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2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

The Oscar is Casey Affleck's to lose -- but Denzel Washington is coming on strong. (Updated February 22, 2017.)

"Manchester By The Sea"

“Manchester by the Sea”


Steady as he goes is Gotham, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, Critics Choice, BAFTA and Golden Globes winner Casey Affleck, who carries Sundance debut “Manchester by the Sea” as a capable Boston janitor weighed down by sadness, anger and depression. What happened to make him this way? That is what Lonergan’s precisely crafted movie carefully reveals. While Affleck has delivered many fine performances, often supporting, and was nominated eight years ago for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” he has never taken on such a complex and emotional role.



His main competition comes from SAG winner Denzel Washington, who directs himself in the film version of August Wilson’s Tony-winning play “Fences,” as a Pittsburgh ex-baseball slugger turned garbage man who is angry at the world. He knocks it out of the park. Also helping: Washington is a charismatic movie star who knows how to work the room. And the film is riding high at the post-holiday box office.

READ MORE: 2017 Oscar Predictions

"Hacksaw Ridge"

“Hacksaw Ridge”

Mel Gibson’s bloody World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge” scored with critics and audiences in Venice, who praised Andrew Garfield’s performance as a Pacifist medic trying to save his fellow soldiers on the battlefield; he landed Critics Choice, Golden Globe SAG, and BAFTA nominations. The movie also hit big at the box office. Lending him momentum: six Oscar nominations including Picture and Director for Gibson.

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Breaking out at Telluride was Ryan Gosling (“Half Nelson”) as a singing, dancing, piano-playing jazz man in Damien Chazelle’s audacious reinvention of the musical, “La La Land.” He nabbed Critics Choice, SAG and BAFTA mentions and won the Golden Globe.

The Critics Choice, Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes and BAFTA all nominated “Captain Fantastic” star Viggo Mortensen for his role as a beleaguered single father raising his sprawling brood in the deep forest. He’s an actors’ actor.

1. Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”)
2. Denzel Washington (“Fences”)
3. Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”)
4. Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”)
5. Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”)

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Check Out More Oscar Races:
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Animated Feature

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Steve Merlo

I think it’s a huge crime that you won’t even consider John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane to this list! He is easily in my top five performances of the decade and should probably won about 5 oscars by now! He’s been snubbed too many times and gave his best performance ever in 10 Cloverfield Lane.


    @Steve Merlo, Are you kidding me? One of the best of the decade? You must not watch a lot of movies then. It’s not even being close to anywhere near the best. It might have been his best performance in a movie, but Oscar worthy? You need to sleep off, you sound high.

    @Article creator, Warren Beatty is not the lead actor in Rules Don’t Apply. He’s the supporting actor, he should not be on this list.


    Yeah but this is just how they think the academy will vote, not their list of best performances.

Brandon Thompson

How about Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic?


    Yes! Vigo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic! Why isn’t he on the list?


    Agreed! Watched that yesterday and thought he was phenomenal. Such a nuanced and well-performed role.


“I think it’s a huge crime that you won’t even consider John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane to this list! He is easily in my top five performances of the decade and should probably won about 5 oscars by now! He’s been snubbed too many times and gave his best performance ever in 10 Cloverfield Lane.”

I love John Goodman, but…..are you being serious right now? Do you really need me to list all the reasons why it’s not even close to a crime to predict his performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane won’t even be considered for 0.2 seconds by the academy? Like, you understand the academy has a history of passing up sci-fi horror films unless they have a mountain of oscar buzz surrounding it, which 10 Cloverfield Lane has almost zero? You understand movies made earlier in the year that fails to be a standout amongst other decent genre pieces will be forgotten by the academy voters? You understand why Indiewire has ZERO reason to believe his performance will be among the others listed up there, right?

Juan Pablo

Whoa Tim, chill


    Sorry, it just annoys me when indie wire does all this research into it’s oscar predictions, and some moron chimes in with “where’s (thing only I like)? It was amazing! you’re an idiot for not including it!”


Is there not any buzz around Bryan Cranston’s performance in The Infiltrator? He’s an Oscar waiting to happen!

Robert Holik

I do believe Andrew Garfield will get a Best Actor nomination, not for Silence though but for Hacksaw Ridge


wouldn’t Nate Parker’s chance be critically slimmed down by his rape charge?

The Other James D.

Rules Don’t Apply is going to be garbage. Just one of those out-of-touch gloss

    The Other James D.

    Glossy* misfires.

steven s

well, some actors may be listed up onto Oscar’s Best Actors, but, i disagree with Jake, MacDougall, and Alden. what about Michael Fassbender in “The Light Between Oceans”? his performance is really incredible as a husband, a father, and a man which is in dilemma. and, what about Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic?” i am appreciate how he played his role naturally.


Dev is very likely going to end up in supporting.


Tougher category to call this year. I nver count out the Academy’s love for Denzel so it could happen again. But it could be Casey Affleck’s race to lose even though I cringed at the hammy Boston accents in the trailer. I’m sort of hoping for an upset like Edgerton in Loving or Mahershala Ali in Moonlight.


I hope Jake Gyllenhaal gets a nom for Nocturnal Animals. He was snubbed for Nightcrawler.

Marguerite Fair

I want to see everything out before 12/31, then I’ll make my picks.


@So Many People In The Comments Section… this isn’t a blog guys, they can’t just pick their personal favorite-although it seems indiewire DOES rally around specific movies and performances if there is somewhat of a consensus among the journalists/reporters-performances like Goodman in Cloverfield, Fassbender in Lights, Cranston in Infiltrator, Mortenson in Fantastic don’t have the campaign money that say Fox Searchlight or The Weinstein Company do, they do not have the marketing budget to host events, create advertising media and distribute. The name of the game is to get your project and talent in front of as many academy members as possible, not necessarily the performance, but the TALENT. Public Relations counts for a lot when you’re speaking of consideration and you need a healthy budget to not only make that happen but to make it happen in a way that you can compete with other distribution companies.


Jake Gyllenhaal should be right up there for Nocturnal Animals- his recent performances in Nightcrawler and Prisoners were brilliant on that note Ncturnal is worthy in other categories cinematography,music,makeup supporting actor


    Absolutely! He nailed it!


Casey Affleck for Manchester City and Ryan Gosling for La Lá Land and Meryl Streep “Florence”


What about Michael Keaton in The Founder ?


Viggo Mortinson has been making some noise for Captain Fantastic. Probably want to add him in your next update at least as a Longshot. Also, I think Michael Keaton is still in play for The Founder.


If there’s a duller film this year than Sully, I haven’t seen it.


Rules Don’t Apply bombed, so Beatty should be taken off of the list. He could easily score a Golden Globe nod, but probably not an Oscar.

Keegan Walker


Gustavo Toro

Tom Hanks should be nominated for Sully. He was ignored by the Golden Globes, because the Hollywood Foreign Press hates Clint Eastwood. Remember, the same thing happened to Bradley Cooper two years ago for American Sniper.

    glam glitter

    Not just the foreign press, sag also ignored cooper for american sniper.


What about Ethan Hawke in Born to be Blue???


What about Colin Farrell in The Lobster? He earned a GG nom and was absolutely fantastic!


Nicholas Hoult Rules!!


I decided not to watch the Oscars this year. I am totally fed up with the celebrity culture. I used to be inspired by them but not anymore. Most of them act spoiled and entitled especially when things don’t go the way that they want it to. They end up acting like a three year old throwing a tantrum. These actors have more than most people and yet the world still holds no joy when it’s not 100% focus on them. Finally, I don’t want to watch these actors turn the oscars into a left wing political circus to fuel their personal pc agendas. I am so over their bs.


I usually watch the oscars to get away from the everyday routine and the political Bruhaha. I don’t want to see them trash our newly elected president calling him out as a bully/tyrant when they can’t see that in themselves and behaving like their the experts in everything. Done.


    Okie dokie Vickie

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