Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Best Actor Predictions 7/3/13

We are no about half way through the year and the Oscar race is shaping up.  My predictions have not changed too much from earlier in the year, but I have seen a few trailers and reviews.

Of note this year is that no early releases have really caught on.  But the year looks to get a lot better prestige-wise.

The Top-5
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Pros: The career shift of Matthew McConaughey in the past few years has been astonishing.  Last year he was an Oscar contender for his role in Magic Mike and received a lot of acclaim for several indie films.  This year he continues his impressive streak with Mud sitting at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and an HBO series and movies with Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan on the way.  But his best shot at Oscar gold is this movie where he pulls the awards-bait weight loss.  The subject matter is difficult and should allow him to surprise audiences.  His career is in the perfect place for Oscar gold, he could be this year's Ben Affleck.
Cons: A lot is dependent of the quality of the movie, which does not even have a trailer yet.  The movie does not seem to have much buzz outside of McConaughey, best actor winners are often actors in best picture nominees.  McConaughey may receive some vote splits with Mud or get more focus as a supporting actor in Wolf of Wall Street.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Pros: Ejiofor has been a reliable actor for many years but has not had an Oscar bait role yet.  With slavery being one of the main issues of last year's Oscars in Django Unchained and Lincoln, a movie about slavery in America focusing on a slave should hit with voters.  Director Steve McQueen gets great performances from his actors and he should work well with Ejiofor.  This is going to be a difficult film to watch, but if Ejiofor carries it as well as I think he will he should be a frontrunner.
Cons: He has had a great career, but is not a big name.  Also slavery told form the perspective of a black man, rather than a popular white one may be a tougher sell.  Hard to say how this movie will go, definitely a risk.  But I do see Ejiofor being a contender.

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
Pros: Walt won more Oscars than anyone else, how could voters resist rewarding him with a 60th Oscar (although the Oscar would go to Hanks as his third).  Hanks is working his way back to a reliable Oscar contender again having taken a risk in Cloud Atlas (which even though it was not a hit with AMPAS or audiences was a risk) and starring in this year's Captain Phillips.  Hollywood and audiences see both Tom Hanks and Walt Disney in a similar light, Hanks playing Disney should work.
Cons: Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis just received their third Oscars, Hanks may have to wait a while.  There is a chance that he may be a bigger contender for Captain Phillips which could lead to vote splits.  Also a possibility that this role goes supporting.

Forest Whitaker, The Butler
Pros: After his win in 2006 Whitaker has not been in too many hit movies, however he is starting to act more and has a producers credit this year on Fruitvale Station.  This role is pretty big Oscar bait, even though the trailer underwhelmed it is a role that should be perfect for Whitaker.  With so many big actors in the movie the Academy may want to award one.
Cons: Lee Daniels' Paperboy last year was a disappointment, The Butler needs to be good for Whitaker to stand out among this competitive category.

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Pros: The veteran actor took the top prize at Cannes.  Alexander Payne works great with actors and he put a lot into this script, should be a perfect combination of actor, director and script.
Cons: Dern is not that well known and has not had a good role in a long time.  I have also seen Dern rumored to go supporting and Forte lead, suppose they both could go lead or supporting.

Michael Fassbender, The Counselor
Pros: Fassbender has been on his way to an Oscar for the past several years.  With this lead role and a supporting role in 12 Years a Slave he should have enough momentum to get his first nomination.
Cons: Ridley Scott movies have not been a big hit with the Academy in a while and Fassbender seems like more of a sure thing for 12 Years.  Leading actor is very competitive at this stage in the race, Fassbender may get left out again.

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Pros: Despite this year's critical and commercial failure of Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Carell has been a very dependable actor.  Turning in great performances in movies such as Little Miss Sunshine and Crazy Stupid Love.  This is a very difficult role that should play to the actor's strengths while showing him in a new light to audiences.  Being directed by Bennett Miller who got his actors nominations in both Capote and Moneyball definitely helps.  Also with Carell reprising his breakout role of Brick Tamland in Anchorman 2 which is released around Oscar season he should be popular celebrity.
Cons: Comedic actors are not always recognized for drama.  Audiences may not want to see Michael Scott as a killer.  Could be overshadowed by Mark Ruffalo or Channing Tatum.

Robert Redford, All is Lost
Pros: Buzz is high for Redford right now.  This movie came out of nowhere and many pundits are anticipating it to do well.  There is no dialogue or other actors, just Redford on his own, definite similarities to Cast Away.  With much having been written about Redford joining Captain America: Winter Soldier there may be enough good will for the Hollywood legend to make a comeback.
Cons: May be a small release.  In his esteemed career Redford has only received one acting nomination (1973's The Sting).  Dern may get the veteran slot.

Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Pros: Up and coming actor who gave a great performance in last year's Chronicle and is strongly rumored for the reboot of Fantastic Four.  This movie was a hit at Sundance and much has been written about the young actor.  This is a star making role and I expect to see a few accolades from it.
Cons: He is still pretty much an unknown in a category full of established stars.  The movie may not make as big of a splash as people are expecting.

Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Pros: Isaac has been a very consistent actor for years in movies such as Nativity Story, Drive and Bourne Legacy.  Working with the Coens is a definite boon to his budding career.
Cons: Performance looks to be very understated, which does not always lead to awards.  The movie is released fairly early by CBS Films, which is a studio that does not have experience in campaigning.

Also in Contention
Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Michael Pena (Chavez), George Clooney (Monuments Men), Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

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