Best Lead Actor and Actress

By Robert O'Connor, Assistant Entertainment Editor

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This year’s Oscar Awards will be on Sunday, March 4 at 8:30pm.
Photo courtesy of Jose Manuel Mazintosh of Creative Commons

BEST ACTRESS

Frances McDormand has been winning nearly every award thus far for playing Mildred Hayes in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” She is the front-runner to take home the best actress Oscar, and it would be deserved as she showed off some really dark, unflinching character work.

Right behind McDormand is Saoirse Ronan, who could potentially steal the win for her work in “Lady Bird,” as this is her third nomination at only 23 years old. I found her portrayal of Christine to be so authentic and genuine, a far cry from the typical angst-ridden teens that populate so many average to sub-par movies. Sure, she is misunderstood, but there is so much more going on, too.

The possible dark horse in this category is Sally Hawkins as Eliza in “The Shape of Water.” It is is a completely silent performance, and she really gives it her all. In nearly any other year, she would have been the front-runner. However, the competition is unusually strong this year, especially in this category.

Margot Robbie was thrust onto screens in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and made a star by “Suicide Squad.” Now with “I, Tonya” she has finally cemented herself as a serious actress. She hits all the right notes as Tonya Harding, being darkly funny, vulnerable and jaded all at the same time. However for Robbie, I feel as though the nomination in and of itself is the win.

It is no secret that I am Meryl Streep’s biggest supporter, but even I know she is not going home with an Oscar on March 4. While she did give a very subdued but still immensely powerful performance as Katharine Graham in “The Post,” it was not a performance worthy of a fourth win. However, in the back of my mind, I’ll still be secretly rooting for her.

BEST ACTOR

Phantom Thread” marks veteran actor Daniel Day Lewis’ swan song, and his final role has earned him his presumably final best actor nomination playing fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock. However, since “Phantom Thread” has not really garnered that much buzz, it’s unlikely Day Lewis’ swan song will get him a fourth Oscar.

“Get Out” was one of the most talked about movies of last year, and Daniel Kaluuya gave one of the year’s strongest performances as Chris. The movie asks a lot of him, and he yielded a shockingly expressive performance that carries the film. While I assume he will not win, Kaluuya’s nomination in and of itself cements him as a bonafide star.

Starring in everything from “Harry Potter” to “Leon: the Professional” to “The Dark Knight,” Gary Oldman is long overdue for an Oscar. This year, starring in “Darkest Hour” as Winston Churchill, Oldman is nearly unrecognizable as the British political figure similarly to when Jeff Bridges won in 2009 for “Crazy Heart.” It seems as though Oldman will be winning for his impressive filmography and various snubs throughout the years, which is not to say his role as Churchill is not award-worthy.

With James Franco’s exclusion, which may or may not be related to his sexual misconduct allegation, Denzel Washington managed to nab a nomination for his titular role in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” Interestingly, Washington was the dark horse to win last year for his role in “Fences” but lost to Casey Affleck, who also found himself surrounded by allegations of sexual harassment. However, since Oldman is all but a lock at this point, Washington will likely have to wait another year for his third Oscar.

Rounding out the nominees is Timothee Chalamet as Elio in “Call Me By Your Name.” While the film has received criticism for the age gap between its two romantic leads, his performance has been universally praised. Between his role in this film and his supporting role in “Lady Bird,” Chalamet has solidified himself as one of the year’s brightest new stars.

If you are filling in your Oscar ballots, I would recommend going with McDormand and Oldman, with possible upsets from Ronan and Hawkins.

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