The winners in the Oscars’ acting categories tend to match the winners of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which took place last month — which means these categories generally don’t offer too many Oscar surprises.
Luckily, this was a stellar year for acting, with solid-to-great nominees in all four categories (though the absence of Amy Adams in the Best Actress category merits a side-eye). So even if this year’s wins aren’t surprising, they’ll at least be well-earned. Additionally, three of the four categories stand to be won by black performers — a marked change after two years of #OscarsSoWhite — which could make this an unprecedented year for the acting Oscars.
So while the acting Oscars can seem a little anticlimactic after so many months of awards season buildup, there’s still some potential this year for surprising — or at least satisfying — results.
Here are predictions for the Best Actor In A Leading Role – Male category.
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
A lot of people — including me — considered Casey Affleck a lock for this category all the way back to Manchester’s premiere at Sundance in January 2016. And if I had money on the winner, I’d still be somewhat nervous about betting against Affleck, who won a Golden Globe for the role. But sexual harassment allegations against him have dimmed his star a bit, making him less of a sure thing than he seemed a few months back.
Then there’s the matter of Denzel Washington in Fences: Washington won a Tony for the same role on Broadway (along with his co-star on both stage and screen, Viola Davis); he also directed the film, and his performance in it is one for the ages. Plus, everybody loves Denzel, who last won an Oscar in 2001 for Training Day. Plus, he took the SAG Award over this exact slate of nominees, which is a strong predictor for the Oscar.
Will win: Denzel Washington
Might win: Casey Affleck
Dark Horse: Ryan Gosling
Should win: Denzel Washington, whose performance in Fences absolutely nails the audience to the wall.
Let’s wait until tomorrow and see whether our prediction goes right!