By John H. Foote
After winning the coveted New York Film Critics Circle for Best Actor, Ethan Hawke, for his haunted, powerful performance in First Reformed became a contender for the Academy Award as Best Actor. Until that win, Hawke had been on the fringe, but the moment the NY scribes named him their Best Actor he leaped into the race and the very crowded Best Actor race.
It now appears the likely five to be announced nomination morning will be Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born, Viggo Mortensen in Green Book, Christian Bale in Vice, Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody and Hawke in First Reformed. There is still hope for Ryan Gosling in First Man, or Robert Redford in The Old Man & the Gun, but I think the final five are pretty much decided.
In the immediate days after TIFF it appeared Viggo Mortensen would win Best Actor for his tender hearted, always eating tough guy in Green Book. A much-admired actor, a broad big and funny performance, the stage seemed set for a coronation. But then Bradley Cooper just will not go away, and we had the rather astonishing performance of Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice.
The Academy might be loathing to honour a performance so dependent on make up after doing so last year with Gary Oldman as Churchill in Darkest Hour. There is no denying Bale outshines Oldman, his eyes give Cheney no soul. That could open the door for Hawke, a much-admired artist as much for his acting as for his tireless campaigning for film as an art form.
Or they could go completely bonkers and give it to Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, a good performance, but not, I repeat not, a great one. By far the best thing in a rather ordinary crowd-pleasing biopic, Malek could prevail.
Or they may go entirely crazy for A Star is Born, giving Cooper and Lady Gaga the top awards for actor and actress, Best Picture leaving it open to honour Spike Lee for Best Director for BlacKkKlansman.
Or Cooper could just win Best Director, leaving Best Actor for Mortensen, one of the finest and most admired actors in the business.
Or yet again, Bale wins because he deserves to win. His achievement is astounding, he perfectly inhabits this polarizing figure as De Niro did Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980).
Or they go for Hawke.
So, though I think I know who the nominees might be, and there again any one of the five could be snubbed in favour of Denzel’s son John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman, as far as winning goes? And I mean it, any one of the five I state will be nominated could be snubbed.
I am honest enough to say I have no clue. Nobody knows anything.
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.