It’s not often that two Oscar rivals share a role. Granted, Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Another Round”) play different characters in the films they’re up for consideration for now, but one of the best known roles for both actors is the same. They both famously played Hannibal Lecter.
Hannibal, of course, is the cannibalistic serial killer created by author Thomas Harris and portrayed by multiple actors on screen, starting with Brian Cox in “Manhunter” (1986). But it was Hopkins’s portrayal in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) that made the character iconic. The film won Best Picture at the Oscars, and Hopkins won Best Actor. He went on to reprise the role in the sequel “Hannibal” (2001) and the prequel “Red Dragon” (2002).
That was a tough act to follow, but Mikkelsen became a cult favorite for his interpretation of the title role in “Hannibal,” the series that ran for three seasons on NBC (2013-2015) and explored the character’s relationship with FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) before Lecter was found out and imprisoned for his grisly crimes.
Now they’re being considered for decidedly more sympathetic performances. Hopkins plays a man struggling with dementia in “The Father,” while Mikkelsen plays a teacher in the midst of a mid-life crisis that he tries to cure with liquor in “Another Round.” Of the two, Hopkins is the likelier bet for an Oscar nomination according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users, but they could both find themselves in the running.
As of this writing Hopkins ranks second in our Best Actor forecasts with 4/1 odds, behind only the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”). He has already earned nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Critics Choice Awards, in addition to nominations or wins from film critics groups in Boston, Chicago, Florida and London, among others. This would be his sixth Oscar nom, but he hasn’t won since “Lambs,” which was his first career bid.
Mikkelsen hasn’t made the rounds (pardon the pun) quite as much at this season’s awards events, with a few notable exceptions. He won Best Actor at the Danish Film Awards and at the European Film Awards, with the film also claiming Best Picture at those events. The film has also earned nominations for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, and it’s on the shortlist for Best International Feature at the Oscars, keeping it solidly in the conversation.
Mikkelsen is an underdog in our odds, but as the motion picture academy has expanded in recent years it has become more international, and we’ve gotten multiple nominations for foreign-language performances, including Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”), Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira (“Roma”), and Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), not to mention last year’s historic Best Picture victory for Korean-language “Parasite.” So there may yet be a chance to see two Hannibals rising when Oscar noms are announced on March 15.
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