Denzel Washington (Fences) could win his 3rd Oscar while Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) is in the hunt for his first Oscar for Best Actor.
For the longest time, it looked like Best Actor was going to be one of the sure-bets of the night. Until it didn’t. After Denzel Washington (Fences) shockingly upset frontrunner Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) at the SAG Awards, the momentum shifted. The SAGs are probably the best predictor when it comes to the acting categories. However, they don’t match up sometimes. One of those times was Washington winning for Training Day over Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind. Funny enough, part of the reason Washington won was because of a controversy involving his main opponent. More on that later.
However, that’s not the only reason Washington could win. Let’s start with who probably won’t win first.
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) made an unlikely awards season run that resulted in a Best Ensemble nomination at the SAGs, and, of course, an Oscar nomination for him. However, every year there is always the odd man out and this year he is it. His film has no other nominations and is probably not widely seen from the Academy. He’s a popular actor, but there’s no chance he’s beating the frontrunners.
Another nominee that made an unlikely awards season run is Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge). His film, which was also an unlikely contender, nabbed six nominations, including a surprising Best Director nomination for Mel Gibson. While that could signal more widespread support, I don’t think he has enough in his corner to overcome the next three nominees.
In a stronger year, Ryan Gosling (La La Land) probably wouldn’t even be in the conversation. But with the lack of competition and the strength of his film in other categories, he will actually be a strong contender. Plus, the Oscars are suckers for a good musical and La La Land is a great one. While Emma Stone is getting most of the praise – she’s probably winning at this point too – Gosling holds his own. The one thing going for him is that it’s a very charming role. When was the last time a charming role in a movie about Hollywood won? Just a few years ago when Jean Dujardin won for The Artist. He could also be taken along on a sweep if La La Land ends up on a roll come Oscars night.
Then there is Casey Affleck. His deeply emotional performance made him a frontrunner from the beginning of the season. He cruised through the critic’s awards. Snagged the Golden Globe. But then he was stopped dead in his tracks at SAG. Now there are a couple theories. It could be because Washington has never won a SAG Award or the sexual assault allegations are taking their toll on his campaign. While the records from the case were sealed, his refusal to talk about has significantly hurt his chances.
However, there are other reasons for Washington winning other than Affleck’s stumble. The film, which he directed, won him a Tony for Outstanding Performance by An Actor In A Play. The role is pretty much the perfect Oscar role. From long emotional monologues to strong emotional complexity, Washington pretty much has everything he needs to win. He’s also at the perfect point in his career to win his third statue. It’s been 14 years since his win for Best Actor for Training Day. While it’s not quite as long of a wait as Meryl Streep had (29 years), it’s certainly a long enough time to get away from the “it’s too soon” talk. Daniel Day-Lewis only had to wait six years between wins.
I’m going to go with Washington. It feels right and just. However, I won’t be surprised to see Affleck win Oscars night.
Check Out More 2017 Oscar Predictions!
Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
Could Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Dark Horse: Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Should Win: Denzel Washington, Fences