Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
The Best Actor race at the 2023 Oscars might be the clearest it has been in years with five leading nominees and an all but definite prediction of a winner. While things can change it seems pretty clear from this far away.
As of now, it seems everything is pointing to Brendan Fraser not only being nominated but winning the award. The Whale is directed by Darren Aronofsky who is no stranger to career resurgences, for example, Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Fraser’s narrative is also quite infallible as he is one who was ousted from Hollywood for reporting a sexual harassment and has slowly come back into the fold and this award would be a redemption for the wrongdoings of Hollywood. Now that the Golden Globes are back on the air, it will be interesting to see if Fraser will even consider going as that is where the initial assault took place. The one thing working against Fraser is that The Whale is about a morbidly obese man and this could draw some controversy as many have the potentional to take offense to the situation.
Colin Farrell has yet to garner an Oscar nomination and the closest he came was in his last collaboration with Martin McDonagh, In Bruges. It seems like their latest collaboration, The Banshees of Inisherin, is a huge crowd favorite at the festivals and Farrell is the main standout and it looks likely he will get his first nomination for his performance in this.
Florian Zeller directed Anthony Hopkins to an Oscar win in 2020 for The Father and his next film The Son is putting Hugh Jackman in the lead tole and with Zeller’s track record alone Jackman is very likely to garner a nomination. The one drawback against this nomination is that the festival reaction for The Son has paled in comparison with The Father.
A film that flew under the radar at Sundance was Living where Bill Nighy is the showcase role in an emotional role that has been praised quite a bit. It is highly likely that will grab a nomination not only because of his performance but because he is a beloved legendary actor who inexplicably has yet to garner a nomination.
The Academy loves musical biopics which not only draw nominations but frequently wins and while Elvis was somewhat divisive in its critical reception absolutely everyone loved Austin Butler as the titular character and he will very likely find himself nominated.
After these five prospects the possible nominees tend to drop off a cliff in terms of likelihood of being in the top five, but Tom Cruise is a dark horse who is looking fairly likely. Top Gun Maverick is a movie that is good for the movie business and the Academy is going to want to honor it anyway they can and with Cruise having so much to do with it, him being nominated seems like a great way to honor him, not to mention it’s a great performance and a reflection of the aging movie star which is reflected and relatable.
Predicting award nominations this early in the game can sometimes feel like a fool’s errand but there aren’t many prospects past these five and it seems all but clear at this point pending the occasional fun surprise.