Moderately competitive category, the final five are easily chosen. However, there are an additional five actors who could potentially pull an upset.
AND THE NOMINEES FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE WILL BE:
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH (The Power of the Dog) For his powerful lead performance in Jane Campion’s film he will receive his second best Actor nomination following “The Imitation Game” in 2014.
PETER DINKLAGE (Cyrano) Highly regarded actor should finally win his first Best Actor nomination following in the footsteps of Jose Ferrer and Gerard Depardieu.
ANDREW GARFIELD (tick, tick…..BOOM!) Playing Jonathan Larson as he turns 30 in 1990, a few years before he changed the Broadway Musical forever with “Rent” only to die at age 35 before it officially opened, Garfield is perfect in the role and carries a tune as well. This will be his second Best Actor nomination following his nod for the Mel Gibson-directed “Hacksaw Ridge” in 2016.
WILL SMITH (King Richard) Smith’s feisty performance as Richard, father of Venus and Serena Williams, and instrumental in their success, is the favorite to win. This will be his third Best Actor nomination following “Ali” in 2001 and “The Pursuit of Happyness” (sic) in 2006.
Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) Washington defeated Smith in 2001 with “Training Day” his second Oscar following a Supporting Oscar for “Glory” in 1989 (he has been nominated a total of nine times with an additional Supporting Actor nomination for “Cry Freedom” in 1987, and an extraordinary run of Best Actor nominations for “Malcolm X” (1992),” The Hurricane” (1999), “Flight” (2012), “Fences” (2016) and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (2017). The ninth nomination is as producer for Best Film nominee “Fences”. He is one three members of the “Macbeth” cast vying for a nomination with Frances McDormand and Corey Hawkins highly rated in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor races, respectively.
AND THREE ADDITIONAL CONTENDERS:
JOAQUIN PHOENIX (C’mon C’mon) Playing a radio journalist bonding with his precocious young nephew on a cross country trip, Phoenix could land his Fourth Best Actor nomination and his fifth nomination overall (Best Actor nominations were for “Walk the Line” in 2005, “The Master” in 2012 and his win for “Joker” in 2019 and he was a Best Supporting Actor nominee for “Gladiator” in 2000).
CLIFTON COLLINS JR. (Jockey) The dark horse in this race (sorry!) is veteran character actor Collins who plays a jockey facing retirement because of deteriorating health. Both Clint Bentley’s film and Collins’ performance have won festival praise and, with a strong campaign by Sony Pictures Classics, a nomination (his first) is a definite possibility.
SIMON REX (Red Rocket) Coming out of left-field to win the LAFCA award for Best Actor the form pornographic actor shows that he certainly has other talents (not to mention his rap persona Dirt Nasty), and his charming performance in Sean Baker’s “Red Rocket” puts him in line for his First Oscar Nomination. However, with this lineup, it’s gonna take a lot of work and a lot of luck for him to make the final five.