We’re nearing the end of post-Oscar week here, and having delighted in the shock win for “Moonlight” and watched the video of the end-of-show trainwreck countless times, we’re ready for an awards-y break. But before we move on to other matters, we traditionally look ahead to help give you an idea of what people will be talking about as Oscar contenders in six months or so when the season picks up again (LOL, it’s really more like two months, with Cannes on the way).
Yesterday, we looked at some of the Best Picture and Best Director hopefuls, and today we wrap up with Best Actress and Best Actor. Last year, we did so-so, calling Casey Affleck, Andrew Garfield (albeit for the wrong movie), Natalie Portman and Emma Stone, but missing some big hitters, and making a few rash predictions too — Oscar Isaac in the dreadfully reviewed “The Promise”! Jennifer Lawrence in “Passengers”!
You can find our long-term guesses below. One thing that’s worth noting is that after a year with seven nominees of color, 2018 could well end up marking a return to the #OscarsSoWhite narrative. That said, we were mostly not anticipating the success of “Moonlight” and “Fences,” so things could change, but it’s a reminder that for all the institutional problems with the Academy, they can only do so much if Hollywood isn’t making a diverse selection of films. Let us know who you’re predicting in the comments.
Timothée Chalamet – “Call Me By Your Name”
It’s fair to say that while Oscar loves a female ingenue — half of the winners of Best Actress in the last 10 years have been in their 20s, and hardly a year exists without at least one bright-eyed young actress picking up a nod — the same doesn’t apply to men. Adrien Brody remains the youngest-ever winner of Best Actor (just shy of his 30th birthday when he won for “The Pianist”), and the only under-25 nominee in the past 73 years was John Travolta for “Saturday Night Fever.” So 21-year-old “Call Me By Your Name” actor Timothée Chalamet has some obstacles even beyond the film’s explicit sex scenes and the fact that he’s virtually unknown until now. But he’s been gathering a ton of buzz for his turn (roles in Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles” and Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” will help keep him front-and-center throughout the season), and this feels like a year where it could definitely happen, making him the youngest nominee since Mickey Rooney. Even if he doesn’t make it, a Supporting Actor nod for Michael Stuhlbarg, who delivers an unforgettable monologue in the film as Chalamet’s father, seems a likelihood even if the film fails to connect otherwise.
Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour”
Until five years ago, Gary Oldman was one of the most prominent actors never to have been Oscar-nominated, until his surprise (and much-deserved) nod for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” at the 2012 ceremony. Now, he feels firmly due for a win, and it’s hard to think of a role that could be more likely to give him one than playing Winston Churchill in this Joe Wright drama (from “Theory Of Everything” writer Anthony McCarten) about the British Prime Minister as he took over from Neville Chamberlain near the start of the Second World War. Oldman’s virtually unrecognizable under an amazing prosthetic make-up job, per the image released so far, and it’s likely to provide plenty of meat for him to tear into. There’s some suggestion that Oldman’s politics, which are thought to lean rightwards, have partially caused his relative lack of luck with the Academy, but we’d suggest that his earlier nod (plus did you see how well “Hacksaw Ridge” did?) shows the lie to that particular idea, unless Oldman goes majorly off the reservation during the campaign. There’s some potential supporting nominations to the film, too: Ben Mendelsohn as King George, or a posthumous nod for John Hurt’s final turn as Chamberlain, and Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife.
Oscar Isaac – “The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara”
Of the current generation of leading men who’ve emerged in recent years, Oscar Isaac is one of the best who hasn’t yet picked up an Oscar nod — Andrew Garfield, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy et. al. have been recognized, but despite deserved buzz for his turns in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Ex Machina” and “A Most Violent Year,” Isaac hasn’t yet been nominated. But now that he’s approaching household name status thanks to the “Star Wars” franchise, it surely can’t be long before it happens, and teaming up with Steven Spielberg on “The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara” feels like a pretty good way of making it happen. Playing the father of a young Jewish boy kidnapped by the Catholic Church sounds like a pretty emotionally potent role, and one with some darker tinges too (the man he’s playing died in prison after supposedly pushing a maid out of a window), and Isaac will undoubtedly more than rise to the challenge. Actors in Spielberg movies don’t always win (none had until Daniel Day-Lewis, followed swiftly by Mark Rylance, who’s also in this and could pick up another Supporting nomination), but Isaac feels likely to at least be in the mix.
Idris Elba – “The Mountain Between Us”
Another great and increasingly famous 30-/40-something actor who hasn’t yet picked up a nod, Elba was widely touted for a nomination for his great turn in “Beasts Of No Nation” a few years back, even winning the SAG award, but failing to pick up an Oscar nod in the end, perhaps because of a resistance to Netflix, or perhaps because non-white actors have to work that much harder to get a nod. So there’s very much a sense that Elba is due for an award, which means that while his new film “The Mountain Between Us” is even more of an unknown quantity than most of these films, he could certainly find his way into the conversation. An adaptation of the book by Charles Martin, it’s a sort of romantic ‘Revenant,’ with Elba as a doctor stranded in the wilderness with Kate Winslet’s writer after a plane crash. There’s certainly plenty of awards kudos behind the film — Winslet’s a previous winner, the script comes from previous nominees Scott Frank and Chris Weitz, and the two-time nominated Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad is at the helm, and Fox have given it a promising October release date. But if it’s more “The Grey” than “The Revenant,” Elba might have to wait a little longer.
Daniel Day-Lewis – Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film
Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor in history to win three Best Actor awards (Jack Nicholson has three, but one’s supporting, and Walter Brennan has three supporting awards) — could he make it a fourth in 2018? The actor’s so unprolific — this is only his 10th film in the last 25 years — that every appearance he makes feels like something of an event, not least when he reteams with Paul Thomas Anderson, who helped him win his second Oscar for “There Will Be Blood.” Of course, we don’t know anything about the film right now beyond its fashion-world milieu, but even the not-very-audience-friendly “The Master” picked up multiple nominations for its cast, and Day-Lewis is nominated more often than he’s not, it sometimes seems. And when he is nominated, he’s won 60% of those times…
If It’s Ready In Time…
Denzel Washington – “Inner City”
As his hilarious stink-face reaction shot suggested, the only person more annoyed that Denzel Washington lost to Casey Affleck on Sunday than us was Denzel Washington. After failing to pick up a third Oscar for a passion project like that, Washington could be forgiven for retreating into studio revenge movies (and admittedly, a sequel to “The Equalizer,” or “Sequelizer,” is on the way), but to his credit, his very next project is more challenging fare than the star often takes, a team-up with “Nightcrawler” writer-director Dan Gilroy on drama “Inner City.” Like the Jake Gyllenhaal starrer, the film’s a sort of ’70s throwback character study about a liberal lawyer in a crisis of conscience, and it could give the star his own “Michael Clayton” (which was directed by Dan’s brother, Tony, and a role that Washington famously turned down, to his regret). Gilroy’s assembling a strong cast — “Moonlight” breakout Ashton Sanders and Colin Farrell are already signed on — but with filming not yet having begun, it may be a bit of a race to get it into theaters in time. If it is, though, we could see Washington back in that auditorium sooner than you can say “Virtuosity“…
Also In The Running
As ever, there are lots more to come beyond that, including some potential heavy hitters. Joaquin Phoenix has two big possibilities, playing Jesus in “Mary Magdalene” (which could be a supporting turn, though the film also has Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim in meaty roles) and in Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here”; while Bryan Cranston could well be back in the mix for Neil Burger’s “Untouchable,” the remake of the French megahit (which could also potentially get Kevin Hart a Supporting nod). Matt Damon also has two possibilities, with “Downsizing” and “Suburbicon,” while Hugh Jackman toplines musical “The Greatest Showman,” and either or both Michael Shannon and Benedict Cumberbatch could crop up for “The Current War.”
Expect a big push from Fox for a history-making nod for Andy Serkis’ seemingly last turn as Caesar in “War For The Planet Of The Apes,” while Jake Gyllenhaal could be back for “Stronger,” and while Javier Bardem might be supporting for Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!,” he’s also the lead in the Spanish-language “Escobar.” Relative newcomers like Demetrius Shipp Jr. in Tupac biopic “All Eyez On Me,” Billy Howle in “On Chesil Beach,” Domhnall Gleeson for the A.A. Milne biopic and Chadwick Boseman in “Marshall” have a good shot, as does Native American actor Michael Greyeyes for “Woman Walks Ahead.” It feels like Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” will have its best bets in Supporting actor, but Jason Mitchell or Garrett Hedlund could get the push in Lead instead. Keep an eye on Sam Elliott for Sundance hit “The Hero,” too.
And of course, there are old hands as well, with Michael Fassbender, Kenneth Branagh, Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Rupert Everett, Jason Clarke, Robert Redford and Colin Firth for, respectively, “The Snowman,” “Murder On The Orient Express,” “Felt,” “Breathe,” “Hostiles,” “The Outsider,” “The Happy Prince,” “Chappaquiddick,” “Our Souls At Night” and “The Mercy.”
Head over the next page for the actresses….