News/Entertainment/Leonardo DiCaprio to Cillian Murphy: Who's leading the Best Actor race to Oscars

Let's take a look at the Best Actor race for the Oscars, with predictions heating up after the fall festival premieres.

Ankur Shukla| 2023-09-15 22:04:08

It looks like Leonardo DiCaprio is moving ahead as a front runner in the Best Actor race this year for his second Oscar. The actor's performance in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon was universally hailed by critics and audiences at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film played out of competition and ended up receiving a nine-minute long standing ovation. DiCaprio, who won the Oscar for his leading turn in The Revenant and was last nominated for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is an industry favorite and it will be interesting to see who emerges out of the Fall Festival circut to challenge him. (Also read: Emma Stone to Sandra Hüller: Decoding the Best Actress frontrunners for the Oscars)

But even before the question arises out of Fall Festival premieres, there was already another name that was the subject of everyone's attention. Cillian Murphy, who has never been nominated, cut through all expectations with the blockbuster success of Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. Critics and audiences particularly noted the haunted turn by Murphy- who easily gives the performance of his career in the film. The Academy loves a biopic-reserved performance as much as it likes the conversation around the actor themselves, and Cillian Murphy has it both.

The lead actor race to the Oscars sharpened more with the arrival of new premieres at Venice, Toronto and Telluride. Nine time Academy nominee Bradley Cooper burst into the scene with Maestro, his sophomore directorial in which he stars as the musical legend Leonard Bernstein. Although the chatter was somehow hurt with the backlash for wearing a large prosthetic nose that many called to be enabling the 'Jewface' stereotype in Hollywood, the glowing reviews more or less smoothened the conversation out. Cooper is long overdue and this is a very awards-friendly performance too- so it will be interesting to see how Netflix pushes the campaign ahead.

At Venice, the Volpi Cup for Best Actor was won by Peter Sarsgaard, for Michel Franco's romantic drama Memory, that also stars Jessica Chastain. Sarsgaard has never been nominated, but has been in the industry for over two decades. Could this be the year when the Academy finally recognizes him?

The surprise that took off immediately after the Telluride premiere of Andrew Haigh's surreal gay drama All Of Us Strangers. Andrew Scott's mesmerizing turn as a screenwriter reuniting with his dead parents received universal acclaim. The actor, who charmed his hats off as the Hot Priest in Fleabag just a few years, is the indie pick of this year. Let's also not forget the favours that add in his favour. Just last year, his All Of Us Strangers co-star Paul Mescal slipped his way into a surprise Best Actor nomination for his performance in Aftersun, which was a small, critically acclaimed debut. Then, it was also Andrew Haigh's 45 Years, who directed Charlotte Rampling, an universally acclaimed performance that clinched its way to an Oscar nomination just a few years ago. Could the odds be in the favour this year as well?

Some of the other names that are also vying for the slot include Colman Domigo for Rustin, Glen Powell for Hitman, Paul Giamatti for The Holdovers, Jeffrey Wright for American Fiction, Gael García Bernal for Cassandro, and Barry Keoghan for Saltburn.

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