2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Oscar season is officially underway. The 2020 Oscars will cap off an abbreviated awards season — this year’s telecast is scheduled for Feb. 9, weeks earlier than usual — and ET will keep you up to date with our latest predictions the entire time. Up until Jan. 13, when the Academy officially announces their nominations, keep checking back to this post to see who is in the running for Best Actor.

I’m pressed to remember the last time there was a Best Actor field was as crowded as this year’s. For a moment there, it seemed like a few contenders — multi-nominees like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro — had safely cemented their spots in the final five, but now, at the time of publishing, the only sure thing I’d be willing to wager money on is Marriage Story‘s Adam Driver. The remaining four slots could be any combination of Oscar stalwarts and noteworthy first-timers.

THE PREDICTIONS

The Top 5:

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

The Challengers:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari
Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Taron Egerton, Rocketman
Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell
Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name
Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes


Also check out: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor


THE SCORECARD

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

The Role: Salvador Mallo, a lauded Madrid filmmaker taking stock of his life as the 30th anniversary of his breakthrough film approaches.

Oscar History: This would be Banderas’ first nomination.

Awards season scorecard:

Cannes Film Festival – Best Actor (Winner)
Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
Hollywood Film Awards – Hollywood Actor Award (Winner)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards – Best Actor (Winner)
New York Film Critics Circle – Best Actor (Winner)
Palm Springs International Film Festival – International Star Award (Winner)


Robert De Niro, The Irishman

The Role: Frank Sheeran, the titular Irishman, a truck driver who is recruited into the Bufalino crime family as their go-to hit man.

Oscar History: Two wins, for Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather: Part II (1975) and Best Actor in Raging Bull (1981), with five additional nominations, for Best Actor in Taxi Driver (1977), The Deer Hunter (1979), Awakenings (1991) and Cape Fear (1992) and Best Supporting Actor in Silver Linings Playbook (2013).

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)


Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The Role: Rick Dalton, a fading star of TV Westerns who is fighting to stay relevant as the Golden Age of Hollywood comes to an end.

Oscar History: One win, for Best Actor in The Revenant (2015), with four additional nominations, for Best Supporting Actor in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1994) and Best Actor in The Aviator (2005), Blood Diamond (2007) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2014).

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)


Adam Driver, Marriage Story

The Role: Charlie, a theater director navigating his divorce and single fatherhood after splitting from Scarlett Johansson’s character.

Oscar History: One nomination, for Best Supporting Actor in BlacKkKlansman (2019).

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
Gotham Awards – Best Actor (Winner)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards – Best Actor (Runner-up)
Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Performer of the Year Award (Winner)


Taron Egerton, Rocketman

The Role: Elton John, reflecting on the iconic songs, failed romances and addictions on his journey from piano prodigy Reginald Dwight to international superstar.

Oscar History: This would be Egerton’s first nomination.

Awards season scorecard:

Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)


Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

The Role: Rudy Ray Moore, the struggling comedian who became a ’70s Blaxploitation phenomenon and godfather of rap with his alter-ego, Dolemite.

Oscar History: One nomination, for Best Supporting Actor in Dreamgirls (2006).

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)


Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

The Role: Arthur Fleck, a wannabe comedian who will become Gotham City’s Clown Prince of Crime and Batman’s most infamous nemesis.

Oscar History: Three nominations, for Best Supporting Actor in Gladiator (2001) and Best Actor in Walk the Line (2006) and The Master (2013).

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
Palm Springs International Film Festival – Chairman’s Award (Winner)


Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

The Role: Cardinal Bergoglio, critic of Pope Benedict and the man who would become Pope Francis, colloquially known as “Cool Pope.”

Oscar History: This would be Pryce’s first nomination.

Awards season scorecard:

Golden Globes – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)


Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

The Role: Howard Ratner, a Diamond District jeweler and gambling addict barely managing to juggle his put-upon wife, mistress and debt collectors.

Oscar History: This would be Sandler’s first nomination.

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
Film Independent Spirit Awards – Best Male Lead (Nominee)
Gotham Awards – Best Actor (Nominee)
National Board of Review – Best Actor (Winner)


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