Oscars Best Actor nominees

Oscars 2016 predictions: can anyone stop Leonardo DiCaprio from winning Best Actor?

Best Actor: the nominees

  • Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
  • Matt Damon (The Martian)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
  • Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
  • Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Even Oscar agnostics can tell you the 2016 ceremony is all about the long-awaited Anointing of Leonardo DiCaprio, whose grunting, snuffling, gurn-a-minute work in The Revenant has become this year’s deadest cert.

Academy members love these transformative, pioneering Krypton-Factor-crawls towards redemption anyway, as DiCaprio knows all too well: he lost two years ago to a humdinger of the form from Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. But combine that with the general perception that this four-time bridesmaid’s hour is overdue, and you get oatcakes-in-the-Sahara levels of Oscar thirst. If they won’t vote for DiCaprio after he ate raw bison liver and was washed down a semi-frozen river, runs the thinking, what on earth would it take?

Leo DiCaprio: 'Insane beautiful blur' making The Revenant Play! 01:16

As such, there’s been an element of the guilt trip to The Revenant’s generally flawless awards-season campaign, which has paid off: DiCaprio has already won the Bafta, the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors’ Guild prize. A run of form like that makes Sunday night’s envelope-opening a formality.

‘Long-deserved and worked his heart out’ is a tough Oscar narrative to overturn, so it’s not surprising that none of DiCaprio’s rivals have managed. In these situations, just being better isn’t enough – which may be some comfort to Michael Fassbender, whose portrayal of the mildly sociopathic tech guru Steve Jobs in Danny Boyle’s biopic is comfortably the best work in the category.

Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs

For a few golden weeks in September, after Steve Jobs’s world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, Fassbender was the frontrunner. But his performance’s lack of lookalikey showmanship counted against it, as did the film’s well-documented box-office woes.

Eddie Redmayne’s win last year for The Theory of Everything rules him out, although his work in The Danish Girl ticks both the ‘pioneering character’ and ‘transformative role’ boxes. So too, technically, does Bryan Cranston’s in Trumbo, but he’s here by the skin of his teeth, and he knows it.

Eddie Redmayne profile - in 90 seconds Play! 01:41

The black sheep is Matt Damon, giving the only old-fashioned, truly movie-star-like performance, and in the only film not to be based on a true story to boot. Unluckily for him, both of those things are out of fashion.

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