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:
TODD’S EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS – BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Michael Keaton, The Founder
Denzel Washington, Fences
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!