Is there a more cutthroat category than Best Actor this year? It’s impossibly stacked. The snubs will be tremendous but every performance that makes the final five for Oscar will be well-earned.
I still feel Adam Driver (Marriage Story) is the actor to beat and Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) is certainly going to give him chase in a film that’s probably going to do very well with the guilds and build a path to a Best Picture nomination (which he’ll really need if you’re predicting him to win).
The Two Popes has played extremely well with voters I talked to and if Hopkins is in… By the exact same token, if I have Brad Pitt winning for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood it would be weird for Leonardo DiCaprio to miss out, right? Not impossible, by any means, but still weird. I toyed with it in a recent Frontrunner Friday but I’m keeping DiCaprio in.
Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) made such perfect sense as an easy first nomination back in summer when he won Best Actor at Cannes. But it feels like the buzz on him and the film has been strangely quiet when it should be deafening. Although director Pedro Almodóvar is an Oscar winner himself (Original Screenplay, Talk to Her), he’s only ever had one performance from one of his films nominated (Penélope Cruz, Best Actress for Volver). For both Almodóvar it would be a watershed moment and Pain and Glory is all but assured a spot in International Feature Film and checks off a lot of boxes, so Banderas makes sense here.
Even with all of that, it’s only Driver and Phoenix that feel unmovable. The other three spots are wide open. It could be those three I’m predicting but it could just as easily be Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) or Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) that fill in those places. And hell, what about Robert De Niro? How could I have him out, you ask? I could probably point to Goodfellas, where De Niro missed out but Joe Pesci was nominated and won but that film wasn’t from De Niro’s perspective like The Irishman is. It’s absolutely logical to have him in this top 5 but I still need to see where SAG, the Globes and even BAFTA fall.
I do know this; this category loves first-time nominees. It’s rare to find a year without them. That benefits Pryce, Banderas and Egerton (who’s been campaigning like nobody’s business) in a big way, but how many of them will see it come to fruition is still up in the air.
Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Actor for November 27, 2019.
Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry
1. Adam Driver – Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (Warner Bros)
3. Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes (Netflix)
4. Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
5. Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)
NEXT UP (alphabetical by actor)
Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Robert De Niro – The Irishman (Netflix)
Taron Egerton – Rocketman (Paramount)
Eddie Murphy – Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix)
Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems (A24)
WATCH OUT FOR (alphabetical by actor)
Paul Walter Hauser – Richard Jewell (Warner Bros)
Michael B. Jordan – Just Mercy (Warner Bros)
Daniel Kaluuya – Queen & Slim (Universal)
Robert Pattinson – The Lighthouse (A24)
Mark Ruffalo – Dark Waters (Focus Features)
OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by actor)
Timothée Chalamet – The King (Netflix)
Matt Damon – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Kelvin Harrison, Jr. – Luce (Neon)
George McKay – 1917 (Universal)
Matthew Rhys – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)
Brad Pitt – Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)