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Best Actor Predictions – Can Hanks Become the New Day-Lewis?

tom hanks captain phillips

tom_hanks_captain_phillipsFor the past two years, Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis joined a very small group of actors that have won three Academy Awards.  Streep won two Oscars in Lead Actress for “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady” and won in Supporting Actress for “Kramer vs. Kramer.”  Day-Lewis has the most Lead Actor wins in history.  He won for “My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood,” and last year for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”  Most bloggers and film lovers always cite the fact that a person has won already and Oscar may be hesitant to reward them again.  Since the 2000’s, we have seen an interesting trend in the Lead Actor category.  I would say, it really doesn’t matter anymore.  If they love the performance, they’ll vote for you.  Sometimes being “overdue” comes into effect but they have no shame in letting Peter O’Toole retire with no Oscar and it’s the same reason Albert Finney still has nothing to his name.

Look at the last thirteen years:

2000Russell CroweGladiator1st Oscar winWON BP
2001Denzel WashingtonTraining Day2nd Oscar wonNot Nominated BP
2002Adrien BrodyThe Pianist1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2003Sean PennMystic River1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2004Jamie FoxxRay1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2005Philip Seymour HoffmanCapote1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2006Forest WhitakerThe Last King of Scotland1st Oscar wonNot Nominated BP
2007Daniel Day-LewisThere Will Be Blood2nd Oscar wonNominated BP
2008Sean PennMilk2nd Oscar wonNominated BP
2009Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart1st Oscar wonNot Nominated BP
2010Colin FirthThe King’s Speech1st Oscar wonWON BP
2011Jean DujardinThe Artist1st Oscar wonWON BP
2012Daniel Day-LewisLincoln3rd Oscar wonNominated BP

The correlation between Best Picture and Best Actor is staggering. Only three actors in thirteen years have won Best Actor without their films being nominated for Best Picture.  You can make the argument that Jeff Bridges, who had four prior Oscar nods before then, was just deemed overdue.  Same for Washington who had lost terribly for “Malcolm X.”  They just wanted throw them a bone.  Forest Whitaker was the benefit of delivering a staggering performance in a film that was not as embraced by Oscar.  I’m surprised quite frankly.

brucedern_nebraskaIn my latest round of predictions, prior to announcing Steve Carell and possibly Leonardo DiCaprio were out of the race, both Bruce Dern and Robert Redford are predicted to be Oscar nominees for their upcoming performances in “Nebraska” and “All is Lost.”  At this time, their films aren’t predicted to be nominated in any other category.  From a nominee stand point, the last time we had two actors as the only nominees for their films in Lead Actor was 2007 (Tommy Lee Jones for “In the Valley of Elah” and Viggo Mortensen for “Eastern Promises”), and neither of them won.  Coincidently, both Dern and Redford’s films are playing the same day at NYFF.  Interesting.

Tom Hanks, magnificent in Paul Greengrass‘ “Captain Phillips” delivers his crowning work of his career.  Authentic and real, Hanks proves why he’s one of the best American actors in the history of cinema.  I thoroughly believe it’s a turn that could score the two-time Oscar winner, another gold statue.  It’s not like the actors branch and the critics haven’t entertained this idea before.  The last time Hanks was on Oscar’s radar was in Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away” – a performance that earned him his fourth Golden Globe award and citations from New York and Chicago.  He was probably second to Russell Crowe‘s work in the Best Picture winning “Gladiator” but when push came to shove, Hanks missed out.  With heavy competition in his category, and another performance on the way in Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” it won’t be easy for Hanks to top the competition.  At this writing, the only performances we’re still waiting on is Christian Bale in “American Hustle,” Matt Damon in “The Monuments Men,” Joaquin Phoenix in “Her,” and Ben Stiller in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  My money is only Bale or Phoenix has the potential to shake things up.  There are a lot of moving pieces at the moment.

Oscar Isaac is simply sensation in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” one of my favorite performances of the year.  He also probably delivers one of my favorite performances in a  Coen Brothers movie ever.  All the talk about “he deserves it…but it won’t happen” can kick-start something for Isaac and ends up happening.  The same things were said about Demian Bichir in “A Better Life” and look how that turned out.

And then there’s the miraculous Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is just heartbreaking in “12 Years a Slave.”  If the film is destined to be “the one,” he is an easy choice for AMPAS to check off for a statue.  Both Ejiofor and Hanks have emotional finales, enriched in spirit, and have viewers in tears.  There will be a bloodbath in this category all season long.  Even I don’t know who I want to vote for in the upcoming Critics Choice Movie Awards and  I usually have a good idea by now who stands out in my mind.  This year, not so much.

We’re just waiting for the precursors to start clearing out some of the fog.  Matthew McConaughey, still memorable in “Dallas Buyers Club,” already has fans screaming for a citation in Jeff Nichols‘ “Mud.”  Could the blockbuster star turned character actor get double nominated this year or will one take away from the other?  Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey could be a one-two punch for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” when everything is said and done.  Whitaker is one of the highlights of Daniels’ film.

And I didn’t even mention Idris Elba, who received most of the praise for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and Hugh Jackman, delivering his career best in “Prisoners.”  I still pray daily for the works of Ethan Hawke in “Before Midnight” and Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station” to stand a chance and get some critics awards along the way.  I’m not hopeful.

And the race is on.

(to be updated this week, don’t hold me to it)

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
  2. Robert Redford – All is Lost
  3. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
  4. Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
  5. Bruce Dern – Nebraska

What do you think?

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Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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Love Hanks, but for me it’s still Chiwetel Ejiofor or Oscar Isaac. I like McConaughey as his films are always enjoyable but he never disappears into a role. It is usually just the “different moods of McConaughey” – not easy to do, but not great acting.


I have a feeling we’ll get a blood bath here and that “similar” performances will likely cancel each other out I don’t see both Dern and Redford making it, nor Ejiofor and Whitaker ( however racist that might make the academy). From the trailer alone, Bale looks like a powerhouse from the trailer alone and if the academy goes ape over Hustle the way they did for the Fighter or SLP (4 acting nods, director, screenplay, picture) I think he’s a lot safer and somebody strong will get the axe. I also think Isaacs could make it because I’m sure… Read more »



Funny you say how McConaughey never disappears into a ole as that is exactly how I feel about Hnak. I always find Hanks at his best when he plays the everyman type role. Whenever he tries to do anything such as historical or period, it just is not as effective to me. Am looking forward to Captain Phillips though many people who have seen keeps saying that his costar Barkhad Abdi steals the show so I am wondering if it will work against Hanks in the long run.


Don’t you mean three actors have won Best Actor without a BP nom for the film since 2000? You seem to be forgetting Training Day.

Your predictions in the category seem solid at this point, but don’t count out Isaac. The Academy loves them some Coens.


I really hope Issac gets in but I am getting the sense that he will be the Michael Stuhlbarg of this year despite though that is is still quite early. Hopefully he can win something big like NY/LA/Boston or maybe even GG to at least put himself in serious contention.

Wesley Soares

At the moment, with Ejiofor winning!

Steve Glansberg

The talk about Hanks is really encouraging. The space left by the Carell vacancy lets him fit in my lineup nicely. Chiwetel Ejiofor Tom Hanks Matthew McConaughey Oscar Issac Christian Bale I have trouble seeing Dern and Redford keeping momentum all the way to a nomination. Unlike the other actors in contention, Dern and Redford have to carry their films’ awards chances for the most part, as you pointed out. Normally that wouldn’t be too big an obstacle, but the other possible nominees this year are in films that are smothered in awards talk for a variety of categories. Surprisingly,… Read more »


I have Hanks in for a nomination in Lead Actor this year. I can’t wait for Captain Phillips, which apparently follows history pretty closely and doesn’t pull cheap tricks like Argo in its 3rd Act.

randall gerber

If Tom Hanks wins another Oscar it will probably be in supporting.Either Matthew McConaughey or Robert Redford will probably win.Maybe even Bruce Dern.

Paula Gajardo

I really hope that Oscar Isaac get a nomination, He’s amazing in Inside Llewyn Davis. Last year, John Hawkes totally deserves been in the 5 nominees and was out of the race, so it’s a possibility that one of the top 5 conteder miss out and give a spot to Isaac. I think he would get the nom. My top five contenders are

Redford (I think it Redford or Dern, but not both)


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