By John H. Foote

As if it were not tight enough, the race for Best Actor just got a whole lot tighter with Willem Dafoe joining the hunt for that elusive little golden man named Oscar. With his brilliant, turbulent performance as Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate, Dafoe shakes the race up and makes clear at least two great performances will be left out this year.


If these three men are not nominated, wait for the heavens to open and the earth to shake. They are virtual locks and should be nominated. Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born, Viggo Mortensen in Green Book and Christian Bale in Vice. With Bale, the inside word out of advance screenings is through the roof, near rapturous, the performance hailed not only as his finest but one of cinema’s greatest.

Cooper is terrific as the washed-up rocker in A Star is Born, and Mortensen astounding in Green Book, expect all three to be in the mix.


Expected to pick up the final two spots are Ethan Hawke for his tormented man of God in First Reformed, and Rami Malek as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Either of them could be bumped by Willem Dafoe, joining the race as Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate, and a Favourite after losing last year for his acclaimed work in The Florida Project. I know, it should not matter, but it does.


After TIFF, I thought Ryan Gosling was a shoo-in for First Man, but his internal performance is being passed over for showier work. He could, but it is looking bleak. Not once have I understood the acclaim for Hugh Jackman in The Front Runner, but there is talk, and where there is a spark, there could be a fire.

Two veterans could crash the whole party and shake up everything. Clint Eastwood in The Mule, and Robert Redford in The Old Man & the Gun, if nominated, and they might be, would blow up the whole race.

Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington might be considered for BlankKklansman, and newcomer, fast on the rise Lucas Hedges could be there for Ben is Back.

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