Best Actor Oscar Contenders 2016

Is it DiCaprio vs. Fassbender for the win?

A year ago, the awards season universe was just realizing that the Best Actor field was headed towards one of the most competitive races ever.  Fast forward 12 months and it appears the ladies are the ones duking it out this season.

There are two major performance unseen, “The Revenant’s” Leonardo DiCaprio and “Concussion’s” Will Smith, but the rest of the field has pretty much been vetted.  The question is whether are two open Oscar slots or none.  Now, before we take a quick look at the current field some quick notes regarding the also rans.

If you think Jake Gyllenhaal is getting in for “Southpaw” save your money for a ticket at the Critics Choice Awards.  Michael Fassbender is fantastic in “Macbeth,” but it’s all about “Steve Jobs” for the Brit.  “99 Holmes” doesn’t have enough heat to help a deserving Andrew Garfield.  I saw “I Saw The Light” and god bless Tom Hiddleston for giving it his all, but that movie is going nowhere. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s accent and “The Walk’s” terrible narration have doomed his chances this year.  “Mad Max: Fury Road’s” Tom Hardy was upstaged by Ms. Charlize Theron and he’s doubled his chances with “Legend.”

As for the real players keep in mind each contender is listed alphabetically in each grouping.

Sept. 30, 2015

The Top Five

Bryan Cranson, “Trumbo”
All that SAG support, all those friends in The Academy.

Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”
In the top five for now, but is it really a supporting performance?

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Will the “it’s time” mantra come to life?

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
If not for Leo your frontrunner.

Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
Good luck finding anyone who won’t give Redmayne a ton of praise for his performance, but does his co-star steal the show?

Almost There

Michael Caine, “Youth”
If Caine could really hit the awards circuit he’d have a shot at cracking the top five.

Tom Hardy, “Legend”
Many critics loved Hardy’s performances (he plays twins) more than the movie itself. It’s done very good business in the UK, can Universal turn it into a hit in the U.S.?

Ian McKellen, “Mr. Holmes”
The legendary star of this summer’s biggest art house hit needs to campaign. Oh, guess what? He’s going to campaign.

Will Smith, “Concussion”
If he can pull off that South African accent better than Gordon-Levitt’s ludicrous French one in “The Walk” he’s halfway there.

Trying To Crack The Field

Steve Carell, “The Big Short”
Little is known about how good Adam McKay’s late entry really is.  So, Carell is an outlier.  For now.

Tom Courtenay, “45 Years”
The Academy will love the movie, but it’s really Charlotte Rampling’s performance that shines the most.

John Cusack, “Love & Mercy”
Paul Dano is probably a better bet in Supporting Actor but with the screener going out this week he’s got a chance.

Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Can’t believe I’d ever write this specifically about Matt Damon, but if he shuts up…he could surprise.

Michael B. Jordan, “Creed”
He’s a tremendous talent reuniting with his “Fruitvale Station” helmer. Possible.

Tom Hanks, “Bridge of Spies”
If he couldn’t get a nomination for “Captain Phillips” how can he get one here?

Samuel L. Jackson, “The Hateful Eight”
Talk about someone who is overdue a nomination. It’s been 20 years since his first nod. Has Quentin written a gift for his most frequent on screen collaborator?

Brad Pitt, “By The Sea”
We’ll know by the first week of November.

Géza Röhrig, “Son of Saul”
If the the Foreign Language Film frontrunner touches a nerve with the Academy in general, Röhrig could benefit more than anyone.

What do you think of this year’s Best Actor field? Share your thoughts below.

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With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios, has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times and co-founded HitFix, Inc. serving as its first Editor-in-Chief and President. Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.
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