Academy of One: Best Actor in a Leading Role 2016

These are my opinions and feelings. I do not represent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and I have no power to revoke or award Academy Awards. Consider this an alternate universe, where everything is the same except which movies get recognition and which should fade out. Also, SPOILER ALERT! I may be spilling major details about several films.

In doing this blog I’ve found that the wealth of performances by lead actors is bottomless, but the actual percentage of those deserving of high praise is dependent on the year’s crop of films.

I think all of the men nominated in this category are exemplary (maybe not in their personal lives, looking at you Casey Affleck). Two of them even gave alternatively great performances, also worthy of praise, this same year. Andrew Garfield in Silence and Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys. Both showed an excellent range of talents, but we’re not here to talk about roles they weren’t nominated for, so here’s the list of nominees as of now.

  • Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea

  • Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge

  • Ryan Gosling - La La Land

  • Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic

  • Denzel Washington - Fences

Despite the pedigree of this list, I do feel I have a list of others that can contend in this category. Here are my possibilities.

  • Joel Edgerton - Loving

  • Colin Farrell - The Lobster

  • Parker Sawyer - Southside with You

Joel Edgerton, when given the right role, can completely disappear. He’s able to work his way into the conscience of the character and build out from there. It’s impressive to watch and he is at his peak in Loving.

How do I write about a movie like The Lobster? Well, you start by writing Colin Farrell is spectacular as a man willing to do anything for the possibility of conforming into society where it is compulsory to be paired off. The character is a tragic figure and Farrell is able to put a little complicated humanity into the mix.

It’s hard to imagine playing a version of a president as a citizen, before the trappings of office, much less as president is still in office when the film comes out, but Parker Sawyer has captured something magical in his portrayal of a young Barack Obama.

O.K., after a lot of thought, I can’t see my choices upending any of the nominees that are already on the list. So, the field stands intact. Here’s the list of nominees again.

  • Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea

  • Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge

  • Ryan Gosling - La La Land

  • Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic

  • Denzel Washington - Fences

I choose to spoil this for you now, my choice isn’t Casey Affleck. So, the question is, is my choice perennial dark horse Viggo Mortensen? Short answer, no.

My choice is the greatest actor of all time, Denzel Washington. You may think that’s a bold statement, but have you watched this performance, really watched it?

Washington is so smooth in his delivery, so subtle in movement, that his transition of this role from stage to screen is made more impactful by the introduction of the camera.

The dense dialogue is able to breathe in the open air of the film set and Washington takes full advantage of the space and movement. He practically leaps off the screen. His physical presence is felt in every scene he’s in and he uses it as part of the character.

It’s a great performance and a true showcase for all that Denzel Washington can do with a role.

All right, it looks like they’ve started the music. That wraps us up for this week. So, between now and next week you can find me on Twitter @zyoungs108, you can like my Facebook page @zachyoungswrites, and visit my website, www.zachyoungs.com for links to where you can buy my self-published works.

Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to dive in with you next Friday with the nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for 2016.

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