At the Oscars, there is no such thing as a lock. Remember “La La Land”? However, the closest thing we have to a safe bet this year might be Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) for Best Supporting Actor. The previous nominee for “Get Out” (2017) now plays Fred Hampton, chairman of Chicago’s Black Panther chapter in the 1960s, in Warner Bros’ late-breaking biopic. According to Gold Derby odds, Kaluuya has nearly unanimous support to win the Oscar on April 25. Scroll down to see four reasons why you should probably predict him, too.
1. He’s unbeatable (so far)
The 32-year-old British actor triumphed at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, SAG and BAFTA Awards for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Often when film critics and the industry agree on a performance, that’s the one that ends up prevailing on Oscar night. In fact, the past three supporting actor winners all followed the exact same path Kaluuya is on: Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). Everyone loves being on the winning team, so why would academy members go a different way than the one already laid out for them by these important precursors?
2. He is a Revolutionary
Kaluuya gives a rousing, can’t-look-away speech midway through the film that elicits virtual cheers from the audience. Real talk: awards voters have always been suckers for passionate speeches, whether it’s Peter Finch‘s “mad as hell” meltdown in “Network” or James Spader‘s countless courtroom arguments in “The Practice” and “Boston Legal.” There’s just something about seeing a character dominate a scene, in this case Fred Hampton talking to his Black Panthers, that’s like catnip for voters. Kaluuya’s “I am a Revolutionary” speech is so memorable, Warner Bros even used it as the backdrop for the official trailer:
3. “Judas” overperformed
Oscar pundits thought the Shaka King-directed film would earn a small amount of bids, but it roared on nominations morning with six, tying it for second place behind only “Mank.” Besides Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah” reaped bids for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Song (“Fight for You”) and, get this, Best Supporting Actor again (LaKeith Stanfield). That’s right, Stanfield came out of nowhere to earn his own citation, despite being snubbed at all of the precursor awards. It seems apparent that voters loved Kaluuya so much, they also wanted to recognize his scene partner by honoring him with a coattail nomination.
4. The “SNL” bump
Last week Kaluuya hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time and ended up improving on the show’s ratings over the previous host, Maya Rudolph. People who’d grown accustomed to the actor’s serious movie characters were no doubt impressed seeing him make fun of himself, wear funny wigs and adopt silly accents. Kaluuya even joked about racism in Britain, saying, “Basically, I’m what the royal family was worried the baby would look like.” If any Oscar voters were watching “SNL,” there’s no doubt they came away from the experience with a newfound appreciation for the actor’s versatility.
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