Another in our series of Oscar predictions looks at the Actor in a Leading Role.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Nominees: While there are a few glaring omissions from the nominations, such as Adam Driver’s Paterson, and more to the point, Ben Affleck’s weary, angry Bruce Wayne, the five nominations seems a fair pick. Casey Affleck in Manchester by the sea, and Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic are a good nod to the indy crowd mixed in as they are with the more mainstream fair of Fences, Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land, but while Messeurs Affleck, Garfield and Gosling may all be worthy picks, they’re more likely than not to end up as the also rans in this race.
Who Should Win:
For In Viggo Mortensen and Denzel Washington you have two of Hollywood’s heavyweights going up for the title fight. With Captain Fantastic, Mortensen delivered the kind of performance that ranks as a career best, imbuing his character with both the dark charisma of a cult leader and the strange vulnerability of a man finally having to admit that maybe his choices in life have been wrong. In Fences by contrast Washington delivered something more familiar but still powerful. Whether that will be enough to see him carry off the win remains to be seen. Mortensen deserves to be the front winner where the odds are concerned, not just because he delivered something we’ve never seen from him before, but also because his story feels more relevant to our times. Odd as that might seem, context does imbue itself in the tone of a performance, and in this age of populist appeal and the seeming threat from smiling demagogues on the horizon, Mortensen’s Ben Cash offers more resonance than Washington’s Maxson, which however impressive a performance it might have been, still boils down to a man finding it hard to accept his time has past, or as it’s also known, a cliché.
Who Will Win:
Still Washington’s acting retains an appeal that makes sure it grabs your attention, and the way he easily dominates scenes means it would be foolish to count him out entirely. While Mortensen deserves the win, he may yet find himself eclipsed in the final judgment by Washington whose evident passion and love for his craft have not dimmed with age.
By Gareth Wood