Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) solidified his lead in the Oscar race for Best Actor with his win at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Jan. 11. For his portrayal of WWII leader Winston Churchill, the veteran actor has the backing of all but three of our 29 Oscar experts drawn from major media. His closest challenger is newcomer Timothee Chalamet who is racking up critics awards for his performance in “Call Me By Your Name.” He has the votes of three of our pundits and is ranked second by 20 of the other 26. (See the individual rankings of the Oscar experts.)
We had thought that Oldman’s strongest competition would be Daniel Day-Lewis who has announced that “Phantom Thread,” will be his final film. This marks his second collaboration with writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson. Their first, “There Will Be Blood,” won Day-Lewis the second of his record three Best Actor Oscars in 2008. Before the NYFCC awards, Day-Lewis was the second choice of 16 of our Oscar experts for this period picture, in which he plays a 1950s royal couturier; that is down to just four as of this writing.
Two other contenders are each ranked second by one expert. Two-time Oscar champ Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) for his work in “The Post” and past Supporting Actor nominee Jake Gyllenhaal for”Stronger.“
Hanks hasn’t been nominated since 2000 (“Castaway”) but that should change this year. The actor has re-teamed with Steven Spielberg (“Bridge of Spies”) for this docudrama which recounts the story behind the Washington Post’s 1971 publication of the “Pentagon Papers,” a series of documents prepared for the Department of Defense about the US involvement in Vietnam after WWII. Hanks portrays Post editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards won an Oscar in 1977 for playing this part in “All the President’s Men”) while Meryl Streep is publisher Kay Graham.
Gyllnenhaal could reap his first Best Actor bid for his heartfelt portrayal of Jeff Bauman, Jr. who lost both his legs in the bombing of the 2013 marathon. Bauman was waiting at the finish line to cheer on his girlfriend Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany). Despite his life-threatening injuries, this 27-year-old Boston native was a key eyewitness whose help proved invaluable in the hunt for the bombers. David Gordon Green‘s film then follows them on his long road to recovery, which entailed grueling physical therapy as well as counseling to come to terms with his injuries.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.