Mon. Jul 6th, 2020

2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions: BEST ACTOR (August)

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative’s tragedy JOKER, a Warner Bros. Pictures release (Photo: Niko Tavernise)

With the fall festival lineups locked in, well, save Telluride (we all but know what’s showing up there though) it starts to make things just a bit easier to predict in some of the acting categories.

Netflix’s Marriage Story is the only film of the season that’s going to hit all four major fests – Venice, Telluride, TIFF and NYFF. That level of exposure and visibility is going to make Adam Driver pretty much inevitable and for me puts him in the pole position for August. He’ll also have Amazon’s The Report in November (15th in theaters then streaming on the 29th) and although that lead performance will pull some votes it’s not going to be enough to trigger any misses anywhere.

Leonardo DiCaprio moves back up with Sony/Columbia’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. While not a bona fide hit (it carries a $90M price tag before marketing), it is only the second original film of 2019 (not based on any IP) to cross the $100M mark. It’s likely to be one of this awards season’s biggest hits and as we saw last year, money talks to the Academy in a way that it didn’t used to as much.

Michael B. Jordan is an actor always on the verge of awards success and he moves back up for me this month with Warner Bros Just Mercy, a true life crime drama about a lawyer trying to free innocent men from death row. WB has toyed around with the date a bit and it’s going to be a very late breaker (Christmas Day) but if they back the film and him, he will become a contender.

Three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is getting closer and closer and lands in my top 10 this month on the strength of Joker (also Warner Bros) landing an in competition spot at Venice. It’s a bold move from the megastudio that shows a lot of faith in this unconventional origin story and comic book take. It will also show up at TIFF a few weeks later. The studio also has Motherless Brooklyn, with Oscar nominee Edward Norton as lead actor and director. They’re going to have to make some really tough choices in the coming months.

Driver’s move up pushes two other Netflix actors down, including my former #1. Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) remains in my top 5 but I may have held onto the ‘written by Anthony McCarten’ thing as a basis for winning a bit too long. Two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro (The Irishman) falls out of the top 5 – I don’t know how realistic that is, or if it’s just crazy.

Antonio Banderas stays put at #3 for Cannes Best Actor-winning turn in Pain and Glory from Sony Classics. That film is also getting a strong fall festival push before its October bow and Banderas, who has never been nominated, is already charming crowds and press alike. Plus, he’s playing (a version) of his own director, Pedro Almodóvar, an Oscar winner in his own right. That’s something voters are really going to love. Banderas also has a supporting turn in Netflix’s The Laundromat to bolster him. He is potentially a stealthy winner spoiler.

While I feel secure that Sony/Columbia will keep Brad Pitt in supporting for OUATIH, there is still much up in the air about what they’ll do with Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. In the trailer, it’s a Hanks marathon and the two-time Best Actor winner is the only featured title card in it. This despite that it’s Rhys’s journalist character’s story. Not quite the same but 20th Century Fox’s Ford v Ferrari has dueling Oscar winners Christian Bale and Matt Damon and I’ve seen pundits with Bale in lead and supporting. We’ll know when we know but I’ve positioned both Hanks and Bale here even though I see them with much higher chances in supporting.

I’ve created a new section called Watch Out For especially for performances and actors/actresses that could very well spoil anyone in the top 10. It holds moves up from Other Contenders and moves down from the top five and Next Up.

Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Actor for August 15, 2019.

Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry

1. Adam Driver – Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
3. Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)
4. Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes (Netflix)
5. Michael B. Jordan – Just Mercy (Warner Bros)

NEXT UP (alphabetical by actor)

Matt Damon – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Robert De Niro – The Irishman (Netflix)
Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)
Eddie Murphy – Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix)
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (Warner Bros)

WATCH OUT FOR (alphabetical by actor)

Hugh Jackman – Bad Education (TBD)
Edward Norton – Motherless Brooklyn (Warner Bros)
Eddie Redmayne – The Aeronauts (Amazon)
Mark Ruffalo – Untitled Todd Haynes aka Dry Run or Dark Water (Focus Features)
Matthew Rhys – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)

OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by actor)

Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Sterling K. Brown – Waves (A24)
Timothée Chalamet – The King (Netflix)
Taron Egerton – Rocketman (Paramount)
Lucas Hedges – Waves (A24)
Daniel Kaluuya – Queen & Slim (Universal)
Ian McKellen – The Good Liar (Warner Bros)
Jack O’Connell – Seberg (Amazon)
Gary Oldman – The Laundromat (Netflix)
Dev Patel – The Personal History of David Copperfield (TBD)
Robert Pattinson – The Lighthouse (A24)
Brad Pitt – Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
Adams Sandler – Uncut Gems (A24)


Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Sterling K. Brown – Waves (A24)
Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse (A24)
Matt Damon – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony)
Lucas Hedges – Waves (A24)
Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes (Netflix)
Robert Pattinson – The Lighthouse (A24)
Matthew Rhys – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony)

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