Saturday, March 2, 2024

Unraveling The Scenarios For Who Will Win Best Actor At The Oscars

With the Oscar race heating up and the SAG and BAFTA awards less than a month away, people are predicting who will take home an Academy Award based on the outcome of these two significant precursors. One of the most intriguing races this year is Best Actor, which includes Oscar nominees Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer“), Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers“), Bradley Cooper (“Maestro“), Coleman Domingo (“Rustin“), and Jeffery Wright (“American Fiction“). For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on Murphy, Giamatti and Cooper due to Domingo’s film not having a Best Picture nomination and Wright losing the Golden Globe to Giamatti. It’s highly unlikely either rally back to become contenders to win the Oscar at this point.

Cillian Murphy seemed like the surefire winner for the longest time, and it was his award to lose as he has led the precursors all season long. Then, a little film called “The Holdovers” started to creep in on voters’ radar. Now, Paul Giamatti is beginning to gain momentum in the race following wins at the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards. Suddenly, this has become a two-man race for the Oscar…or has it? Here are some possible scenarios that could lead up to who wins the Oscar on March 10th…

1. Cillian Murphy Sweeps
Given how much love “Oppenheimer” has received since its premiere over the summer, this possibility is still in play. Murphy has had to carry the weight of this movie on his back both in production and through the awards campaign. Winning SAG will be more of a challenge than taking the BAFTA, but if he wins both, the Oscar is guaranteed for him.

2. Cillian Murphy Takes BAFTA & Paul Giamatti Takes SAG
Paul Giamatti winning the SAG award is more likely because not only was his performance in “The Holdovers” genuinely excellent and appeals broadly to a large group of voters but because it feels like other actors want to show their appreciation for all the work he’s done over the last 30 years years. There may not be a better opportunity than now to acknowledge what a consistent and beloved actor he’s been for many years, whether it’s in the lead or supporting roles. If this happens, the Oscar race will suddenly become tighter between the two men. I would still predict Cillian to take the Oscar since “Oppenheimer” is widely expected to win Best Picture at the moment, but I wouldn’t feel confident about it should this scenario play out.

3. Paul Giamatti Takes BAFTA & Cillian Murphy Takes SAG
This one feels like a bit of a stretch, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Giamatti’s dry humor in “The Holdovers” could win over some BAFTA voters, and Murphy could win SAG based on the popularity of “Oppenheimer” alone. This would make Oscar night pretty interesting, even more so than the previous scenario, making the race neck and neck between the two actors. Still, given SAG’s track record correlation with the Academy’s winners, I imagine this would benefit Murphy by a tiny margin.

4. Paul Giamatti Sweeps
This scenario is still possible, much like how Will Smith took SAG & BAFTA in 2021 for “King Richard.” “The Holdovers” is a film that people love starring an actor who the industry clearly wants to recognize. Despite how we think the British voting block will go, they sometimes just go with the performer they love the most. Since 2016, BAFTA has matched the Best Actor category with the Oscars six out of seven times (Austin Butler won the BAFTA for “Elvis” last year, but Brendan Fraser won the Oscar for “The Whale“). If this happens, Paul Giamatti would have the Golden Statue secured come Oscar night instead of Murphy.

5. Bradley Cooper Takes SAG & Someone Else Takes BAFTA
This scenario would be the most fun and would undoubtedly throw a huge monkey wrench in the mix. Bradley Cooper is great in “Maestro,” but he’s failed to gain momentum to win the Oscar after his film debuted on Netflix and got ripped to shreds by critics and viewers. He has now amassed twelve Oscar nominations, and given the beating he’s received up until this point, is it possible the industry (let’s remind people Critics Choice and Golden Globes aren’t industry voters, aka. there’s no overlap between their membership and the Academy) turns around and gives him a hug. SAG is his final stand. If he hopes to snag the Oscar away from Murphy and Giamatti, he must win SAG. Hollywood loves a good biopic, which could be their way of throwing Cooper a bone, even if it means he doesn’t ultimately win the Oscar. In this case, whoever wins BAFTA will likely go on to win the Oscar, but it’d still be a headscratcher to determine who after a dramatic swerve like this.

6. Bradley Cooper Sweeps
This is the least likely scenario of all, but we are looking at all possibilities here. This would require “Maestro” to have an insane last-minute push from Netflix and Bradley Cooper to have a near-flawless finish to his campaign. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Not entirely. There could be some last-minute sympathy votes that come in for Cooper, as mentioned before; Giamatti and Murphy could lose momentum if they lose SAG, and some might just feel as many predicted at the start of the season; it’s just Cooper’s time. If not now, how long will the Academy allow him to keep raking in nominations without a win? Don’t count him out entirely just yet. Stranger things have happened during award season at this stage.

Which one of these scenarios do you think is most likely to happen? Who do you think will win the Oscar for Best Actor this year? Please let us know in the comments section below or on Next Best Picture’s Twitter account. Also, please check out their latest Oscar winner predictions here and the 2023 precursor awards tally here.

You can follow Monique and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars & Film on Twitter at @MoCJones

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