Oscars 2016: A Veterans Bloodbath Ahead, Both Old and New in Lead Actor

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ianmckellen_holmesIt’s about that time to start getting into the acting races, at least on the surface for Oscars 2016.

As always, the Lead Actor race looks rich with fruitful characters and talented performers.  Many previous winners are in play this year like Matthew McConaughey (“Sea of Trees”), Robert Redford (“Truth”), recently crowned Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”), Tom Hanks (“A Bridge of Spies”), Brad Pitt (“By the Sea”), Matt Damon (“The Martian”), Colin Firth (“Genius”), Russell Crowe (“Fathers and Daughters”), and Javier Bardem (“The Last Face”).  The ones that are fighting for their first statue are in full force.  All eyes will be on Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant,” assuming that Inarritu capitalizes on his trifecta earlier this year.  Ethan Hawke is four nominations deep at this point in his career and could be a contender if “Born to be Blue” proves to be a true vehicle.

It seemed like years ago when the prognosticating world was trying to get Peter Sarsgaard his first nomination following his misses for “Shattered Glass,” “Kinsey,” and “Jarhead.”  This year, he has “Experimenter” which could surprise.  Michael Fassbender is finally in Oscar’s good graces and playing “Steve Jobs” will be an opportunity for him to go all the way.  He has also Justin Kurzel’s “MacBeth” in play.  Joaquin Phoenix still lays Oscar-less after losing out for “The Master” and being snubbed for “Her.”  Teaming up with Woody Allen, which works wonders for women usually, could have him Cate Blanchett-himself into the season.  Jake Gyllenhaal has three vehicles this year, and missed out big time for “Nightcrawler” when he scored Globe and SAG nods.  “Demolition” looks to be his best shot at the moment.  Idris Elba couldn’t muscle in for playing Nelson Mandela, but his anticipated work in Cary Fukunaga’s “Beasts of No Nation” sounds very Forest Whitaker-Last King of Scotland.

Ewan McGregor will be playing Jesus Christ in “Last Days in the Desert,” which got praise out of Sundance.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing two high-profile figures in two high-profile films (“The Walk” from Robert Zemeckis and “Snowden” from Oliver Stone).  Both figures coincidentally are subjects of two Oscar-winning documentaries.  Johnny Depp is looking to gain back that Oscar respect and clout in “Black Mass” while Chris Hemsworth teams back up with Ron Howard on “In the Heart of the Sea.”

Will Smith is one great role away from his first Oscar but teaming up with the director of “Parkland,” doesn’t exactly scream faith at the moment.  Hopefully “Concussion” can be more.  There’s also some potential surprises coming from Jason Segel in “The End of the Tour,” Jack O’Connell in “Money Monster,” Robert Pattinson in “The Childhood of a Leader,” and Daniel Radcliffe in “Victor Frankenstein.”

There’s also Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears’ “Icon” as well as Michael Keaton in Thomas McCarthy’s “Spotlight.”

There’s plenty more to consider this year.  Keep watching.

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