In previous years, the Best Actor category at the Oscars was not as exciting as its female counterpart. However, several worthy performances are vying for a place among the five finalists this year. And while 2021 has been a tough year for the movie world, Hollywood has still delivered plenty of movies showcasing its top male talents.
From the tender performance of Will Smith in king richard energetic turn of Andrew Garfield tick, tick… BOOM!, these artists are the main contenders in the category. Some are Academy darlings, and others are looking to land their first nomination, but all have one thing in common: a performance worthy of Oscar recognition.
ten Cooper Hoffman – Licorice Pizza
Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film is Licorice Pizza, a coming-of-age comedy about Alana and Gary’s relationship in 1970s California. The film received critical acclaim, calling it the most accessible Anderson film to date.
So far, most of the award’s attention has gone to Alana Haim, the film’s lead female role. However, pundits cannot and should not ignore its counterpart, newcomer Cooper Hoffman, especially since the film is a Best Picture contender. It has already received a Golden Globe nomination and voters will be paying attention to the film. Her chances might not look good right now, but stranger things have happened.
9 Hidetoshi Nishijima – Drive my car
The Academy isn’t exactly known for recognizing foreign language performances in acting categories, but Hidetoshi Nishijima might be this year’s surprise. The film, which follows the relationship between an aging actor and his twenty-year-old driver, premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the award for best screenplay.
Nishijima has been a constant presence in Critics ‘Awards, even winning the Boston Society of Film Critics’ Best Actor Award. The Globes and Critics’ Choice have snubbed it, but it could come out at SAG or BAFTA. Even if he misses all the precursors, Drive my car is a shoo-in for a nomination for a foreign language film, which means Nishijima will undoubtedly be on voters’ radars. Enough passion for the film could take him to the end.
8 Bradley Cooper – Alley of Nightmares
After losing in 2019 for his performance in A star is born, Bradley Cooper looks back on the conversation with one of Guillermo del Toro’s best movies, Alley of nightmares. Cooper plays Stan Carlisle, a con artist whose ambition leads him down a dangerous path.
It’s a shame that Cooper is slowly becoming the “always the bridesmaid” of the Oscars. After eight Oscar nominations, the actor still hasn’t won gold. Reception at Alley of nightmares was much warmer than expected, and the movie might not fit into the above-the-line categories. It’s still a Best Picture nominee, and Cooper is at least an Academy darling when it comes to nominations.
seven Nicolas Cage – Pig
Few actors have had such chaotic or intriguing careers as Nicolas Cage. Already Oscar winner for his role in the 1995s Leaving Las Vegas, Cage could claim this year for his work in Pork, the story of a truffle fisherman who returns to his native Portland to hunt down the man who stole his beloved pig.
Pork is arguably the best of Nicolas Cage’s recent films. The actor is now leading a redemption tale that could bring him back to the Kodak Theater. It also helps that critical groups have embraced it, including the CCA. It’s always great when a veteran actor is recognized, and given that Cage gives one of his best performances in the movie, the nomination would be well deserved.
6 Leonardo DiCaprio – Don’t Look Up
It is quickly becoming a rule of awards season never to underestimate Adam McKay. Despite mixed reviews, his two previous films, The big court and Vice received several Oscar nominations; the same could happen for Do not seek, a disaster film about a comet that will destroy the Earth.
DiCaprio plays an astronomer on a media tour to warn humanity of the danger. With six nominations and one win under his belt, DiCaprio is no stranger to the Oscars, and his star power alone might be enough to trump the film’s mixed reviews. Considering the speed with which Do not seek That is, the Academy could also give in to her charms and fill her with multiple nominations, including one for her beloved leading man.
5 Peter Dinklage – Cyrano
Game of thrones is a tough act to follow, but Peter Dinklage is carving out a successful film career for himself, and Cyrano is perfect proof. Based on the 2018 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the classic 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano follows the main character as he helps a young man conquer a woman he himself is in love with.
The Detroit Film Critics’ Society has already crowned Dinklage Best Actor and the HFPA nominated him in the Comedy / Music category. Cyranoit’s hard to resist the decidedly romantic tone of; add Dinklage’s reputation as a well-known and respected actor, and his place in the bottom five is almost certain.
4 Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth
Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s best actors. His long and prestigious career speaks for itself, as do his nine Oscar nominations, including eight for acting. This year, he is in the running again thanks to Joel Coen Macbeth’s tragedy, a new take on William Shakespeare’s classic play.
Despite the lack of victories from critics groups, Washington got nods from the Globes and Critics’ Choice. SAG and BAFTA will surely follow, making his tenth Oscar nomination almost certain. After all, if he could come in for Roman J. Israel, Esq., he can come in for that.
3 Andrew Garfield – tick, tick… BOOM!
Andrew Garfield is on track to earn his second Oscar nomination thanks to his work on tick, tick… BOOM! The film follows Jonathan Larson, a 30-something who struggles to finish his ambitious musical before a next showcase.
Thanks to the success of Spider-Man: No Path Home, Garfield is currently on all radars. The Online Association of Women Critics and Washington DC area film critics have awarded him the award for best actor, and the HFPA will not resist the chance to award him a Golden Globe. Garfield has his place in the category almost assured, and if BAFTA also falls under his considerable spell, the race for the best actor could become even more exciting.
2 Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Without Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch would be the undeniable favorite for his performance in Jane Campion’s The power of the dog. The English actor plays Phil Burbank, a cruel breeder who develops two very different and complex relationships with his brother’s new wife and son.
Cumberbatch has won Best Actor from Critics’ Groups for almost a month, and he’s showing no signs of stopping. Passion for The power of the dog increase, Cumberbatch could even claim one of the biggest prizes, quite possibly the BAFTA. However, only time will tell if that might be enough to translate into an Oscar win.
1 Will Smith – King Richard
After receiving his second nomination almost fifteen years ago, Will Smith is back and ready to clinch gold. The actor, whom many consider to be one of the last movie stars, is the frontrunner to win the Oscar thanks to his tender portrayal in king richard, one of the best tennis films of the new millennium, about Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams.
Smith hits all the right marks to earn a nomination and has the kind of storytelling voters love. It also helps that king richard is a general contender and a certain nominee for Best Picture. Smith, a beloved figure in the industry portraying a beloved figure in sports, has a clear path to victory, and if all goes well, he will hold a golden man in March.
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