2017 Oscars Preview - Best Actor

2017 Oscars Preview - Best Actor

Here is Part IV of our Oscars preview for 2017. This post covers the gentlemen in contention for Best Actor this year. Last year, the Academy finally awarded Leonardo DiCaprio his much hyped first Oscar. Will they seek to recognize another overdue actor this year or highlight a newcomer? As always, write these names in pencil because it's a little too early to say. Some of these films are just starting production, so a lot could change over the next few months, but at this point, here are the names generating buzz at this point. 

Michael Keaton - The Founder

 Photo Courtesy Of The Weinstein Company

Photo Courtesy Of The Weinstein Company

Michael Keaton has been on fire lately, starring in the last two Best Picture winners and garnering attention for his own efforts as well. Two years ago, his turn in Birdman came up just short of Eddie Redmayne. The internet mourned for Keaton as he heartbreakingly slipped his acceptance speech back in his pocket as his name was not called. This year, Keaton is set to play a certain Illinois salesman named Ray Croc, who is best known as the founder of McDonald's, the international fast food chain. If the movie is quality, there could be a sense that they owe him one after his close loss and lack of a nomination last year for his work in Spotlight. Definite threat to win. 

Denzel Washington - Fences

denzel-washington-fences

His co-star, Viola Davis, may be the favorite in her category this year, but he isn't so far behind. A two-time Oscar winner (Glory and Training Day) and a six-time nominee (Cry Freedom, Malcolm X, The Hurricane and Flight), Washington is an Academy favorite. He is in that Tom Hanks class of actor that is always a threat for both a nomination and a win. He is set to star in and direct this adaptation from August Wilson's famous play of the same name. He won a Tony for this same role already, so expect him to remain in the conversation all year. 

Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea

 Left: Affleck; Photo Courtesy Of Roadside Attractions

Left: Affleck; Photo Courtesy Of Roadside Attractions

Manchester By The Sea received rave reviews out of Sundance that look like they may last all year. He plays a man who returns to his hometown after his older brother commits suicide. The film is said to be great and he and co-star Michelle Williams have been highlighted. He already has one nomination (The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford), so he wouldn't be breaking new ground. Can he beat his big brother, Ben Affleck, to the first acting win in the family?

Joel Edgerton - Loving

 Photo Courtesy Of Focus Features

Photo Courtesy Of Focus Features

It just feels like this movie is going to be good and it just feels like Edgerton is a big part of the reason why. He has enjoyed critical success in a number of supporting roles (Midnight Special and Black Mass) recently and seems poised for a breakout year. Loving is the story of the interracial couple at the center of the Supreme Court case that eventually legalized interracial marriage in the US. Edgerton is searching for his first Oscar nomination, but this Jeff Nichols film looks like it might get him there. The film opens at Cannes next month, with a wider release later this year. 

Nate Parker - The Birth Of A Nation

 Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nate Parker is another potential actor/director combo threat this year, as he was on both sides of the camera for this film chronicling Nat Turner's slave rebellion. He actually also wrote and financed the film, which sold to Fox Searchlight Pictures for a record $17.5M after causing a stir at the Sundance Film Festival. The trailer for this film was just released this week, and despite some mixed reviews early on, this is likely to generate buzz all year.

Andrew Garfield - Silence

 Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Martin Scorcese is at the helm of this one, so it is almost certain to be in the mix in a big way. Andrew Garfield leads a stellar cast in this story of Jesuit priests on a mission in Japan. Garfield is probably best known for his supporting work in The Social Network, but has been a constant presence in Hollywood ever since. This would be his first nomination and will likely depend heavily on how much steam the movie gains over the course of the year. 

Ryan Gosling - La La Land

 Photo Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Photo Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

This one is kind of a wildcard. Gosling is a very popular actor, but his last nomination came ten years ago for Half Nelson. Since then, he has had a number of acclaimed roles, including in one of last year's contenders for Best Picture, The Big Short. This year, he is set to star in an original musical, which is pretty rare as most musicals are adapted from the stage. He is all but assured to be one of the frontrunners for the Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, which could give him a leg up over the more dramatic entries that make up this list.

 

A lot remains to be seen here to clear up this category. Questions like: will the Academy make up for the Captain Phillips snub by recognizing Tom Hanks in Sully? Are films like Passengers (starring Chris Pratt) and Lion (starring Dev Patel) good enough to get their respective actors nominated? Is debut actor Joe Alwyn going to take Hollywood by storm in his first feature film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk? Did Will Smith's boycott of last year's Oscars sway people to take note of his work in Collateral Beauty?

Only time will tell the answer to any of these and your guess might be as good as mine. For now, be sure to check out our other previews of the acting categories linked below:

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

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Potpourri - 4.19.16

Potpourri - 4.19.16

Best Picture Watch: The Birth Of A Nation Trailer

Best Picture Watch: The Birth Of A Nation Trailer