Of late, the question of who will win Best Actor only ever brings about two answers: Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”). That’s understandable, given Affleck’s dominance of the critics awards and Washington’s recent win at SAG, which has a stellar track record at predicting the eventual Oscar champ. However, Washington was snubbed by the BAFTAs, which went to Affleck thus giving him another chance to audition for Oscar voters with an acceptance speech.
The two actors shine in sombre roles and are neck and neck according to our Oscar experts. With the backing of 13 experts, Washington is the frontrunner on our Best Actor odds chart, with 1/1 while Affleck, with 12 votes, is a close second at 6/5. Four of our experts — Tim Gray (Variety), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby) and Anne Thompson (Indiewire) — dish the race in the video below.
Unlike any of them, I am predicting a win for “La La Land” leading man Ryan Gosling. I believe he is poised to be this year’s Jean Dujurdin (another music man starring in a beloved Best Picture winner, “The Artist”). Likewise, Gosling stands out from his competition in a much lighter, more comedic role. He may well be swept along by the “La La Land” juggernaut.
I am mindful of the outcome of a similar Best Actor contest 14 years ago when Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”) won right under the noses of Jack Nicholson (“About Schmidt”) and Daniel Day-Lewis (“Gangs of New York”), who had been battling it out the entire season.
Brody won for playing real-life Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski’s heartfelt film. While his win may be taken for granted now at the time, Brody had not claimed a single major precursor. Day-Lewis had won the Screen Actors Guild award and BAFTA, while Nicholson tooh home the Golden Globe for Best Drama Actor. The two even tied at the Critics Choice Awards. With Day-Lewis and Nicholson neck and neck, voters couldn’t decide who to go for and split the votes allowing Brody to sneak up the middle.
Gosling is the Brody of this year’s race. He sits in third with 22/1 odds, way ahead of Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) who are at 40/1 and 66/1 respectively. Gosling is the star of the Best Picture frontrunner, “La La Land,” which is forecast to win at least nine Oscars.
Back in 2003, “The Pianist” came oh so close to winning Best Picture over “Chicago.” Polanski’s film had won the BAFTA Best Picture award and competed at every other major kudos, but couldn’t quite overtake Rob Marshall’s musical romp, which won a total of six Oscars. “The Pianist” did claim two other Oscars: Best Director for Polanski and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Video produced by David Janove
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.