Oscar 2015 Preview: Best Actor

“Nominate me or else.”

Now that the Toronto Film Festival is just about done, and prestige pictures are being released, the Oscar race starts to make some sense. Many films have not been seen yet, but educated guesses can be made, especially in the acting categories.

For Best Actor, Oscar ninnies can use a combination of actors’ track records, the role played, and the quality of the film. Oh, and there’s also the excellence of the performance, but many times we don’t know it because we haven’t seen it.

These five performances figure to be the front-runners headed into the fall. Some will no doubt fall by the wayside if the movie is no good, but two or more seem likely.

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo: Best known as a TV actor, Cranston has earned the Emmy and the Tony, and seems ready to conquer film as well. Add to the mix that he’s playing a legendary Hollywood figure, blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and it seems like a gimme, but only if the film doesn’t slip through the cracks.

Johnny Depp, Black Mass: Depp, who was once one of our best “serious” actors, has frittered away the better part of a decade playing cartoon characters while making millions. In his early 50s, he’s already making a comeback. The transformation into notorious gangster Whitey Bulger, via makeup and other affectations, can’t hurt. My early call is that he will win the award.

Leonard DiCaprio, The Revenant: One of these days DiCaprio is going to win an Oscar. This would be his fifth nomination, and if Depp doesn’t get it he just might. The role is a physical one, of a wounded mountain man tracking down his betrayers. Unless the movie is an absolute bomb, he should be in.

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs: Fassbender is an intriguing actor, and when the material is right, he can be magnificent. So whether he gets nominated as the founder of Apple depends highly on the reception of the film. It certainly has all the earmarks, as the Academy loves guys who play geniuses.

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl: Last year’s winner should be back this year for playing what is thought to be the first man to undergo gender change surgery. This role is grooved for so many Oscar cliches that unless voters figure that he’s already won, he’s in.

A second tier of possibilities: Tom Hardy, Legend; Tom Hiddleston, I Saw the Light; Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation; Michael Caine, Youth; Matt Damon, The Martian.


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

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