The Best Actor race is a little tricky to predict this year. There really are only 2 locks, Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington. The other 3 spots are still very much in play. The best way to start building our list is to look at the SAG nominations.

Best Actor SAG Nominees:
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea): People were calling Affleck a lock for a nomination right after Manchester premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. He has maintained that momentum all year. So far he has won a whopping 28 separate critics awards and many have not been announced yet. He will get a nomination and most likely the win. He does have a few things going against him. He was accused of sexual harassment during the filming of I’m Still Here in 2009. Some voters may have difficulty rewarding Affleck with this hanging over his head. The other obstacle is Denzel Washington. 

Denzel Washington (Fences): No question that Washington’s performance is one of the best of the year. Films that are adapted from plays rely heavily on the actors to carry the film and Denzel Washington knocks it out of the park. No baseball pun intended. He does already have 2 Academy Awards and they hurt his chances of winning against a first timer like Affleck. Denzel will get a nomination, but not a win. 

Ryan Gosling (La La Land): Gosling learned how to play the piano for this role. He not only had to learn to play but he had to learn how to play great. Not an easy task. The movie feels like it’s Emma Stone’s character’s story more than it is Gosling’s but La La Land’s Best Picture frontrunner status, puts him in the running. 

This is where it gets difficult.

Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge): The movie has mixed reviews, but a few things work for Garfield. First, he should have been nominated for The Social Network. He is in Silence, another big film this year that may not make it into the Oscars, but 2 strong performances in one year help. He also has a Golden Globe Nomination. 

Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic): He got that SAG nomination and that is a big deal. I’m not sure if this role will translate as well with the Oscars. It certainly puts him in the conversation. 

Tom Hanks (Sully): Hanks plays another hero in a real life story. He is always good, but this is far from a showy role. The real Sully Sullenberger is a low key guy and Hanks played it perfectly. It might be too low key to get a nomination, but Hanks is so natural as Sullenburger, he just might make it in. 

Joel Edgerton (Loving): Just like Ruth Negga’s role in the same film, this is small performance. It would be awesome if Edgerton received a nomination but The Academy like big showy hero type roles. This is not that. 

This is how the nominations for Best Actor look now:

Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
Denzel Washington-Fences
Ryan Gosling-La La Land
Andrew Garfield-Hacksaw Ridge or Silence
Viggo Mortensen-Captain Fantastic