As with Best Director, this month’s chart are mostly about how much the winners of the Cannes Film Festival have impacted their respective races, if at all.
For Best Actor that’s Caleb Landry Jones, who won at Cannes for Justin Kurzel’s Nitram playing mass murderer Martin Bryant and the events leading up to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre where he killed 35 people and wounded 23. The film is currently without US distribution but a niche studio could pick it up and mount a word of mouth campaign for the actor. But, until that happens he’ll have to be happy with being on my ‘Other Contenders’ list for now.
Outside of Jones, Cannes also brought the possibility of Amir Jadidi in Asghar Farhadi’s Grand Prize-winning A Hero. He’ll still remain an outside contender and I think it would take quite a lot for him to be able to break through even if Farhadi ends up in the top 5 for directing as I suspect he will. Remember, even though Thomas Vinterberg made the directing cut last season for Another Round, star Mads Mikkelsen, a far better known entity as a performer, couldn’t secure a nomination. Before the rumors of Jones being the Cannes Best Actor winner began on the morning of the last day of the festival, most predictions had zeroed in on Simon Rex for Sean Baker’s former porn star in Trump country dramedy Red Rocket triumphing but that was a no Cannes do. That didn’t happen but Rex has something Jones doesn’t – a killer distributor. A24 can spin magic year after year and could do it again for Rex.
The reveal of the main trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s long-gestating epic Dune was revealed today so it might be time to take previous Best Actor nominee Timothée Chalamet (Call My By Your Name, 2017) a bit more seriously. Acting nominations for sci-fi and fantasy films are hard to come by and even an Oscar favorite like Amy Adams found herself on the outside of Villeneuve’s last effort, Arrival, which still managed Best Picture and Best Director nominations.
Also released this week was the first trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel starring Adam Driver, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon but the moving POV makes it hard to pin down who the real lead of the King Charles VI and Knight Jean de Carrouges story as it pertains to the rape of Marguerite de Carrouges (played by Jodie Comer and who also comes off a lead here). It feels like a non-starter in the male acting categories but could show up below the line.
It was announced last week that all four members of the cast of Fran Kranz’s Sundance film Mass would be pushed supporting by Bleecker Street so that kicks Jason Isaacs out of Best Actor contention moving forward. Unless, of course, the voters decide to put him there anyway a la LaKeith Stanfield and Judas and the Black Messiah this last season.
Here are my ranked Best Actor Oscar predictions for July 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ◊ Black – no movement ↔
1. Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24) ↔
2. Will Smith – King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) ↔
3. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) ↔
4. Bradley Cooper – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↑
5. Adam Driver – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↔
6. Clifton Collins, Jr. – Jockey (Sony Pictures Classics) ↔
7. Christian Bale – Untitled David O. Russell aka Canterbury Glass (20th Century Studios) ↓
8. Timothée Chalamet – Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) ↑
9. Peter Dinklage – Cyrano (MGM/UA) ↓
10. Mahershala Ali – Swan Song (Apple TV+) ↓
Other contenders: Antonio Banderas – Official Competition (Sony Pictures Classics), Matt Damon – Stillwater (Focus Features), Leonardo DiCaprio – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Jamie Dornan – Belfast (Focus Features), Adam Driver – Annette (Amazon), Michael Fassbender – Next Goal Wins (Searchlight Pictures), Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM! (Netflix) Jude Hill – Belfast (Focus Features), Cooper Hoffman – Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson aka Soggy Bottom (MGM/UA), Amir Jadidi – A Hero (Amazon Studios), Caleb Landry Jones – Nitram (TBA), Michael B. Jordan – A Journal for Jordan (Sony Pictures), Jonathan Majors – The Harder They Fall (Netflix), Joaquin Phoenix – C’mon C’mon (A24)