If this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is any indication, the four acting categories at the upcoming Academy Awards® are going to feature a ruthless competition among some major Hollywood heavyweights, and there are still plenty of performances the industry is waiting to screen.
There were a number of tremendous performances that emerged as contenders for the Lead and Supporting categories, though it’s too soon to single anyone out as a front-runner. Here, though, are a few performers we feel have a strong chance to be named Oscar nominees when the Academy releases their slate early next year.
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
The last man to play the Clown Prince of Gotham on screen, Heath Ledger, won a posthumous Oscar for disappearing into the maniacal role. Joaquin Phoenix follows in Ledger’s footsteps but takes a more in-depth plunge into the origin of a complicated character, and the Academy will take notice of his accomplishments.
Renée Zellweger, Judy
Yes, the Academy loves movies about movie stars and tragic stories about Hollywood’s history. But the consensus on Renée Zellweger’s turn as Judy Garland in JUDY is that it’s a career-best performance and one that will power the Texan to her fourth Oscar nomination.
Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari
There are two leads in James Mangold’s upcoming FORD V FERRARI, and we expect both of them to find their way into the Oscar conversation, though they’ll either go head to head or one of them will dip into the Supporting category. Christian Bale likely has the best chance at a Best Actor nod, as he’s brilliant playing grease monkey Ken Miles, who raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Ford.
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
America’s Dad, playing American icon Fred Rogers in an eccentric biopic? Yes, please. Tom Hanks has proven to be extremely versatile, and he’s the perfect fit to play Mister Rogers in this story of a cynical journalist assigned to write a puff piece about the Pittsburgh television broadcaster. An Oscar nomination is nearly a lock.
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
The wild card. Some films actually generate out-of-left-field buzz after people start seeing them at film festivals. HUSTLERS always looked like it was going to be entertaining, as it tells a GOODFELLAS-type crime story about strippers conning Wall Street monsters. But once people started screening the movie, Jennifer Lopez started getting awards chatter, and we’ll continue to track the reviews after HUSTLERS opens in theatres on September 13.
Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari
The other half of the FORD V FERRARI sandwich, though we wonder if Matt Damon, in an effort to avoid going head to head with his co-star, will default to the Best Supporting Actor category, should the Academy find his performance worthy. Damon plays Carroll Shelby, a celebrated racer and automobile designer who helps Ford compete against the Ferrari company at Le Mans. It’s a winning turn in a crowd pleaser of a movie, and the Academy should take notice.
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
Are you ready for the phrase “Oscar nominee Adam Sandler”? There’s a very real possibility of this happening, as Sandler anchors the insanity swirling around the gambling saga UNCUT GEMS by the Safdie brothers (GOOD TIME). Sandler has dabbled in prestige pictures before, most notably with Paul Thomas Anderson in the stellar PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE. But as a con artist trying to stay ahead of some very bad people, Sandler just might find himself at the Oscars® this year.