As usual my annual predictions for the official Oscar lineup for Lead and Supporting Actor.
Well for lead actor this is an interesting case where I'd say only front runner Gary Oldman feels absolutely safe. Right now I'm going the SAG five sans Denzel Washington for Daniel Day-Lewis with late comer Phantom Thread, which may or may not have been seen by the SAG voters, however will likely receive a boost from BAFTA either way. It also helps that it is claimed to be his final performance though that should be taken with a grain of salt from the cobbler. Washington should never be discounted though as even though his film was not well received however Washington has never needed his film to do excessively well to get him in. He easily could still find a place only given the state of my other three predictions and even Day-Lewis to a certain extent. Previous nominee James Franco seems poised well enough at his age for a second nomination while also playing a real person, of course if he wasn't playing a real person, well as real as Tommy Wiseau is, it is unlikely this performance would be in the conversation due to its comedic strangeness. That leaves the two youngins, youngins by lead actor standards, Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya, who have both gotten the needed recognition however are still somewhat atypical for lead actor Chalamet directly for his age, Kaluuya for working within the horror genre which is rarely recognized. Kaluuya's advantage is his film doing inordinately well for the genre riding on the same sort of wave that pushed Mad Max: Fury Road, that wave will need to ride high Oscar nomination morning though. Chalamet's film on the other hand did not over perform at SAG suggesting his film may not be as loved by the industry as it was by the critics. He still got in though so it shouldn't be anything too concerning. This is my predicted five, but there is always the "I can't believe ** did not get nominated" that could be anyone except Oldman out of this five. That could be in favor of the aforementioned Washington, Tom Hanks, though besides that surprise NBR win he's being uniformly ignored once again, or perhaps Jake Gyllenhaal pulling what Ruth Negga did last year who came in the last second for a film that seemingly had came and went. Or maybe just maybe Harry Dean Stanton? Probably not. He needed the critics' recognition to give him a boost given Magnolia's track record, but a man can still dream.
For supporting things are not any easier when the SAG five went against a specific trend for the past twenty five years that being no two actors from the same film in this category have been nominated since Bugsy back in 92. This could be the film that changes that as both Rockwell and Harrelson have substantial enough roles the film just needs to be adored on Oscar morning. Harrelson's appearance actually is what puts Rockwell's nomination most into question as he seems pretty safe however I could see Harrelson supersede him in a surprise snub. I'm predicting both though based on the film building up its momentum. Willem Dafoe seems the most safe despite his film under performing at both SAG and Globes. It is unlikely it will do well at BAFTA either which often ignores "fringe" America films, in fact I could even see Dafoe missing akin to when McCounaghey missed for Dallas Buyers Club or when Melissa Leo missed for The Fighter. If it wasn't for Martin McDonagh's West End playwright cred the same could be feared for Three Billboards, but the film has that on its side. Dafoe though is probably in whether or not he makes it to BAFTA. That leaves Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water who has one major problem in Michael Shannon who just last year superseded his co-star in Nocturnal Animals against all odds. The Shannon Shuffle could easily happen again. My final prediction is for Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World. A late comer to both the race and even his own film however his individual praise and the bonus narrative of stepping in at the last minute to salvage his film seems too juicy for voters to pass up. If Plummer was not already an Oscar winner I could have even conceivably seen him win. Of course this still leaves many other contenders for potential upsets. Steve Carell for Battle of the Sexes stayed in the race even as the rest of his film has been forgotten, that is probably worth something, in fact if say Emma Stone surprised in Actress the narrative for Carell is all the better. Then there are co-stars Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg. Internal competition and problematic since neither showed up at SAG, not even Hammer who was nominated for J. Edgar, of all things. Either could show up still particularly Stuhlbarg who has a banner year where he likely will appear in three best picture nominees. Then there are the potential random nominees like Mark Rylance or Ben Mendelsohn who I still say has a chance to show support for Dunkirk or Darkest Hour, but I'd say their chances are gone if BAFTA doesn't support them. Maybe Jason Mitchell for Mudbound, however it seems like he should have gotten in at SAG if anywhere, and the anti-Netflix bias could easily sink that film as was the case for Beasts of No Nation despite its precursor love. Patrick Stewart got a bit of surprising critical support however that doesn't seem enough to overcome the anti-comic book bias. Then there is Will Poulter who is a very unfortunate case of just being in the wrong role, in the wrong film, at the wrong time, despite the praise he received.