Oscars Week — The Actor's Races

It's Oscars week. On Sunday, the awards will be handed out. Until then, it's time to handicap the races. Today I will look at the Actor's races.

Best Actor:
* Casey Affleck, "Manchester By the Sea"
* Denzel Washington, "Fences"
* Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"
* Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic"
* Andre Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"

About: This is one of the more wide open competitions among the big awards on Sunday. A month ago it seemed like Affleck had this locked up, but now things are less clear. Personal issues for Affleck have muddied the water, as have the rise of other nominees. This is now somewhat of a four horse race, with only Garfield standing little chance to win. Washington, who won at the SAG awards, Mortensen and Gosling are all in the field. And you could make cases for all of them. The question is which will rise to the top, and who will pull out the win. I still think Affleck is the favorite, but there are plenty of options and none of the four chief contenders would surprise me.

Best Supporting Actor:
* Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"
* Dev Patel, "Lion"
* Lucas Hedges, "Manchester By the Sea"
* Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"
* Michael Shannon, "Nocturnal Animals"

About: There is plenty of chance to pull and upset here, too. All five nominees have their virtues, and this is a category where you sometimes see upsets. Yet, I contend there's a clear favorite heading into this ceremony — Ali. I wasn't in love with "Moonlight," but I see its virtue. And I think it's a film that will find favor with Academy voters. By far the best part of the movie, to me, was the beautiful and layered performance from Ali. There is one scene in particular when he's have a conversation with the young boy he is mentoring that is one of the best scenes in any film this year. It was an incredibly powerful moment and one that stuck with me long after the film was over. I think that he will hear his name called on Sunday.


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