2016 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Day #4 of my first 2016 Oscar predictions brings us to Best Actor and in the past two years, even these incredibly early predictions yielded positive results. My 2014 late August/early September Actor predictions gave us four of the five nominees and in 2015 – three.

We start with Michael Keaton. He just missed out on a win in 2014 for Birdman and has had the distinction of appearing in the last two Best Picture winners (Birdman, Spotlight). It’s likely he’ll receive buzz for this December’s The Founder, in which he plays Ray Kroc – inventor of the McDonald’s franchise.

Denzel Washington both stars and directs in Fences, based on an acclaimed play. It’s been 15 years since he won for Training Day and it could be time to hear his name called again.

Casey Affleck has received raves for Manchester by the Sea. Same goes for Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Readers of the previous posts in the Supporting races know that Moonlight looks to make some noise this season and that could extend to its star Trevante Rhodes.

Same goes for La La Land, which could mean a second nomination (ten years after Half Nelson) for Ryan Gosling. There’s Joe Alwyn in the title role of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the latest from double Oscar winner Ang Lee. Woody Harrelson plays the 36th President in LBJ. Double Oscar winner Tom Hanks is Sully. And so on and so on (I’ve even listed Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool as a possibility… even though it’s extremely unlikely).

This finally brings us to Nate Parker, director, writer, and star of The Birth of a Nation, which received raves on the festival circuit earlier this year. It is impossible to know right now how his recent publicity due to a years old rape charge (in which he acquitted)  and the suicide of the alleged victim plays out in the minds of voters. For now, I do not have him being nominated. Whether that’s because of the serious competition or other reasons is a factor that is sure to be discussed as the nominations draw closer.

Here’s how I have this initial round shaking out:


Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Joel Edgerton, Loving

Michael Keaton, The Founder

Denzel Washington, Fences

Other Possibilities:

Ben Affleck, Live by Night

Bryan Cranston, Wakefield

Colin Farrell, The Lobster

Andrew Garfield, Silence

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals

Tom Hanks, Sully

Woody Harrelson, LBJ

Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake

Joseph Gordon Levitt, Snowden

Matthew McConaughey, Gold

David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom

Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation

Dev Patel, Lion

Brad Pitt, Allied

Chris Pratt, Passengers

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight

Michael Shannon, Midnight Special

Will Smith, Collateral Beauty

Miles Teller, Bleed for This

We’ll hit Best Director tomorrow and then Best Picture!

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