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2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Anne Thompson’s early look at the Oscar race includes Gary Oldman, Joaquin Phoenix and more.

Call Me By Your Name

“Call Me By Your Name”

READ MORE: 2018 Oscar Predictions

It’s way too early to make any predictions.

But a scan of upcoming projects yields a long list of Best Actor candidates. They range from such lauded industry heavyweights as Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Gary Oldman, and Joaquin Phoenix, to rising stars looking to get their first Oscar break (Chadwick Boseman, Timothée Chalamet, Jason Clarke, Armie Hammer, Domnhall Gleeson).

“The Big Sick”

Back in January, Sundance broke Chalamet and Hammer in Luca Guadignino’s critics’ darling “Call Me By Your Name,” which Sony Pictures Classics will push hard with audiences and Academy voters. Other well-reviewed Sundance performances include writer-comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Amazon Studios’ “The Big Sick”), Jason Clarke (Netflix’s “Mudbound”), and  veteran Sam Elliott (The Orchard’s “The Hero”).

Darkest Hour

“Darkest Hour”

Focus Features

As always, Cannes and the fall festivals bring the race into clearer focus. While Robert Pattinson won plaudits for his criminal on a rampage in “Good Time” (A24), Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for playing a sad sack hitman in Lynne Ramsay’s Cannes smash “You Were Never Really Here” (Amazon). Phoenix is the latest actor to take on the role of Jesus of Nazareth in Weinstein’s “Mary Magdalene,” directed by “Lion” breakout Garth Davis. Fionn Whitehead wordlessly leads Christopher Nolan’s superb ensemble in immersive World War II epic “Dunkirk.”

Also later on, Boseman, Carell, Cumberbatch, and Oldman are in period biopic mode as young Justice Thurgood Marshall, tennis player Bobby Riggs, inventor Thomas Edison and Sir Winston Churchill, respectively, in Reginald Hudlin’s “Marshall” (Open Road), Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris’s “Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight), “The Current War” (Weinstein Co.), and Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” (Working Title/Focus Features).

“Battle of the Sexes”

And Daniel Day Lewis could well be in the running for his sixth Oscar nomination, reunited with Paul Thomas Anderson in Lewis’s first film since his Oscar-winning “Lincoln.” (Focus Features will release the untitled Annapurna production.)

Below is the long list of early hopefuls we’ve got on our radar. Remember, no one can be deemed a frontrunner until we have seen the film.


Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name”)
Sam Elliott (“The Hero”)
Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“You Were Never Really Here”)
Fionn Whitehead (“Dunkirk”)


Chadwick Boseman (“Marshall”)
John Boyega (“Detroit”)
Steve Carell (“Battle of the Sexes”)
Jason Clarke (“Mudbound”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Current War”)
Matt Damon (“Downsizing”)
Idris Elba (“The Mountain Between Us”)
Michael Fassbender (“The Snowman”)
Richard Gere (“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Fall of a Fixer”)
Tom Hanks (“The Papers”)
Hugh Jackman (“Logan,” “The Greatest Showman”)
Daniel Day Lewis (“Phantom Thread”)
Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”)
Robert Pattinson (“Good Time”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Mary Magdalene”)

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