It's sports season, everyone, and I am so excited, in part because the only sports I care about are Scrabble, wine tasting, and, most of all, Oscar predictions. This has been a really good year for men doing acting, in particular; I think Sam Neill's performance in Hunt For The Wilderpeople and Colin Farrell's in the Lobster absolutely deserve nominations, for instance, even if it's unlikely to happen. I've made my professional predictions for 2017 Best Actor Oscar nominations below, based off of a variety of factors such as skill, history, success of the campaign, genre, and more, and I'm pretty confident in my guesses.
I don't mention them below, but some other folks that might get a nomination include Joel Edgerton for Loving (I worry this movie will get skipped over for nominations in general), Jake Gyllenhaal for Nocturnal Animals, Adam Driver for Paterson, and Michael Keaton for The Founder. The world is a mystery and we shall see in due time, but for now, here are my predictions for Best Actor.
Casey Affleck, 'Manchester By The Sea'
Affleck's performance in Manchester By The Sea has been by far the most talked about this year from a male actor. The movie is his from start to finish, an outstanding and Oscar-ready character study, and despite some controversy surrounding his personal life, it's a very long shot to say anyone other than Affleck will win the Oscar.
Denzel Washington, 'Fences'
Without question, Washington will be nominated for this performance. He may also be the only one with a chance to best Affleck and go home with the golden trophy, though it's a long shot. As the lead actor in this adaptation of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize winning play, Washington delivers a powerhouse performance, elevating his craft. He's also freaking Denzel Washington, a superstar and two-time Oscar winner already. He'll get a nomination, but I suspect the Academy wants to give the award to Affleck instead.
Andrew Garfield, 'Hacksaw Ridge'
Many outlets have Garfield down as a shoe-in nominee for Best Actor. He has always been a great actor who delivers natural and often under-appreciated performances, and he's now earned Academy credibility with the combination of an Oscar-ready war biopic, an "acclaimed," if also rightfully disgraced director, and the opportunity to star as a fascinating real person (pacifist Army Medic Desmond T. Doss). If Affleck and Washington weren't contenders this year, Garfield would have a shot at winning an Oscar, but as it stands, a nomination is as close as he'll come.
Ryan Gosling, 'La La Land'
La La Land and everyone involved with it will get nominations for everything it is possible for it to be nominated for. 2006 was the last and only time Gosling got an Oscar nod (for Half Nelson), and he's done so much since then. Yeah, this one's is happening. (But in a race like this, there's just no reason to think he'll win.)
Viggo Mortensen, 'Captain Fantastic'
I'm kind of torn between Tom Hanks in Sully and Mortensen in Captain Fantastic for this last spot. Despite Mortensen's long and accomplished acting history, often playing far more powerful, awards-worthy roles, he hasn't gotten much Oscar love: just one Best Actor nomination for Eastern Promises. It's a pretty classic move for the Academy to throw in a "quirky" nod like Mortensen in Captain Fantastic, though the Oscars also really really love Hanks. Still, I think Mortensen has a shot.
With so many great performances to choose from, this Oscar category will be a truly tough one.