Aaron Taylor-Johnson is causing ripples this Oscar season with his scene-stealing performance in “Nocturnal Animals.” We had assumed his cast-mate Michael Shannon to be the likelier Best Supporting Actor contender. Yet, it’s this British import who stolen the limelight and won the Golden Globe over Oscar frontrunner Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”).
While Ali still sits first on our exclusive Oscar odds chart, Taylor-Johnson is now in sixth. While he reaped a BAFTA bid, he missed out one at SAG. However, he could still pull off an upset.
1) Johnson has won an award and has momentum.
Had Ali won at the Globes, the race would pretty much be locked up; instead, the door remains ajar. With no other contender having any real steam, Johnson is primed to be the dark horse. If he wins the BAFTA on home turf, he make up some of the ground between him and Ali.
2) Johnson plays a villain.
Oscar voters love to reward a villainous turn. Hannibal Lecter, The Joker, Hans Landa, Anton Chigurh… just four of many of cinema’s biggest bad guys who have all been handed an Academy Award. Well, the actors who played them have, not the characters (though I’d love to see Hannibal Lecter’s acceptance speech). And three out of those four were in this category. A colourful, psychotic villain is just what Johnson is in “Nocturnal Animals.” Last year, another Brit, Tom Hardy, reaped a surprise bid as nemesis to Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant.”
3) Johnson has a higher profile than Ali.
While Ali has two key roles on Netflix TV series — “House of Cards” and Luke Cage” — Taylor-Johnson is already a movie star. After breakout roles in “Nowhere Boy” and “Kick-Ass” he landed leads in the blockbusters “Godzilla” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” He also has more screen time than Ali, which helps. And remember, Tom Ford directed Colin Firth to his first Oscar nomination with “A Single Man.”
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