It’s starting to look like 2001 again…
20 years ago, Denzel Washington won his first lead acting Oscar for Training Day, and his second Oscar after his supporting win for 1989’s Glory, eking out that win over Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, the Best Picture winner. But someone else was in the mix that night: Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in Ali.
The two now look very likely to spar once again, Washington in Joel Coen’s black & white, expressionist version of Macbeth (The Tragedy of Macbeth) with Frances McDormand and Smith as kingmaker (or queenmaker, as it were) Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends and sisters Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard. This has the potential to be a stellar matchup between two of acting’s biggest powerhouses, with one looking to extend his Oscar-winning history and one looking to start his.
After Sony Pictures Classics pulled off quite a coup here last season and knowing their prowess in the Oscar race, I’m moving up Clifton Collins, Jr. ever so close to the top 5 with Jockey, for a performance that won him the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. No release date has been set for the film yet but I’d bet on it showing up all over the fall festivals including Telluride, TIFF and more, and getting a big push. SPC does also have Antonio Banderas in Official Competition and Josh O’Connor in Mothering Sunday (supporting push, perhaps?) but I feel like Collins will be their main horse in the race.
Last month I was juggling what to do with Adam Driver having starring roles in both MGM/UA’s House of Gucci and Amazon’s Annette. The latter is hitting Cannes but the former definitely feels more like where AMPAS will bite. He’s also got The Last Duel but presumably in a supporting role. This could be his year. Speaking of MGM, who knows what impact the recent buy of the studio by Amazon will have the studio’s priorities or campaigns just yet.
Since last month’s predictions, I’m not quite ready to movie Mohsen Tanabandeh into the top 10 for Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero (Amazon) but so close. If he wins the Best Actor prize at Cannes, he’ll be on July’s chart. Mass has secured U.S. distribution with Bleecker Street, bumping up Jason Isaac’s shot at a nomination.
Here are my ranked Best Actor Oscar predictions for June 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. Christian Bale – Untitled David O. Russell aka Canterbury Glass (20th Century Studios) ↓
5. Adam Driver – House of Gucci (MGM/UA)
6. Clifton Collins, Jr. – Jockey (Sony Pictures Classics) ↑
7. Bradley Cooper – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
8. Peter Dinklage – Cyrano (MGM/UA) ↓
9. Mahershala Ali – Swan Song (Apple TV+) ↓
10. Jason Isaacs – Mass (Bleecker Street)
Other contenders: Antonio Banderas – Official Competition (Sony Pictures Classics), Timothée Chalamet – Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max), Leonardo DiCaprio – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Jamie Dornan – Belfast (Focus Features), Adam Driver – Annette (Amazon), Michael Fassbender – Next Goal Wins (Searchlight Pictures), Ralph Fiennes – The Forgiven (Searchlight Pictures), Daniel Giménez Cacho – Memoria (Neon), Cooper Hoffman – Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson aka Soggy Bottom (MGM/UA), Amir Jadidi – A Hero (Amazon Studios), Michael B. Jordan – A Journal for Jordan (Sony Pictures), Jonathan Majors – The Harder They Fall (Netflix), Joaquin Phoenix – C’mon C’mon (A24), Mohsen Tanabandeh – A Hero (Amazon Studios)