Early releases in 2018 presented some Oscar hopefuls: Chadwick Boseman buffed his stardom in the lead role in Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther,” while Joaquin Phoenix took home Best Actor at Cannes 2017 as a brutal killer trying to save a young girl from the sex trade in “You Were Never Really Here.” He also gave stellar performances in Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, You Won’t Get Far On Foot,” as well as Jacques Audiard western “The Sisters Brothers.” But the trio of low-budget movies may not have been seen by enough voters and could cancel each other out. And Ethan Hawke earned raves as a melancholy priest for Paul Schrader’s summer hit “First Reformed,” which will need love from year-end critics groups.
Returning Oscar winners could include up-and-down shape-shifter Christian Bale, who gained 40 pounds to play Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s “Vice,” and retiring octogenarians Clint Eastwood (“The Mule”) and Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”); both actor-directors have won Oscars, but not for acting.
Twice-nominated Ryan Gosling also takes on an iconic figure, moon-walking astronaut Neil Armstrong, in Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” while three-time-nominee Willem Dafoe follows up last year’s nomination for “The Florida Project” as bearded Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s “At Eternity’s Gate.” After three acting nods, Bradley Cooper directs himself in live musical remake “A Star Is Born,” opposite Lady Gaga, and Rami Malek channels performer Freddy Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And twice-nominated Viggo Mortensen transforms himself (adding 45 pounds) into a muscle-bound Bronx bouncer for “Green Book.”
Steve Carell could compete in two rival films: Robert Zemeckis’s “Welcome to Marwen,” based on the 2010 documentary “Marwencol” about a designer who creates a miniature fantasy world as a way to recover from a devastating attack, and “Beautiful Boy,” in which he plays the father of a drug addict (Timothée Chalamet).
Remember, no film will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it. Lists in alphabetical order.
Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Ryan Gosling (“First Man”)
Ethan Hawke (“First Reformed”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Clint Eastwood (“The Mule”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
Chadwick Boseman (“Black Panther”)
Steve Carell (“Beautiful Boy”)
Steve Carell (“Welcome to Marwen”)
Hugh Jackman (“The Front Runner”)
Lucas Hedges (“Ben is Back”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Stephan James (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“The Sisters Brothers”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Don’t Worry, You Won’t Get Far on Foot”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“You Were Never Really Here”)
John C. Reilly (“The Sisters Brothers”)
John David Washington (“The BlacKkKlansman”)