2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

John Boone‍
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2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Has there ever been a Best Actor race as competitive as this year's?

It's nearly time to meet the Oscars class of 2020. This year's Academy Awards caps off an abbreviated awards season -- the show will air on Feb. 9, weeks earlier than usual -- and ET has been here the entire time, sussing out Oscar fortunes. On Jan. 13, the Academy will announce their nominations, but before then, take one final look at our predictions for 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 short time 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, the only sure things I'd be willing to wager money on are Marriage Story's Adam Driver and Joker's Joaquin Phoenix. The remaining three slots could be any combination of Oscar stalwarts and noteworthy first-timers.

THE PREDICTIONS

Our Final Predictions:

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Taron Egerton, Rocketman
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

The Potential Spoilers:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

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

THE SCORECARD

Image via 20th Century Fox

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

The Role: Ken Miles, the hotheaded sports car driver enlisted by Ford and Matt Damon's character to out-race Ferrari at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Oscar History: One win, for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter (2011), with three additional nominations for Best Actor in American Hustle (2014), Best Supporting Actor in The Big Short (2016) and Best Actor in Vice (2019).

Awards season scorecard:

Golden Globes - Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
SAG Awards - Male Actor in a Leading Role (Nominee)

Image via Sony Pictures Classics

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)
National Society of Film Critics - Best Actor (Winner)
New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actor (Winner)
Palm Springs International Film Festival - International Star Award (Winner)

Image via Netflix

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)

Image via Sony Pictures

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:

BAFTA Awards - Leading Actor (Nominee)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)
SAG Awards - Male Actor in a Leading Role (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

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:

BAFTA Awards - Leading Actor (Nominee)
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)
National Society of Film Critics - Best Actor (Runner-up)
SAG Awards - Male Actor in a Leading Role (Nominee)
Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Performer of the Year Award (Winner)

Image via Paramount Pictures

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:

BAFTA Awards - Leading Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Winner)
SAG Awards - Male Actor in a Leading Role (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

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)

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

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:

BAFTA Awards - Leading Actor (Nominee)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Winner)
Palm Springs International Film Festival - Chairman’s Award (Winner)
SAG Awards - Male Actor in a Leading Role (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

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:

BAFTA Awards - Leading Actor (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)

Image via A24

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)
National Society of Film Critics - Best Actor (Runner-up)

[This story was originally published on December 10, 2019.]

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