Experts’ Oscars 2017 predictions for Best Actor: Casey Affleck (‘Manchester By the Sea’) vs. Denzel Washington (‘Fences’)

After winning Best Actor from the New York Film Critics Circle and being named runner-up by their L.A. counterparts last week, “Manchester By the Sea” leading man Casey Affleck remains far out front in the Oscar race. Indeed, 19 of our 28 Oscar experts derived from major media outlets are now backing his bid. However, watch out for Denzel Washington, a two-time Oscar winner for acting [“Glory” (supporting, 1989) and “Training Day” (lead, 2001)], who directs and stars in “Fences.” Since that film first screened last month in advance of its Christmas opening, he has secured the votes of nine experts and is now in second place.

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Acclaimed playwright Kenneth Longergan (“This is Our Youth”) wrote and directed “Manchester By the Sea,” an intimate drama about a man (Affleck) forced to confront his past when a family crisis requires him to return to his hometown. After its sensational debut at Sundance, the Oscar buzz has been building all year-long. While “La La Land” bumped it out of the top spot for Best Picture, Affleck has remained firmly in first on our overall Oscar odds chart.

“Fences” won the Tony Award for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize back in 1987 and Washington picked up a Tony in 2010 for headlining the first Broadway revival of this August Wilson domestic drama. He reprises his role as an ex-baseball player struggling to provide for his family as does his Broadway co-star Viola Davis, who won a Tony for her performance as a wife whose loyalty is tested. Her recent decision to drop down to supporting actress was a savvy one as she is now the firm favorite in that race.

Oscars 2017: Predictions and odds in all the top races 

Although “La La” leading man Ryan Gosling doesn’t have any expert predicting him to prevail, his support is strong enough that he is now in third place, ahead of Joel Edgerton, who portrays a real-life man jailed for his interracial marriage in “Loving.” Rounding out the top five is two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” 1993; “Forrest Gump,” 1994) for his performance in “Sully” as Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his plane on the Hudson River after a catastrophic bird strike.

See how our experts rank Oscar contenders according to likelihood of winning in all top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see other categories. And see individual experts’ Oscar predictions as well.

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BEST ACTOR

1. Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea,” (2/1 odds)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Michael Musto (Out.com), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Jeff Sneider (Mashable), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Adnan Virk (ESPN), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere).

2. Denzel Washington, “Fences” (14/5 odds)
Erik Davis (Fandango), Tim Gray (Variety), Dave Karger (IMDB), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo!), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times),  Susan Wloszczyna (RogetEbert.com).

3. Ryan Gosling, “La La Land” (6/1 odds)

4. Joel Edgerton, “Loving” (11/1 odds)

5. Tom Hanks, “Sully” (14/1 odds)

6. Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge” (22/1 odds)

7. Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic” (40/1 odds)

8. Michael Keaton, “The Founder” (66/1 odds)

9. Andrew Garfield, “Silence” (80/1 odds)

10. Matthew McConaughey, “Gold” (100/1 odds)

Predict the Oscar nominations now; change them till January 24

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “Manchester by the Sea” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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