At this stage, there’s one actor to beat: “Darkest Hour” (Working Title/Focus Features) star Gary Oldman as a wily, crusty, and fierce Prime Minister Winston Churchill, using his power with words to fight the Nazis. It’s a powerfully moving and strangely timely performance at a time when strong leadership is in short supply. After winning the Golden Globe and Critics Choice drama awards, Oldman will earn his second nomination and could take home the win.
This year there are fewer Best Actor candidates than Best Actress. They range from such lauded industry heavyweights as Golden Globe and SAG nominee Oldman and Globe nominees Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Hanks to a 21-year-old rising star looking to get his first Oscar break: Timothée Chalamet won both the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics’ Best Actor, beating out his veteran competition, as well as landing the Critics Choice, Globe and SAG nominations trifecta.
Back in January, Sundance broke Chalamet in Luca Guadignino’s critics’ darling “Call Me By Your Name,” which Sony Pictures Classics is pushing hard with audiences and Academy voters.
At SXSW, James Franco earned raves for playing Tommy Wiseau, the real-life actor-director behind “The Room,” the movie within a movie in “The Disaster Artist” (A24); the movie also played well in Toronto and scored Globe and SAG nods. Franco won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice comedy awards, but did not attend the latter ceremony amid allegations of sexual misconduct that broke after the Globes, possibly too late to impact Oscar voting.
Year-end entries include Globe nominee Tom Hanks as newspaper editor Ben Bradlee in Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” as well as Globe nominee Daniel Day-Lewis, who’s vying for his sixth (and possibly last) Oscar nomination, reunited with Paul Thomas Anderson in “Phantom Thread” (Annapurna/Focus Features), Lewis’s first film since his Oscar-winning “Lincoln.”
Below is the (alphabetical) list of contenders. Remember, no one will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen the film.
Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name”)
Daniel Day-Lewis (“Phantom Thread”)
James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”)
Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”)
Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”)
Tom Hanks (“The Post”)
Denzel Washington (“Roman Israel, Esq.”)
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