ByNathan Kovar, writer at Creators.co
Writer. Photographer. Introverted Extrovert. Coffee Nerd. (Instagram @nathan_kovar)
Nathan Kovar

John Wayne. Anthony Hopkins. Tom Hanks. Daniel Day-Lewis. What do these screen legends all have in common? A golden Oscar; a monument honoring a great performance. Since the Oscar's first started back in 1927, seventy-eight actors have won in the leading category. This year, five men are nominated, but only one will go home clutching gold. Who will it be?

This year a deserted astronaut, a distraught genius, a trans-gender pioneer, an obstinate writer, and a determined, revengeful father are all in contention. Each has a valid chance of hearing their name called on stage at the Kodak Theatre come Oscar night. But who's ahead and why? Here are your 2016 'Best Actor in a Leading Role' nominees, broken down and ranked from least likely to most likely to win in my opinion.

5. Matt Damon: The Martian

After Elysium, Interstellar, and now The Martian, I think we can all agree that sending Matt Damon into space is not a good idea.
After Elysium, Interstellar, and now The Martian, I think we can all agree that sending Matt Damon into space is not a good idea.

Role Nominated For: Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars after his crew abandons him, thinking he died in a fierce storm. Watney, alone and desperate, combines his ingenuity and wit to survive. Desperately seeking a way to signal Earth, he must at the same time do the impossible: cultivate life on Mars.

In His Favor: He's a well respected actor who has won an Oscar before but it was for his screenwriting, not his acting. Also, Damon balances comedy, intelligence, and desperation so well with this character. For the most part he carries the bulk of the film on his shoulders, acting alongside nothing but his potato plants. Although the entire Academy votes, the voters in the acting branch will know what a difficult task this was, and may throw their vote Damon's way out of respect.

Working Against Him: The fact that this is being touted as "Leonardo DiCaprio's year" is unfairly burying any hope of winning for Damon and the other three nominees. Also, the buzz for Damon and The Martian has peetered out considerably since its premiere back in October. The fact that there is little to no buzz, combined with the opinion that this is a "popcorn flick", all but ensures that Damon will have to wait a little while longer to stake his claim on an acting Oscar.

The Scene They Might Use At The Oscars:

4. Michael Fassbender: Steve Jobs

That grin suggests Fassbender knew he was going to get nominated for this role.
That grin suggests Fassbender knew he was going to get nominated for this role.

Role Nominated For: Steve Jobs, the man responsible for one of the biggest companies to impact our world; Apple. As a man working to revolutionize technology, Fassbender takes us inside the life and mind of a genius. He embraces the determination and strong will of Jobs, bringing to life the trials and victories of the Apple founder.

In His Favor: Michael Fassbender is a hot commodity right now. He is fast becoming one of Hollywood's most sought out actors, securing roles that rely heavily on his incredible acting and versatility. This is his second Oscar nomination and most certainly not his last either. Voters have been blown away by his ability to inhabit a character, and it is this enviable talent that just might carry him all the way to gold on Oscar night. Also, he's portraying a real life character and the Academy loves to recognize that type of role.

Working Against Him: The movie flopped horribly at the box-office. Although that is not a huge factor when it comes to voting, the Academy voters do pay attention to commercial success. Also, Steve Jobs was considered by many to be a major awards contender earlier this year. However, when Oscar nominations were announced, Steve Jobs picked up only two nominations; both for acting. The aura around this film is one of disappointment, and that may deter voters from picking Fassbender when they fill out their ballots.

The Scene They Might Use At The Oscars:

3. Bryan Cranston: Trumbo

An old man playing another old man.
An old man playing another old man.

Role Nominated For: Dalton Trumbo, the most prolific screenwriter that was blacklisted and jailed in 1947 for his political beliefs. As Trumbo, Cranston embodies a strong-willed writer, determined to continue his work no matter the consequences.

In His Favor: Two words: Breaking Bad. This nomination comes after the end of Cranston's heavily lauded performance as Walter White in the hit show. This undeniable popularity, combined with the fact that Cranston delivers a powerhouse performance may lead to a substantial number of voters casting their lot with him.

Working Against Him: Trumbo was very divisive when it premiered, with people either loving it or hating it. Combine that with less than stellar reviews, and Cranston's chances of taking home the gold grow slimmer and slimmer. Also, the film only received this one nomination, meaning it does not have the support of the entire Academy voting body.

The Scene They Might Use At The Oscars:

2. Eddie Redmayne: The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne makes a beautiful woman. Just saying
Eddie Redmayne makes a beautiful woman. Just saying

Role Nominated For: Lili Elbe, one of the first individuals to undergo gender transformation surgery. Through Redmyane's performance, you feel Lili's pain and her need to be seen for who she truly is. From the moment you meet her, you empathize with her. Your emotions become entwined with hers, and you become fixated on the hope that she will one day find peace.

In His Favor: Working for Redmayne is the fact that he portrays a character that is very relevant to our time. Although Lili Elbe has been gone for some time now, her story still resonates with people worldwide. This relevance, combined with a heavy love for his character will win Redmayne many passion votes. Also, The Academy is currently trying to prove that they are not "backwards, or outdated" so many members may cast their vote towards a performance that speaks to our generation.

Working Against Him: However relevant The Danish Girl may feel, many voters may still be opposed to it and the way it handles its subject matter. They might cast their vote with something that seems more "conventional" and "safe". Also, although it has been done before, it is rare for an actor to win back to back Oscars in this category. Redmayne won last year for his performance in The Theory of Everything, and voters may not be ready to reward him again so soon.

The Scene They Might Use At The Oscars:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio:

Judging by his face in this picture, I'd be afraid to NOT give Leo what he wants.
Judging by his face in this picture, I'd be afraid to NOT give Leo what he wants.

Role Nominated For: Hugh Glass, a frontiersman left for dead by his traveling party after being mauled by a bear. Through DiCaprio's performance you are immersed in the world of a man hell-bent on revenge. In The Revenant, DiCaprio gives the performance of a lifetime.

In His Favor: This is Leo's year. Nominated five times before, DiCaprio lost every single bid. There is undeniable sense of entitlement surrounding this race; a sense that Leo is owed an Oscar. And rightly so. Plus, Leo literally put himself through hell for this film, and The Academy loves a good, physically challenging role.

Although it is a deserving performance, I have a feeling that when Leo walks up on stage come Oscar night, it won't be just because the voters loved the film and his performance; it will be because voters want to see him finally rewarded for a stellar career.

Working Against Him: Not much. The movie itself may deter some voters because of the violent and harsh content, but I don't think that will stop them from voting for Leo. This is pretty much in the bag for DiCaprio.

The Scene They Might Use At The Oscars:

There You Have It! Those are your 2016 Oscar nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role! Which of the performances is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Poll

And The Oscar Goes To. . .?

Trending

Latest from our Creators