By John H. Foote
With the postponement of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, taking Leonardo Di Caprio out of contention for Best Actor, and Will Smith having no chance for Emancipation given the infamous slap, it is looking like the leanest field of Best Actor nominees since 2001. The performances to be considered are fine ones indeed, but the Best Actress category is filled to the brim with potential nominees, and a couple performances for the ages. The Best Actor race is nothing close to that. Here’s a look
BRENDAN FRASER IN THE WHALE — A great performance from an actor in a rather disappointing film, who a year ago was finished, washed up, black balled for reporting an abuse at the Golden Globe Awards. Darren Aronofsky plucked him for a role here as an obese man struggling to make a reconnection with his daughter portrayed by Stranger Things star Sadie Sink. Brendan Fraser gives a commanding, heartbreaking and profoundly moving performance that will undoubtedly land him in the race. Nice to see him back. The front runner? Right now he is, but can it last? With the growing support for Austin Butler as Elvis? We’ll see.
HUGH JACKMAN IN THE SON — Though I do not count myself a huge fan of Jackman, and that nomination for Les Misérables was just ridiculous, he delivers the goods here with a fine performance that deserves the praise it is getting. No one will ever convince me that he is a great actor, but he is very good here and might be nominated.
AUSTIN BUTLER IN ELVIS — The growing support for Austin Butler’s fine performance as Elvis Presley could push him into the winner’s circle. Having seen the film three or four times now I admit to not being able to take my eyes off Butler as Presley. So good is he that he blows Tom Hanks off the screen. He moves like Elvis, dances like him, sounds like him and evolves as Elvis did with his fame. He might not have the danger Elvis had, but he has everything else. He might just win the Oscar.
COLIN FARRELL IN THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN — As one of two best friends who suddenly are enemies, Farrell does his best work since In Bruges, giving a performance that critics have hailed as good enough to place him in the Oscar race. It would mark the first time the actor has been nominated. He stars again with In Bruges star Brendan Gleeson, so there is magic afoot.
CHRISTIAN BALE IN AMSTERDAM — Co-starring with Margot Robbie and John David Washington, Bale will likely shine bright as he often does. Will he be for nominated for this, or for the next film listed? This film has the larger profile, being directed by David O. Russell, so if I were a betting man, I would say he gets nominated for this one.
CHRISTIAN BALE IN THE PALE BLUE EYE — Bale is a detective in 1836 trying to solve murders with the help of Edgar Allen Poe, portrayed by Harry Melling. Anytime Bale makes a film he is a threat for a nomination, a brilliant, gifted actor who brings honesty to each role he plays. Always exciting he never disappoints but the Academy often does not recognize his excellence. His work in Hostiles (2017) was astonishing but no nomination.
BRAD PITT IN BABYLON — The trailer looks incredible, and Pitt looks energized and as broad and risky as he has ever been. It looks like he is having fun in the film, and when Pitt is on his game, he is among the very best in the business. If the film is half as good as it looks, expect him in the race. Like Paul Newman, he seems to be aging like a fine wine, getting better with each passing year.
ADAM SANDLER IN HUSTLE — After that shameful snub for his brilliant performance in Uncut Gems, Sandler is back with a more thoughtful, quieter performance here as a professional basketball scout who wants to coach but first must deliver the next great player before he gets that chance. Sandler is superb in the film, a really fine piece of acting, but will the Academy ever take him seriously? They should.
DANIEL GIMNENZ CACHO IN BARDO — In what looks like a hallucinatory film from Alejandro Iñárritu this actor might end up in the race for just surviving the film. Let’s wait and see, but it does look particularly wild. The Oscar winning director is a godsend to actors, who shine under his direction, meaning this man could be a bright star when the year is over.
EDDIE REDMAYNE IN THE GOOD NURSE — Will he go lead or supporting? That is the question right now. The Oscar winning actor is chilling as a murderous nurse who has moved from hospital to hospital leaving a pile of bodies behind. He befriends a young single mom portrayed by Jessica Chastain who comes to suspect her friend might be a serial killer, and she could end up on his list. If he goes lead, he has a good chance of slipping in among the final five.
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.