This year’s Best Actor race is an interesting one. Four of the actors nominated in the category this year have been nominated for Oscars in previous years, including one of them winning once. The fifth nominee, and arguably the front runner at this point, is a rising star. However, I would argue that there are only two good performances in this category this year. I’m not going to say which two, but in my eyes, it’s obvious which performances deserve nominations. Luckily, all the actors in this category have given great performances at one time or another in their careers, so here are my picks for the best performances from this year’s Best Actor nominees.
Nominated for – VICE
Best Performance – THE FIGHTER
- Christian Bale is one of the best actors working today. His chameleon-like style to lose himself in every role, both physically and emotionally, along with coming out with a movie almost every year, makes him a rarity among actors today. Immediately after I saw him in The Fighter, I knew that Oscar was his. Bale, yet again, loses himself in the role of the drug addicted former boxer Dicky Eklund, the brother of Boston boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward. Dicky means well, but his addictions and arrogance hurt him, his brother, and his family. It’s an emotionally stirring and arresting performance that stands as Bale’s best.
Nominated for – A STAR IS BORN
Best Performance – A STAR IS BORN
- Bradley Cooper has had one of the best decades an actor could have, racking up four Oscar nominations and starring in blockbusters and awards contenders. This was a tough call to make, as I love Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook and American Sniper, but his performance in A Star is Born is just too good to pass up. My favorite performance from a leading man in 2018, Cooper puts his heart and soul in A Star is Born and all of it manifests in his performance as Jackson Maine. This is performance beyond Cooper singing and playing the guitar. He portrays a broken soul who sees the one he loves change into someone he didn’t fall in love with. Cooper utilizes his piercing eyes convey everything that is going on in Jackson’s mind, even if it isn’t what he’s telling Ally. Unfortunately, Cooper isn’t going to win the Oscar this year for this performance, and that is a damn tragedy.
Nominated for – AT ETERNITY’S GATE
Best Performance – THE FLORIDA PROJECT
- Willem DaFoe is a spectacular actor and his nomination this year is a truly great surprise, as I thought he was incredible in At Eternity’s Gate. Last year, DaFoe was nominated for The Florida Project and when I made this exact same list, I said that his best performance was in Shadow of the Vampire. Now, while his performance in Shadow of the Vampire is incredible, his performance in The Florida Project is simply incredible. This is not a showy performance, one of the reasons I think he lost the Oscar last year, but it is as powerful as any performance in 2017. Playing the manager of a rundown motel and trying to keep it afloat, Dafoe effortlessly shows us a man who is must keep his job separate from the relationships and family he has formed in this motel. From fixing the air conditioning to kicking pedophiles off the property, DaFoe never breaks from his character, and the professionalism he exudes as this manager is top-notch, even in the films most emotional moments. I loved Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards, but DaFoe should have won the Oscar last year.
Nominated for – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Best Performance – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
- Um, I guess Bohemian Rhapsody is Malek’s best performance? His filmography isn’t that deep and he was a supporting character for years. I haven’t watched Mr. Robot, though I hear he is very good in it and, if I watched it, it probably would have made the list. But alas, we have Bohemian Rhapsody, a film I do not like at all. Malek is fine in the movie. He isn’t given much to work with, but this is more of an impersonation than a performance. Malek might take home the Oscar for this performance, and if he does, it will be the worst Best Actor win of the decade.
Nominated for – GREEN BOOK
Best Performance – EASTERN PROMISES
- This is the definition of a balls-to-the-wall performance, both literally and figuratively. Mortensen’s second pairing with master director David Cronenberg is a dark, violent, twisted thriller about the Russian mob and a baby. Mortensen is chilling as the mob’s number one. He nails the Russian accent and is an intimidating force whenever on screen. He’s capable of anything and does so in a calm demeanor, making him even more intense. The sauna room fight is one of the best fights I have ever seen and shows Mortensen’s commitment and bravery in the role (I’m still convinced he ACTUALLY killed those two guys). This is the best performance from a Cronenberg movie and Mortensen has never been better.
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