Best Actor is always a tricky one, especially this early on. With films yet to be released, and public embarrassments yet to happen, no one can really be sure who will get the nominations. I have tried to predict them
As I see it, there are at least seventeen contenders.
Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt may have to duke it out for a place in “The Assassination of Jessie James”, but these types of films (think Terrence Malick-esque) never really do well in the acting categories.
“Reservation Road” was going to be a big contender, but advance word was not good at all with some saying Joaqiun Pheonix was nearly unwatchable (yikes!).
We also have another film with two possible Best Actors in it, Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster”. Denzel Washington has the juicier role, but never rule out Russell Crowe. My only thought is that another gangster film so soon after “The Departed” may fall a little flat. Also Ridley Scott has not shown greatness for some time. It also seems that the gangster place may already be filled by Viggo Mortensons much heralded performance for “Eastern Promises”.
This brings us next to Richard Gere who has career best notices for two roles, one “The Hoax” came and went, and the fate looks similar for “The Hunting Party”, a pity as he is overdue.
Can Phillip Seymour Hoffman repeat Oscar glory with “The Savages”? Advance word seem likely, but he could easily get lost in a year full of important and ‘political’ films.
Films like “In the Valley of Elah” which will get Tommy Lee Jones a nomination, and “Grace is Gone” which looks to do the same for the long ignored John Cusack. We also have George Clooney impressing in the corporate thriller “Michael Clayton” and Christian Bale has already impressed for his POW performance in “Rescue Dawn”
Then you throw into the mix James McAvoy’s sensitive and majestic performance in “Atonement”. He impressed last year in his “supporting” role in “The Last King of Scotland”, and may have just missed a nomination. Expect this to be rectified this year (If this doesn't happen I will be very very angry Academy members!!! Consider that a warning).
Also we have a man who is a truly amazing actor in the race this year. Daniel Day Lewis makes few movies, but when he does, other actors need to watch out! His turn in “There Will Be Blood” certainly looks as impressive as anything he has ever done before.
Lastly we have three actors who we have heard nothing of or seen nothing of their performances. Khalid Abdalia has a very iconic role in a much beloved book with “The Kite Runner”. Can he pull it off? More importantly can he over come the race/foreigner factor?
Can Johnny Depp sing? We all are waiting to find out with “Sweeney Todd” but as I say…the man got a nomination for a Disney ride.....why doubt him now.
Same for Tom Hanks in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, but he has fallen out of Academy favor as of late, and is it me or does he just not seem to be trying anymore?
What this tells us is that there is no way to see which way the Academy will vote. Like sheep they will most likely go with popular opinion, but they have also been know to throw a few curve balls. This is very exciting stuff!
However you can probably tale this away with you.
The Academy does not shy away from nominating political/controversal films/performances. They do sometimes like to send a message. Remember these are movie people we are talking about, they like to think they can control the government.
Do not be surprised to see nominations for "Charllie Wilson's War", "The Kite Runner", "Michael Clayton", "Grace is Gone", "In the Valley of Elah" and "Rescue Dawn", and be even less surprised to see "Atonement" possible sweep them all.....it most likely will be the least offensive of them all (this is not a knock to the film at all) and the easiest to vote for - remember the year the Academy "Crash"ed?
The constantly make some of the worst errors in judgement (pictured) by trying not to be offensive at all.
Nominate liberally...vote conservatively.