PART 5: THE MALE ACTING AWARDS
The short turnaround 92nd Academy Awards arrive host-free for the second consecutive year on Sunday, February 9th, barely a month after nominations were announced. The pace has added excitement and urgency right on down to my website’s 2020 Awards Tracker. Let’s start calling some winners. This column examines the male acting awards. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
The nominees: Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes, Al Pacino for The Irishman, Joe Pesci for The Irishman, Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Who should be here: Just like the writing and directing award columns before this, some of the better talent and performances of last year hail from the independent film level that is being ignored or forgotten through the power of the big studio spenders. I’d gladly put Zack Gottshagen from The Peanut Butter Falcon in this field as not just a gesture to performers with intellectual disabilities, but because he was damn good. Not me, but the cinephiles out there would clamor for Willem Dafoe for The Lighthouse, especially after being robbed from The Florida Project a few years ago. Give me Kang Song-ho from Parasite in here instead.
Who should feel lucky to be there: Though a respected legend many times over, the elevation of Anthony Hopkins was the surprise here. The opposite of a surprise is going to occur when two fellow legends, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, cancel each other out from The Irishman, though Pesci does have the second most Best Supporting Actor wins this awards year.
Who should win and will win: This is the big-name lock of the night. Any name other than Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood would be a tsunami-level stunner that would take the air out of the Dolby Theatre instead of fill it with hearty cheers. He will give a speech that will be replayed for smiles for years. Has Pitt been better back in the day? Sure, but this sidekick role fit him perfectly and Ad Astra on his scorecard gets to be his backup points in the same manner Little Women will lift up Marriage Story’s Laura Dern on the women’s side.
The nominees: Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, Joaquin Phoenix for Joker, Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes
Who should be here: Those who read my annual New Year’s Resolutions columns on this site know I don’t have a high opinion of Adam Sandler. But, by golly, did he blow the doors off of his cash-checking, sh-t-eating facade with Uncut Gems, finally playing his age and not just another manchild. He and his follow comedy legend Eddie Murphy of Dolemite is My Name could have easily topped this category, if not even winning outright.
Who should feel lucky to be there: Echo what was said for Anthony Hopkins in the supporting spot to what needs to be said for Jonathan Pryce in the lead race for The Two Popes. He was unexpected. By contrast, Leonardo DiCaprio was expected to get his stats padded here even though this role is far less than his past nominations.
Who should win: Writer-director Noam Baumbach made an actor’s showcase with Marriage Story. That is the movie Netflix should have been pushing to wider audiences over The Irishman. In the same wrought and raw way Scarlett Johansson deserves to win Best Actress, Adam Driver can be spoken about with the same respect her on the male half. He is imposing and morosely engaging in Marriage Story. Driver has won nearly triple the Best Actor prizes of the second place contender, but for some reason he’s fading in this last stretch.
Who will win: Skyrocketing out of the most polarizing movie of the year, everyone loves Joker’s Joaquin Phoenix. Ever since he edged Driver at the Golden Globes, he’s been a winning streak snatching the SAG and BAFTA Awards. It is extremely rare (like less than a handful across decades) that the SAG Best Actor winner doesn’t match the future Oscar. I’d love to see Driver, but voters will say he has more career and chances in the future to earn that first trophy.
NEXT: The race for Best Picture!
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