Everything has to go right for any actor to land a coveted leading man Oscar slot. So it makes sense that this year’s award season is packed with returning Oscar perennials.
Trying for another win are Denzel Washington (“Glory,” “Training Day”), who returns to Shakespeare in the powerful title role in Joel Coen’s New York Film Festival opener “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (AppleTV+), and Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”) as charismatic Desi Arnaz, the bonga-banging, philandering husband of Lucille Ball, in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios), set during one intensely dramatic week in the life of the hugely successful “I Love Lucy” show.
Looking good for a long overdue Oscar win after two acting nods is Will Smith (“Ali” in 2002, “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007) as a driven father and coach to tennis prodigies Serena and Venus Williams in Reinaldo Marcus Green’s sports heart-tugging Best Picture contender “King Richard” (Warner Bros./HBO Max). So far he’s won SAG, BAFTA, and Critics Choice, so the Oscar is Smith’s to lose.
Landing second acting slots are two popular British stars deploying American accents: Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”) is a workaholic composer seeking his big break on Broadway in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaptation of Jonathan Larson musical “Tick, Tick, Boom” (Netflix), while Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”) is a surly Montana rancher undermining the wife (Kirsten Dunst) of his brother (Jesse Plemons) in Jane Campion’s western Best Picture frontrunner “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix). Garfield has been keeping a high profile thanks in part to his role in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” while Cumberbatch is back on the Los Angeles circuit.
Nominees are listed in order of likelihood they will win.
Will Smith (“King Richard”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”)
Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick, Boom”)
Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)
Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)