Academy Award Preview — Actor's races

Today I take a look at the race for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

Best Actor:
Bryan Cranston for Trumbo
Matt Damon for The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl

About: This is a category that features some incredible performances, and could be a tight race to the finish. Cranston was somewhat of a surprise nominee for "Trumbo," and seems to be the least likely to win here. The category features only one previous winner for acting, Redmayne, who has decent odds to repeat, but is far from the favorite. Damon has an Oscar, though not for acting. Fassbender is a great actor who's been nominated before, and gave an excellent performance as Steve Jobs. But the favorite here is DiCaprio, who's been nominated many times before but never won. He was great in "The Revenant," which was not only a different kind of role but one that presented extreme physical challenges. DiCaprio is the deserving choice, and he's the one I see walking away with the trophy on February 28.

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale for The Big Short
Tom Hardy for The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight
Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone for Creed

About: This is a category that feels wide open and like a lock at the same time. It features just one previous winner — Bale, who was excellent in "The Big Short." Everyone in the category gave great performances in good films. You could make a case for any of them, which is why it feels wide open. But, barring a surprise from voters, it also feels like the trophy will go to Stallone. Part of that comes from his excellent performance in a different kind of role. Part of it comes, too, from his long history in the Academy that doesn't include an individual honor. In the end, the Oscars are partly based on talent and achievement, and partly a political process. For that reason, it feels like Stallone is a near lock, and I expect him to win on February 28.


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