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Friday, January 5, 2018

AWARDS SEASON 2018: BEST ACTOR
A Glittering Field That Will Come Down To Two Names



Denzel Washington as the title character in Dan Gilroy's drama "Roman J. Israel, Esq." 
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Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Friday, January 5, 2018

Best Actor.  In the voting process the Academy will likely look at these male lead actors: Timothee Chalamet, Daniel Day-Lewis, James Franco, Tom Hanks, Daniel Kaluuya, Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis and Denzel Washington. 

The final five will probably see Mr. Chalamet ("Call Me By Your Name"), Mr. Day-Lewis ("Phantom Thread") and Mr. Serkis ("War For The Planet Of The Apes") left on the sidelines.  I suspect Academy members may think that Mr. Chalamet's performance was too raw, Mr. Day-Lewis's too subtle and Mr. Serkis's too obscure.  A sizable number of Academy voters may view Mr. Serkis's creditable endeavors and rigor as somehow inauthetic.  In years to come that attitude may change.

Four of the remaining actors (Mr. Franco, Mr. Hanks, Mr. Oldman and Mr. Washington) have previously been nominated in this category.  Mr. Kaluuya is the lone newcomer.  I'm expecting that the Academy will make a choice between Mr. Kaluuya and Mr. Oldman. 

The Academy may not have an affinity for "The Disaster Artist", with Mr. Franco's performance perfect for the intimate, manic arena of the film he directs but not an especially resonant one beyond that.  Oscar-winning performances usually possess a gravity, stature and weight to them that often rise beyond the film itself.  The Academy loves that kind of towering work.  I'm not sure Mr. Franco's work in "The Disaster Artist" will have sway with the Academy for the reason I outlined. 

Mr. Hanks and Mr. Washington have been nominated and lost with better work than in "The Post" and "Roman J. Israel, Esq." respectively, and Mr. Washington's acting in "Roman" is of the subtle variety less often appreciated by Academy voters. 

Which once again leaves Mr. Kaluuya and Mr. Oldman.  The Academy may be giving Daniel Kaluuya, a relative newcomer, serious consideration for his role as Chris in "Get Out".  What Mr. Kaluuya does within the "conventions" of a horror movie may be easy to overlook.  Until you understand that "Get Out" is not a conventional horror movie at all.  And that Mr. Kaluuya's acting isn't surface. 

As for Mr. Oldman -- he has a number of advantages: he's a veteran white male actor who is respected and has worked with many of those who are likely to vote in the majority older white male Academy.  Mr. Oldman is playing a British prime minister (Winston Churchill) and doing so in heavy make-up -- something the Academy often loves.  Though personally I wasn't a fan of Mr. Oldman's performance in "Darkest Hour" (nor was I a fan of the film), the Academy admires political figures in against-all-odds situations.  Meryl Streep was the last to win an Oscar for playing a British prime minister, and I think the Academy will go with Gary Oldman on March 4.


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