Lots of first sees this month of major contenders: Bradley Cooper in Maestro, Colman Domingo in Rustin, Barry Keoghan in Saltburn, Andrew Scott in All of Us Strangers, Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers and Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction all premiered at Venice, Telluride or Toronto, putting those ‘good on paper’ predictions to test and all came away with flying colors.
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon remain strong, especially the former as Oppy blew past $900M this month to become the highest grossing biopic of all time, displacing Bohemian Rhapsody. Killers has yet to open and it’s screening oh so carefully, with Apple choosing to skip the main fall festivals and go from Cannes in the summer to the London Film Festival next month before its October 20 wide bow with Paramount Pictures as its distributing partner. DiCaprio could suffer some vulnerability here as the focus has begun to pull from him and heavily highlight Lily Gladstone, both for her performance and the historical context of a Best Actress nomination were she to receive one.
Unless Best Actress, there are actually several contenders yet to be seen and won’t be making any festival appearances that we know of yet, save a surprise announcement from AFI FEST but they already have their Opener, Centerpiece and Closer films revealed so for Apple and Sony to drop Napoleon, for example, seems unlikely. Also unseen and untested are Anthony Hopkins in the still-undated Freud’s Last Session from Sony Pictures Classics (ironically, Hopkins’ One Life played very well at TIFF and is also headed to LFF but still has no distributor), Zac Efron in The Iron Claw from A24, Kingsley Ben-Adir in Bob Marley: One Love (that is, if they tweak that weird February 2024 date and announce a 2023 qualifying run) and the aforementioned Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix.
Last season we saw something happen in this category that hadn’t happened in 84 years – a lineup comprised entirely of first-time nominees. That is extremely unlikely this year with the likes of DiCaprio, Giamatti, Phoenix and Cooper in play (literally all would have to miss) but we do have a great selection of potential first-timers in Domingo, Murphy and Wright, with Christian Friedel (The Zone of Interest), Scott, Efron and Ben-Adir in the mix, and outside shots for Cannes Best Actor winner Kôji Yakusho (Perfect Days) and Teo Yoo (Past Lives).
Here are my 2024 Oscar predictions in Best Actor for September 2023.
- Colman Domingo – Rustin (Netflix) (▲)
- Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures) (▼)
- Bradley Cooper – Maestro (Netflix) (-)
- Leonardo DiCaprio – Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures) (-)
- Paul Giamatti – The Holdovers (Focus Features) (-)
- Jeffrey Wright – American Fiction (MGM) (▲)
- Andrew Scott – All of Us Strangers (Searchlight Pictures) (▲)
- Christian Friedel – The Zone of Interest (A24) (▲)
- Joaquin Phoenix – Napoleon (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures) (▼)
- Barry Keoghan – Saltburn (Amazon Studios) (▼)
Next up: Kingsley Ben-Adir – Bob Marley: One Love (Paramount Pictures) (▼), Matt Damon – Air (Amazon Studios), Adam Driver – Ferrari (NEON), Alden Ehrenreich – Fair Play (Netflix), Zac Efron – The Iron Claw (A24), Michael Fassbender – The Killer (Netflix), Anthony Hopkins – Freud’s Last Session (Sony Pictures Classics) (▼), Benoît Magimel – The Taste of Things (IFC Films) (▲), Mads Mikkelsen – The Promised Land (Magnolia Pictures), David Strathairn – A Little Prayer (Sony Pictures Classics) (▼), Kôji Yakusho – Perfect Days (NEON), Teo Yoo – Past Lives (A24)
Other contenders and/or possible 2024 releases:
- Riz Ahmed – Fingernails (Apple Original Films)
- Jay Baruchel – BlackBerry (IFC Films)
- Jamie Foxx – The Burial (Amazon Studios)
- Gael García Bernal – Cassandro (Amazon Studios)
- Austin Butler – The Bikeriders (20th Century Studios)
- Timothée Chalamet – Wonka (Warner Bros)
- Paul Dano – Dumb Money (Sony Pictures)
- Michael Fassbender – Next Goal Wins (Searchlight Pictures)
- Rafael Federman – Society of the Snow (Netflix)
- Tom Hardy – The Bikeriders (20th Century Studios)
- Ed Harris – Long’s Day Journey Into Night (MGM)
- Kelvin Harrison Jr. – Chevalier (Searchlight Pictures)
- Paul Mescal – Foe (Amazon Studios)
- Josh O’Connor – La Chimera (NEON)
- Agustín Pardella – Society of the Snow (Netflix)
- Glen Powell – Hit Man (Netflix) (▲)
- Matias Recalt – Society of the Snow (Netflix)
- Peter Sarsgaard – Memory (MUBI) (▲)
- Callum Turner – The Boys in the Boat (MGM)
Lead or Supporting Dilemma: Austin Butler – The Bikeriders (20th Century Studios), Tom Hardy – The Bikeriders (20th Century Studios), Teo Yoo – Past Lives (A24)
Without U.S. distribution: Anthony Hopkins – One Life
Photo: David Lee/Netflix