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Our Oscar predictions for 2018’s Best Actor


Awards season is officially upon us with the recent announcement of the Golden Globe nominations. With that in mind, and with talk of the 2018 Academy Awards starting to ramp up, we thought we'd present our tips for the Best Actor category, ranking the candidates from most to least likely to win.

Gary Oldman

The movie Darkest Hour

Chance of winning the Oscar 90%

Amazingly the versatile Oldman has only ever been Oscar nominated once before, for 2011 espionage drama Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in which he disappeared inside the role of the introverted intelligence agent George Smiley. This was an intriguing turnaround for an actor who gathered significant acclaim in the 90s for transformative roles in the likes of True Romance and Leon. That said, Oldman has gone sensitive before, as the noble commissioner Jim Gordon in the Dark Knight trilogy.

Upcoming Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour looks to combine all we love about Oldman's acting. He's unrecognisable (shades of his chilling role as the murderous Mason Verger in Hannibal), he's playing a real person (again he's got form, having played Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK) and he gets to enjoy some volcanic moments of shouting (just look at Leon for that).

Oldman has been Golden Globe-nominated for the role and has also hoovered up a selection of other awards, as well as widespread critical acclaim. He's always been considered as something of a Hollywood maverick and outsider, and the Oscars love nothing more than to recognise an industry veteran overdue their place in the spotlight. 1985's Cocoon, for example, saw matinee idol Don Ameche land an Oscar at the age of 77.

Even so, Oldman's got some stiff competition...

Timothee Chalamet

The movie Call Me By Your Name

Chance of winning the Oscar 70%

While Gary Oldman stands every chance of being recognised, the Academy could also skew younger, awarding a brilliant young actor on the rise. Timothee Chalamet is that person, having excelled in moving romantic drama Call Me By Your Name from director Luca Guadagnino.

Adapted from the novel by Andre Aciman, the film is a sensitively observed, hazily nostalgic account of a life-changing 1980s romance between bookish Elio (Chalamet) and the much older research assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer). Playing out against the sun-baked climes of northern Italy, Call Me By Your Name has been hailed as one of 2017's most emotional and engrossing dramas.

Like Oldman, Chalamet has nabbed a Golden Globe nomination. He also recently seized Best Actor at both the New York Film Critics Circle awards and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards from under Oldman's nose. Much attention is paid to industry awards such as these, which often steer an actor's Oscar chances in their favour. Given the critical adoration that has greeted the movie as a whole, he's currently the actor neck and neck with Oldman for the top prize.

Daniel Day-Lewis

The movie Phantom Thread

Chance of winning the Oscar 50%

If we're talking about transformative actors, they rarely come more intense or committed than Daniel Day-Lewis. In a remarkable screen career dating back to the 1980s, he's stunned in a variety of real-life depictions, nabbing Academy Awards for portraying disabled author Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot and Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

That's not including his other Oscar for playing sociopathic oil prospector Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, a testament to his ferocious screen presence if ever there was one. Add in collaborations with the likes of Martin Scorsese (The Age of Innocence; Gangs of New York) and his further collaborations with Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father; The Boxer) and you have one of the most distinguished portfolios of all time.

His next (and reportedly final) film, Phantom Thread, sees him reunite with Paul Thomas Anderson. Critical raves have been rolling in for the actor's portrayal of a repressed English dressmaker with a seriously dark side, and he's also been Golden Globe-nominated. Day-Lewis has also received accolades and nominations for many noted industry prizes, including the Detroit Film Critics Society and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.

However, he's yet to translate those nominations into wins and the deck may be stacked against him, given he's already won three Oscars and both Oldman and Chalamet have none. The Academy is rarely one to award more than three of their prizes to the same actor (the exception being Katherine Hepburn who grabbed four), so if Day-Lewis does win, we reckon it'll be more in recognition of an astonishing career.

Daniel Kaluuya

The movie Get Out

Chance of winning the Oscar 40%

If both Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis are firmly established as Hollywood acting gods, then Britain's Daniel Kaluuya, like Timothee Chalamet, is a harbinger of the terrific performers rising through the ranks.

Also like Chalamet, it may be harder for Kaluuya to establish his awards credentials in the face of such hefty competition, but then we should really consider the extraordinary film he's part of. The movie in question is Get Out, the race-fuelled horror-satire from debut director Jordan Peele that has been the subject of many a provocative conversation over the past 12 months.

The movie is the story of a young black man (Kaluuya) and his visit to his white girlfriend's sinister family, boldly playing the material as much for laughs as scares. A breakout hit, Get Out is not only a terrifically engrossing piece of cinema but has also entered the popular consciousness, embodying the troubled times we live in and provoking deep questions about human behaviour.

It all hinges on Kaluuya's confident lead performance as the likeable guy coming face to face with a particularly insidious kind of liberal-fronted horror. Kaluuya has already been established on these shores in Skins and Black Mirror, although he's only recently started to break into Hollywod in the likes of Sicario, so that may count against him. (The Oscars do love a familiar face.)

However, they may be keen to make amends for their alleged whitewashing, in the process also acknowledging the star of a movie that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Kaluuya has already been nominated for a Golden Globe, so watch this space.

James Franco

The movie The Disaster Artist

Chance of winning the Oscar 30%

It's all too easy to recognise an actor for going all intense and dramatic on us, but comedy requires similar amounts of discipline and skill. James Franco both directs and stars in The Disaster Artist as infamously inept filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. The movie brings to life the chaotic production of the latter's notoriously bad 2003 movie The Room.

Franco's performance as Wiseau is superb: not only does he nail his vocal mannerisms and physical movements, he also fashions a complex mixture of sympathy and monstrousness, building a sincere portrayal of a man whose ambition far outweighed his talent. Simply describing it as a comic performance may be unfair but there are some terrifically funny moments and Franco's timing is superb.

Nevertheless, the Academy may consider it the 'light' choice out of the current crop of awards contenders. To play devil's advocate, they do also love movies that reflect on the process of film-making and the difficulties of making it in showbusiness. In the last few years, the likes of silent movie The Artist have richly capitalised on this subject matter to award-winning effect.

Given that Franco refuses to mock Wiseau, instead transforming something regarded as a joke into its own kind of perverse triumph, the Oscars may come calling. It's a tricky balancing act between comedy and drama, and Franco pulls it off brilliantly. His own Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor may also increase his chances.

What are your predictions for 2018's Best Actor Oscar? Let us know @Cineworld.