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.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.