This year’s Oscar races are both longer than ever and harder to call: amid the lingering pandemic, the ceremony has been pushed back to April 28 (films released until February 28 being eligible), and the usual circuit of pomp, celebration and pageantry has almost evaporated, leaving in its wake a series of buzz-free projection links.
Still, there’s at least one higher category where I feel right at home for anointing a favorite: In the crowded Best Actor race, Chadwick Boseman has the edge for his outstanding work in “My Rainey’s Black Bottom.” . Providing this great opportunity to recognize the late superstar, Oscar voters are sure to be sure to grab it.
Still, don’t expect a final five that’s just filled with Boseman and four pushovers. This year, the category might be worth remembering, as the familiar faces of the Oscars are vastly outnumbered by youngsters looking to win their first nomination.
What are the names most likely to break through? Here are my projections.
Riz Ahmed, ‘Sound of Metal’
Ahmed has done sensitive support work in films like “Nightcrawler” and “The Sisters Brothers”, but his lead role in “Sound of Metal” is a step beyond: as a drummer with addiction issues who don’t. cannot accept his sudden hearing loss, Ahmed is just overwhelming. A recent Gotham Award victory over Boseman suggests he has things to earn his first Oscar nomination; hope voters also include his wonderful co-star Paul Raci, so moving as leader of Ahmed’s recovery group.
Kingsley Ben-Adir, “ A Night in Miami ”
While this civil rights-era drama (expected Friday from Amazon) gives its four-person ensemble equal weight, the streaming service’s award piece is all about positioning Ben-Adir (playing Malcolm X) and Eli Goree (Muhammad Ali) as the main cast, while Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke) and Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown) are expected to race in the supporting categories. It’s a risky strategy, but Ben-Adir feels like a potential best actor escape: the British future comer has an intimate take on Malcolm X that gives this icon a gratifying human feel.
Chadwick Boseman, “ The Black Background of Ma Rainey ”
While Boseman’s death creates a sense of urgency to honor him, his work in this August adaptation Wilson would have earned Oscar attention no matter what: he’s just formidable in a bold and brash role. which is a far cry from his stoic performance in “Black Panther.” Posthumous Oscar wins are hard to come by, but Boseman remembers Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight,” who had one of his most acclaimed performances at the end of his too short career.
Sacha Baron Cohen, ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’
With Borat’s knack for frenzied parties, a dark horse like Baron Cohen is not to be reckoned with, especially as the debut “Borat” earned the writer-actor a Golden Globe victory and a nomination for the Golden Globes. Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay. The two are very much at stake again this time around, although the momentum for Best Actor Baron Cohen may have been incorporated into his much more likely appointment as a supporting actor to play Abbie Hoffman in “The Trial of Chicago 7. “
Tom Hanks, “News of the World”
A supporting actor nomination last year for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” shattered a nearly two-decade dry spell at the Oscars for Hanks, whose most recent performances have often been taken for granted. If voters default to the big names this year, Hanks will stand a good chance, but his role as a Civil War veteran in “News of the World” is terribly muted and risks getting lost in a sea of suitors. flashy.
Anthony Hopkins, ‘The Father’
Things would have to turn out very badly for Hopkins to miss a nomination: As a patriarch who begins to lose his place in the world due to dementia, Hopkins becomes a late-career cornerstone. (The film is due out Feb. 26.) Roles this good don’t come very often for an 83-year-old actor, and in any other year, that sense of timing could have guaranteed Hopkins his second Oscar. But will voters overlook their one real opportunity to present this year’s award to Boseman?
Delroy Lindo, ‘Da 5 Bloods’
Lindo is extremely convincing as a Vietnam War veteran in Spike Lee’s drama, and the 68-year-old, never-nominated, has been the beneficiary of a major critical push, earning reviews from New York’s top actors. Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Since he’s the only nominee on this list to come out of a summer movie, these continued laurels will help keep him front and center through an Oscar season that will drag on for a few more months.
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Could “Mank” be this year’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, an expensive vintage movie about the film industry that earns a lot of nominations but struggles to convert them to victories? Oscar veteran Oldman certainly serves the kind of performance voters go wild for: every one of his line reads, delivered in a voice that creaks like a screen door, is filled with great choices. Yet the constituents I spoke to respect the film more than they love it.
Lakeith Stanfield, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’
This belated drama about the assassination of Black Panther frontman Fred Hampton will reshape the supporting actor race, since Daniel Kaluuya’s bravery performance as Hampton has the head fire. (The film is due Feb. 12.) What does this mean for Stanfield, the film’s lead actor, who plays a treacherous FBI informant infiltrating Hampton’s inner circle? If the film goes online, the talented actor might be drawn to; While his character’s motivations remain a bit unclear, Stanfield still delivers from scene to scene.
John David Washington, “Malcolm and Marie”
After landing just outside the five finalists for Best Actor in the “BlacKkKlansman” Oscar race, Washington may have better luck with his performance at age 11 in “Malcolm & Marie” (February 5), a quarantine- two-handed shoot in which he plays an obnoxiously wealthy filmmaker who berates his girlfriend (Zendaya) for an hour and 45 minutes. This is certainly the showiest and most talkative performance on this list, although voters may sympathize more with Zendaya as she resists her harangues.
Steven Yeun, “Minari”
Yeun deserved Oscar attention for his artful supporting performance in ‘Burning’ 2018, but voters will soon have a chance to catch up. In the famous “Minari” (due February 12), Yeun plays an immigrant father who moves his family to Arkansas to start a farm, and you feel his pride and frustration even when the scenes unfold with little dialogue. But in a group of thundering monologues, can a performance like Yeun’s break through? Even the independent-minded Gotham Awards snubbed him of a nomination, and his Oscar competition will be even tougher.