This has been a year of great male performances in the movie theaters.
It’s unfortunate, though, that that Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to recognize two of the year’s best. Michael Fassbender’s work in “Shame” should have received a Best Actor nomination and Albert Brooks’ unlikely villain in “Drive” should have been nominated – and won – for Best Supporting Actor.
Regardless of those snubs, the actors that the Academy actually nominated did a lot of great work this year. Some are long overdue for wins (i.e. Christopher Plummer, Gary Oldman) while others (i.e. Jonah Hill) are just at the beginning of their careers.
But with no further hesitation, here are the nominees for Best Actor …
1.) Demian Bachir, “A Better Life”
The Oscars have a way of bringing attention to unknown actors, and this year was no different with the nomination of Bachir. For a small under-the-radar movie like “Life” and for this lesser-known thespian, the nomination is the award.
Chance of Winning: 4 percent
2.) George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Clooney, a previous winner for his supporting performance in “Syriana,” was the odds-on favorite to win a few weeks ago but during the Oscar season, momentum shifts quickly and the momentum has definitely shifted away from Clooney. Yes, Clooney won a “Critic’s Choice Award” and a “Golden Globe” for his performance, but that may not be enough to earn him the Oscar gold.
Chance of winning: 35 percent
3.) Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Despite the fact that “Hugo” received more nominations than “The Artist,” the 2012 Academy Awards are more likely to be remembered for the latter. A nearly dialogue-free black and white movie about a silent film star rejecting the idea of making talkies has captured the heart of many critics, and my feeling is that Dujardin will carry the film’s momentum to a big Oscar win. Click here for my full review of the film.
Chance of winning : 40 percent
3.) Gary Oldman, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy”
In a career that has spanned over two decades, it’s a surprise that this is Oldman’s first Oscar nomination. But the British actor has rightfully been recognized for a role that required great subtlety and strong acting skills. This isn’t Oldman’s year to win, but it’s about time he got this well-deserved nod. Click here to check out my interview with the acclaimed actor.
Chance of winning : 10 percent
5.) Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”
His nomination for “Moneyball” will mark Pitt’s third acting nomination. His previous nods were for “12 Monkeys” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” As Billy Beane, Pitt gives a strong performance as a manager who is willing to do anything to change the fate of his badly-performing baseball team. It’s a strong turn but not showy or strong enough to earn Pitt the Oscar statue. Click here for my full review of the film.
Chance of winning: 11 percent
Who Will Win: Jean DuJardin, “The Artist”
Who Should Win: George Clooney “The Descendants”
Who Should’ve been Nominated: Michael Fassbender, “Shame”
And the nominees for best actor in a supporting role are…
1.) Kenneth Branagh, “My Week with Marilyn”
This is Branagh’s second Oscar nomination and one that he undoubtedly deserves. As Laurence Olivier, a director dealing with the frustrations of working with Marilyn Monroe, Branagh delivers a strong performance against the Oscar-worthy Michelle Williams. It looks like neither of them will win this year but their nominations show that they were able to create fully-rounded characters in this delightful little movie. Click here for my full review of the film.
Chance of Winning: 3 percent
2.) Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”
It’s strange to think that Hill received his first acting nomination in the same year that Oldman received his. Oldman has been acting since Hill was born. Regardless, Hill – in one of his few dramatic roles – does an admirable job acting against Brad Pitt in this true story. But as with Bichir, the nomination is the reward. Click here for my full review of the film.
Chance of winning: 1 percent
3.) Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
One of the nicest surprises of the Oscar nominations this year was Nick Nolte’s nod for his performance as the father of two MMA fighters in this under-appreciated drama. If Plummer doesn’t win this award, I’m seriously hoping that Nolte is recognized for his emotional performance in this great film.
Chance of winning : 4 percent
4.) Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
In this awards season, it’s easier to name the awards that Plummer didn’t receive rather than the ones he did. For his performance in “Beginners,” Plummer has won a Golden Globe, a Critic’s Choice Award, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. If “Beginners” was eligible at the Grammys, he would have won one of those too. Barring a major upset, Plummer will win an Oscar for the first time in his storied career this Sunday night.
Chance of winning: 90 percent
5.) Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
Of all of the male acting nominations, this nod was the biggest surprise for me. Firstly, I don’t think that “Extremely Loud” worked as a film and secondly, I think other actors deserved this nomination more than von Sydow. Neither this performance or this film left a lasting impression on me. I seriously wish that Albert Brooks could have snuck in this category instead.
Chance of winning: 2 percent
Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Who Should Win: Albert Brooks “Drive” (I know he’s not nominated. A guy can dream, can’t he?)
Who Should’ve been Nominated: Albert Brooks, “Drive”