With Tuesday’s announcement of nominees for the 91st Academy Awards, the real race begins. This week, we continue our look at who has the best chances of winning the top prizes — this time, for Best Actor.
Christian Bale (Way up)
For now, Bale is a shoo-in. “Vice,” in which he plays Dick Cheney, netted a total of eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Even those who don’t love the movie concede Bale’s performance as the former vice president is extraordinary. The academy rewarded the actor before, as Best Supporting Actor, for his stunning physical transformation in 2010’s “The Fighter.” They’ll do it again for this picture.
Rami Malek (Up)
“Bohemian Rhapsody” and its talented star have been underestimated every step of the awards season. Everybody seemed shocked when both won Golden Globes, and gobsmacked when the film was nominated for a Producers Guild Award. Its wins so far prove that there’s a lot of affection in Hollywood for this movie, whose reviews were critically mixed. Malek, the only person in this category to have never been nominated for an Oscar before, isn’t the front-runner, but a definite dark horse.
Bradley Cooper (Up)
A lot of coverage around Cooper has focussed on his major snubs: his loss in the best director category to Alfonso Cuarón at the Golden Globes, and his exclusion from that field at the Oscars. But there’s a silver lining for the leading man and director of “A Star Is Born,” who’s well-liked and respected in Hollywood: Now voters won’t be divided on how best to honor him. Being in just one category gives him a leg up.
Willem Dafoe (Way down)
Willem Dafoe is lucky to be part of Hollywood’s starry night. “At Eternity’s Gate,” in which Dafoe plays Vincent van Gogh, never played more than 178 movie theaters at one time. So very few people actually saw the movie, and Oscar voters are notorious for not watching every screener they’re sent. Despite the actor’s acclaimed performance, this flick will be at the top of many voters’ “skip it” pile.
Viggo Mortensen (Down)
Mortensen does stellar work in “Green Book,” and his Italian-American chauffeur, Tony Lip, is totally unrecognizable from his “Lord of the Rings” days. But he’s racked up very few nominations for this role and just one big win, from the National Board of Review. Add in his November controversy when he said the N-word during a Q&A session, and his chances of Oscar victory look minuscule.
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