope Francis) and Anthony Hopkins (as Pope Benedict).

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity

stoked Mckellen has a seemingly oscar caliber role

April 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

My guesses would be:

Christian Bale, FORD v FERRARI
Antonio Banderas, PAIN AND GLORY
Taron Egerton, ROCKETMAN
Joaquin Phoenix, JOKER
Spolier: Adam Driver, THE REPORT

But of course, this far out - who knows?!

April 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Both Rocketman and Joker trailers were terrific, and the acting seems too focused on both leads. Kaluuya should've nominated last year. He was terrific in Widows (and way better than in Get Out). The Irishman is going to be pushed by Netflix. If the reviews are good, he's easily going to be nominated. It's so early. I need someone to save these predictions to compare to the closest ones to Oscars.

April 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

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