Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Bradley Cooper "Joy"
Tom Hardy "The Revenant"
Samuel L. Jackson "The Hateful Eight"
Michael Keaton "Spotlight"
Mark Rylance "Bridge of Spies"
Other Contenders - Idris Elba "Beasts of No Nation", Robert DeNiro "Joy" Mark Ruffalo "Spotlight", Joel Edgerton "Black Mass", Benicio Del Toro "Sicario", Bruce Dern "The Hateful Eight", Kurt Russell "The Hateful Eight", Walton Goggins "The Hateful Eight", Demian Bichir "The Hateful Eight", Michael Madsen "The Hateful Eight", Tim Roth "The Hateful Eight", Jacob Tremblay "Room", Robert Redford "Truth", Sylvester Stallone "Creed", Paul Dano "Love & Mercy", Paul Giamatti "Love & Mercy", Harvey Keitel "Youth", Seth Rogen "Steve Jobs", Jeff Daniels "Steve Jobs", Jason Segal "The End of the Tour", Sam Elliot "Grandma", Tom Holland "In the Heart of the Sea", Cillian Murphy "In the Heart of the Sea", O'Shea Jackson Jr. "Straight Outta Compton", Corey Hawkins "Straight Outta Compton", Jason Mitchell "Straight Outta Compton", Emory Cohen "Brooklyn", Michael Shannon "Freeheld", Steve Carell "Freeheld", Michael Shannon "99 Homes", Liev Schreiber "Spotlight", Matthias Schoenaerts "The Danish Girl", Michael Sheen "Far From the Maddening Crowd", Oscar Isaac "Ex Machina", Michael Douglas "Ant-Man", Harrison Ford "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens", Mark Hammill "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens", Adam Driver "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens", Nicholas Hoult "Mad Max: Fury Road", Lewis Black "Inside Out", Bill Hader "Inside Out"
Commentary - There are plenty of contenders emerging out of the fall festivals, and yet, so far, I am still reserving a few slots for contenders unseen. Two in particular have emerged, in my opinion, straight into the top slots. First is Michael Keaton. After unceremoniously losing last year for Birdman, he is back again with a vengeance. Spotlight has emerged as one of the top Oscar contenders, and this time around he could finally get the Oscar that he is owed. The other one has emerged recently, and it should not come as any surprise. Bridge of Spies is getting a ton of buzz out of the New York Film Festival. At the top of the list is Mark Rylance. He is a recent Emmy nominee, a multiple Tony winner, and is considered one of the best actors alive. He is also apparently pretty amazing in the film. He could easily get his first Oscar nomination soon. The other three current predictions are unknowns. Quentin Tarantino has had great luck in this category with Christoph Waltz, and with the deep lineup for The Hateful Eight, you feel like one of these guys is going to get in. My money is on Samuel L. Jackson. He is probably the hardest working actor in Hollywood, is always a standout in Tarantino films, and is way, way, way overdue for an Oscar. The Revenant bring Inarritu to the fold just a year after winning a lot of Oscars for Birdman. The film looks great, and Tom Hardy, who has been hovering around awards for awhile now, could finally cross into the top five. Plus his Mad Max role this year doesn't hurt. Finally, Bradley Cooper has become a safe bet as of late, and with he and DeNiro in the mix, we would be stupid to ignore them, especially in a David O. Russell film. Speaking of DeNiro, he is not far from the top five. Neither is Idris Elba, a name most people are predicting. A well-liked talented actor with a great role backed by Netflix, who knows how to campaign. But Beasts of No Nation is apparently so tough, I just don't know if Oscar voters will embrace it. Joel Edgerton and Benicio Del Toro are top names in projects that should do well with voters, but are not slam dunks. The Hateful Eight, In the Heart of the Sea, and Straight Outta Compton have so many contenders that some sorting out has to be done to see if anybody is worthy or at least winning at the Oscar game. Newcomer Jacob Trembley, veterans Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, and Paul Giamatti are in the mix. So are the Steve Jobs pair, Michael Shannon, Paul Dano, Matthias Schoenaerts, the other Spotlight guys (especially Mark Ruffalo), and Harvey Keitel are all ones to watch. This is going to be a fun and competitive race to watch.