Besides Best Picture, the awards for Best Actor/Actress tend to be biggest awards of the night. Winning Best Actor/ Actress, follow you. It can get the actor/ actress a bigger paycheck. It can earn them bigger roles, and of course, comes with some prestige. The award itself has tended to be a bit bias. Name power carries a lot of weight. So a more well-known actor may win over a newcomer, even if the newcomer’s performance was more impressive. This is actually seen in both Best Actor and Best Actress nominations this year, as two Oscar Regulars garnered nominations despite maybe not being deserving. Here are the nominations, in both Leading acting categories, ranked, along with some potential snubs, starting with Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
James Franco- Tommy Wiseau- The “Disaster Artist”
Mostly I think the Academy got the nominations right. But Franco deserved a nomination here. His performance as Wiseau, the infamous director of “The Room” was brilliant. He looked and sounded like Tommy. But more than just nailing the impression, he brought real heart to the character. He wasn’t just repeating lines to reference everyone’s favorite so bad it’s good movie, he made us see Tommy in a different light. Tommy is a curious individual. He is erratic, mysterious, but he is human. Now the reason Franco got snubbed, probably has less to do with his performance and more to do with the allegations against him of sexual harassment. In which case, it is probably for the best he was left out. The year before, the Oscars were in a similar situation with Casey Affleck and nominated him anyway. I am not sure if this is a sign of growth by the Academy or just a PR move after the criticism they received the last time, but at least they made the right call. Franco’s performance is deserving of an Oscar, but as a person, he may not be who the Academy wants to celebrate.
Robert Pattinson, Connie Nikas- “Good Time”
Pattison was more than deserving of recognition for his performance in Good Time. His part in portraying a brother trying to save his imprisoned brother was his best yet. Maybe Pattinson is still stained from his time in the Twilight series, which may be one of the worst film franchises of all time, but we should not hold that over him. When he isn’t being directed to play an emotionally dead vampire, he can actually act. He doesn’t have any legal troubles like Franco. Did the Academy miss Good Time? I probably would have never seen it if I didn’t accidentally stumble across it, but I am glad I did. Pattinson doesn’t have the name power to have the eyes of the Academy on him. Had he been in a movie with a well-known director, maybe he would be noticed. But he is an actor who isn’t respected, in a movie made by unknown directors. Not exactly Oscar bait potential.
Hugh Jackman- Logan- Logan ‘Wolverine’- Logan
I did not love this movie as much as others. I respect it for breaking the mold of Superhero movies. I am very happy it exists as another successful R-Rated Superhero movie because too many studios are too cowardly to let a movie be rated R, which is why we have dumb crap like throats being slit in Black Panther with no blood. But I do not think it is some masterpiece. I do however think that Hugh Jackman could have been nominated for Best Actor. It was one of the best performance in a superhero movie since Heath Ledger as Joker. Does he deserve to win? No. In fact, I think Patrick Stewart’s performance was a little better, and he should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. But I would take him over Denzel Washington or Gary Oldman this year.
5. Denzel Washington- As Roman J. Israel, in “Roman J. Isreal, Esq”
Denzel is a great actor, and I am sure he gave a good performance in this movie. The problem is, no one saw this movie. It barely made back half of its budget, and critics panned it. It feels like they were looking for an excuse to nominate Denzel. This is his ninth nomination, his eighth for best actor. As I said before, the Academy tends to give favor to their favorite actors, and Denzel, is deservedly, a favorite of the Academy. But did he really deserve to be nominated for starring in a mediocre movie no one saw? Even if they didn’t want to nominate Franco with his legal troubles, there are other performances worthy of a nomination who are in movies people actually saw and liked. Robert Pattinson for one. Kumail Nanjani could be here. Tom Hanks could be here. Hugh Jackman could have been here. But Denzel got the call because he is Denzel.
4. Gary Oldman- Winston Churchill- The Darkest Hour
Oldman gave a great performance. But I have the same problem with this nomination as I do with Denzel’s. The movie itself is nothing special. The Academy obviously disagrees with me, because they nominated it for Best Picture, but it is a snooze fest. Oldman is good here, but there is nothing that special. Maybe if he was given a better script to work with it would be different. Oldman is an impressive actor. He can blend into any role. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did win, because he is a respected established actor, and the Academy seems to like this movie, I just do not personally think he deserves it this year.
3. Daniel Kaluuya- Chris Washington- “Get Out”
I would be completely fine with Daniel winning. I do not personally think his performance was the best, but it was damn good, and the space between him and the other two nominees is not that big. Horror films are rarely, if ever, the home to good acting, but this movie had fantastic acting, and Daniel was the best of the group. Part of that may be due to Jordan peeles directing, but you cannot direct someone to act this great unless they are a great actor. Everything his character did was believable. You could see the fear, the anger, and all the other emotions as the character experienced them. Was it the flashiest of performances? No, but the role didn’t call for flashy. His character may be one of the most relatable horror movie characters ever. Will he win? Probably not. His performance was very good, but he is also not yet an established veteran of the Oscars. He may not get all the respect he deserves just yet. But were he to win, I would not argue with the decision.
2. Timothee Chalamet- Elio- “Call Me By Your Name”
It is weird to see someone younger than I am, be a serious contender for this award, but here we are. Chalmet has two things in his way to winning. He has the same problem Kaluuya will have. He doesn’t have the respect of the voters yet, and also, he is going up against one of the greatest actors ever, Daniel Day-Lewis. Regardless of if he will win, he is certainly deserving. Chalamet was extremely impressive. This is one of several good performances this year, as I also liked him in Lady Bird and Hostiles.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis- Reynolds Woodcock- “Phantom Thread”
Were I a betting man, I would put money on Day-Lewis winning. Not only was this performance just as good as any of his past performances, but outside circumstances may also influence the Academy. This was his last ever performance. He has retired from acting. The Academy has been swayed by circumstances like this in the past. The gave Heath Ledger the award for Best Supporting Actor after he died. Though Ledger was deserving, the fact Ledger had passed, did have an impact in their decision. I think the same will happen here. Day-Lewis is the most deserving anyway. People call Oldman a chameleon for blending into his roles, well so does Day-Lewis. This was a role like none other before. While he looked like himself, you could not see him in his role. He took a chance with this da, twisted role and knocked it out of the park.
Best Actress In a Leading Role
Michelle Williams- Gail Harris- “All The Money in The World”
I think Williams great performance may have been lost in the crazy drama around this movie. Kevin Spacey was pulled from the movie mere months before its release after the sexual assault charges came out against him. Charlie Plummer filled in at the last second, and he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Then it came out that while Michelle Williams was paid pretty much nothing for the reshoots, Mark Wahlberg was paid millions. Her performance was special though. It is a deep field in Best Actress this year, but she was definitly deseving of a nomination.
5. Meryl Streep- Kathrine Graham- “The Post”
Meryl was good, she is always good. But this is nothing we haven’t seen from her before. This is the 17th time she has been nominated for Best Actress in Leading Role, 21st time she has been nominated overall. It certainly isn’t her best performance. When you are nominated every single year, it is a bit harder for me to be impressed. Nothing about this role is risky. It is a standard role, in a standard movie. Easy for her. I would love to see her take a risk. Daniel Day-Lewis took a risk with his final performance. Can she win? Of course. She is one of the finest actors of our generation, perhaps the best. But I can not give her credit for doing a good job in an easy role anymore. She does it every year.
4. Margot Robbie- Tonya Harding- “I, Tonya”
I did not love “I, Tonya.” There were impressive parts of the movie, but something about the movie felt mean-spirited. I understand it is partly supposed to be that way, but the humor at times just feels cruel. However, Robbie gives an admirable performance. The problem is she is constantly overshadowed by the amazing performance of Allison Janney. I do not see Robbie winning. It is great to see her getting into bigger roles, as she is clearly talented, but her time to win has not come yet.
3. Saoirse Ronan- Christine McPherson- “Lady Bird”
Although I do not love this movie as much as others do, I do love her this performance. There were a couple times where you could hear her Irish accent come through, but that is the only critique I could come up with. Will she win though? I doubt it. Because while she was fantastic, the next two candidates were even better.
2. Sally Hawkins- Eliza Esposito- “The Shape of Water”
Hawkins plays a mute, which adds a level of difficulty to a performance. It takes away a mode of expression. So her facial expressions and body language become key. She manages to give a brilliant performance in this unique love story. What holds her back? Like Robbie, I do not think this was the best performance in the movie. Octavia Spencer stole the movie for me every scene she was in. People have won before despite having a supporting actor steal the spotlight, and she definitely gives a performance deserving of the win, but with the last nominee giving just a tremendous performance, this one may already be settled.
1. Frances McDormand- Mildred Hayes- “Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri”
Even the critics of this movie will agree Frances was amazing. I honestly think this is one of the best performances of all time. Her role as Mildred, the mother pissed about the lack of progress in the case of the rape and murder of her daughter, is simply brilliant. She is given great material to work with and does not let it go to waste. She already took home the Golden Globe, and I imagine will be finding a spot for one more trophy after the Oscars.