Who are the nominees for Best Actor?

Academy Award nomination predictions for Best Actor

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in Room.For our predictions for Best Picture, Director, and screenplays.

Everything about the 2016 Oscars is chaotic. That includes the acting categories. Though both lead categories seem to have safe frontrunners — in The Revenant's Leonardo DiCaprio and Room's Brie Larson — the supporting ones are filled with potential nominees. And this is the first year in a long time when both of the women's acting categories have far more contenders than the men's categories.

Still, we are not cowards, and we don't shrink from a challenge. Here are our nomination predictions for the wildest Oscar pool in ages.

Best Actor

20th Century Fox Leonardo DiCaprio stars in The Revenant.

Normally, Best Actor is one of the most exciting, contentious races. That's not really the case this year. Of the four acting categories, it's by far the least interesting. Late-breaking contenders fizzled out at precursor awards, and the result is a staid list that's essentially been set in stone for a few months now.

My predictions

Categories tend to get stuck in the mud when there's a far-and-away frontrunner, and such is the case with DiCaprio here. Because he's so many people's favorite, the rest of the list will be dominated by second and third choices. Thus, DiCaprio has seemed joined at the hip with Fassbender, Cranston, and Redmayne for a while now.

The one "surprise" I'm predicting is Damon, who missed out at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in favor of Johnny Depp of Black Mass. But The Martian was so huge that I suspect Damon is the next safest bet here, after DiCaprio.

Other possible contenders

Depp, probably. There's been a little noise surrounding Creed's Michael B. Jordan, but probably not enough. The Big Short might have made a tactical error campaigning for Steve Carell here instead of in Supporting, but if the Academy really loves the movie — maybe? Finally, Will Smith could be the wild card for Concussion.

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed.Best Actress

A24 Brie Larson stars in Room.

Curiously, in a super-competitive year for the category (look at my "other possible contenders" section!), the same handful of names keep floating to the top, most of them prior Oscar nominees or winners.

The Oscars had a bevy of Oscar-friendly films about women to choose from this year — and a few less Oscar-friendly films that were, nonetheless, amazing. That I'm predicting the nominees will mostly focus on films about men (as they did last year) should tell you a lot.

Blanchett, Larson, and Ronan have been safe bets for a while now — though Larson's presumed frontrunner status could be hurt by how little traction Room has elsewhere at the Oscars. Lawrence's movie wasn't much loved, but it made money (and, crucially, a lot of it right when Oscar ballots were being mailed in). She's also the biggest star in the world right now, which helps.

Finally, there's Rampling, in a movie nobody saw but one in which she's so good that I have to imagine her placing high on any ballot submitted by its smaller group of viewers. That exact scenario can often yield a nomination in this category.

Where to start? It's unconscionable that Charlize Theron somehow never joined the Mad Max Oscar train. The same goes for Emily Blunt in Sicario. Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van), Lily Tomlin (Grandma), and Blythe Danner (I'll See You in My Dreams) all had memorable roles and are long-running veterans, which Oscar can often warm to. Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back) and Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold) both received SAG nominations for movies that few people saw. Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) both could end up here or (more likely) in the Supporting Actress race. And, hell, nobody liked Suffragette, but Carey Mulligan was great in it.

Best Supporting Actor

Warner Bros. Sylvester Stallone (left) stars in Creed.

This is a battle between two veterans who cannot in any way be called Oscar favorites. One's a major stage actor; the other's a global superstar who decided to try acting for a change. Beyond those two, this category could end up feeling filled at random.

Rylance (the stage actor) and Stallone (the superstar) are the main contenders here. Elba has a chance at spoiling — and would singlehandedly stave off another year of #OscarsSoWhite — but who knows whether Academy voters will have an anti-Netflix bias.

Beyond that, this race is a mess. It's probably down to three names — Bale, Shannon, and Room's Jacob Tremblay — but it's not hard to imagine, say, a couple of Spotlight actors randomly wandering in. I picked Bale and Shannon, who in the past have both received far more surprising nominations than these would be. But who knows?

Tremblay has a shot. Then there are the main Spotlight guys, Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, though the film has had a lot of trouble building momentum for any individual cast member. Paul Dano got some attention for Love & Mercy, but I think the film might be too small. For a while I hoped that Seth Rogen might make it in for Steve Jobs, but alas, I don't think he has a chance. Finally, Benicio del Toro was great in Sicario — but a nod for him seems unlikely.

Best Supporting Actress


Kate Winslet, right, stars in Steve Jobs.
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