Posted by Jack Carr @jackc
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Jack Carr

When was the last time two members of the same family were nominated for an acting Oscar in the same year? You might have to go back as far as Laura Dern and Diane Ladd way back in '92 (lead and supporting actress in Rambling Rose, neither won) — but if the thought of a hotly-contested blood rivalry gets your pulse racing, the Affleck brothers could make 2017 a year to remember.

With that in mind, let's cast an early eye on the leading men who may have a shot at taking home the Best Actor statuette in 2017, beginning with those who have an outside chance and then upgrading to the major frontrunners. This is arguably a more crowded category than Best Actress this year (check out who could challenge Viola Davis or Emma Stone in that category) so this is all subject to change.

In Contention

Colin Farrell was superb in The Lobster, but the movie came out so long ago that it might be forgotten among newer movies opening in the run up to Christmas. Snowden, the story of controversial ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has proved massively divisive, which could harm the chances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt securing a Best Actor nomination. But acting noms don't require the movie to be great, and this is Gordon-Levitt's best performance in years.

Viggo Mortensen was last nominated in 2007 for Eastern Promises, and could be in the mix a decade on for his stellar work in Captain Fantastic. It's a low-key movie but it received a long standing ovation at Cannes.

Don Cheadle directed himself in Miles Ahead, made on a tiny $400k budget, in which he plays the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis. Last nominated in 2004 for Hotel Rwanda, Cheadle is overdue some Academy recognition.

Will Smith's Collateral Beauty hasn't screened yet, but this is the kind of meaty, emotional performance Smith excels at, and in the wake of Suicide Squad the Fresh Prince seems to be back in everybody's good books. If the movie is as good as the trailer suggests it could be, Smith could definitely sneak a place in the shortlist.

On a similar note, Matthew McConaughey travels to Indonesia in pursuit of gold in the aptly-titled Gold, which also hasn't been seen yet. A long way from his dodgy rom-com days, McConaughey's resume of late is pretty flawless, so expect this to do really well with critics and potentially put its star firmly in the race.

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Building Hype

Nocturnal Animals from Tom Ford is a stylish revenge thriller which could receive nominations for Amy Adams (Best Actress), Michael Shannon (Supporting Actor), and potentially Jake Gyllenhaal for Best Actor. Gyllenhaal plays two characters, one in the fictional story-within-the-story, and it's the kind of gritty, psychological role he's so good at. He wasn't nominated for Nightcrawler when he should've been, though, so who knows?

The Oscars love Michael Keaton who's firmly in contention for The Founder, the story of Ray Kroc, the ruthless salesman who buys McDonalds from the McDonald brothers and turns it into the world's biggest fast food giant. It looks like a lot more fun than your standard biopic and could be a decent hit. Andrew Garfield is a possibility for Silence, the Martin Scorsese religious epic about two priests who travel to Japan to spread the word about Christianity.

Ben Affleck has two movies set for release in Oscar season, which could hurt his chances. The first is The Accountant, in which he plays a man with high-functioning autism drawn into a criminal web. The second is Live By Night, directed by Affleck himself from the noir novel by Dennis Lehane. Neither has screened yet but The Accountant looks like the more Oscar-baity role, whereas Live By Night could go either way. And finally, there's Joel Edgerton in Loving, the story of an interracial couple forced out of their Virginia home in 1958. That's prime Oscar bait and the Aussie actor has been doing great work for years now without getting any Oscar recognition. Could 2017 be his year?

The 5 Frontrunners Right Now

Who doesn't love a good all-American hero? Probably best not to answer that, but hey, the Americans love 'em and Tom Hanks plays one of the most heroic figures of recent times in Sully. His Captain Chesley Sullenberger crash-landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson river in 2009, but was then hit with accusations that human error was at play. As directed by Clint Eastwood, this is essentially the most Oscar bait-tastic role of the season and a nomination is almost guaranteed, especially as the film is already a big box office hit.

Dev Patel has been doing brilliant work ever since his breakout performance in the 2009 Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire. Lion looks a little bit less feel-good than Danny Boyle's film, telling the story of an Australian immigrant's attempt to use Google Earth to locate the family he was separated from as a child in Calcutta.

Ryan Gosling is back with a vengeance in La La Land, this year's hot Best Picture favorite, where he's a demon on the keys and whips up some serious chemistry with Emma Stone. Again, Gosling is looking like a super-safe bet right now.

How often does Denzel Washington put a foot wrong? The double Oscar winner directs for the first time in Fences, in which he also stars opposite Viola Davis in the story of a former baseball player struggling to provide for his family in 1950s America. The teaser trailer is seriously intense and suggests something special. And finally, Casey Affleck has been receiving rave reviews for Manchester by the Sea, which has an unreal 91/100 on Metacritic and looks like making a major star of its lead actor. The lesser-known Affleck may finally have his moment at the 2017 ceremony.


Who most deserves a Best Actor nomination at the 2017 Oscars?