A couple weeks ago, I kicked off my Oscars 2024 (also known as the 96th Academy Awards) predictions with a look at Picture and Director. Now it’s time to peek at the performances we might be talking about in a few months. There’s still little to be known for most of these films. A trailer here, rumors of a private screening there. But some have debuted at Sundance or are scheduled to play at Cannes. Soon, we will have more than just a hunch to go by.
In the meantime, let’s look over some of the bigger Oscar prospects and give an initial shot of predicting the four acting categories.
This just might be the year of Bradley Cooper. Cooper has nine nominations across four different categories (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay) and is yet to win. A nomination for Maestro – in which Cooper plays the legendary composer, Leonard Bernstein – would be his fourth in the Lead Actor category. An overdue performer starring in a passion project biopic about a huge figure in the industry? Sign me up for his award chances. Along with a variety of other nominations he could receive for Maestro (Cooper produced, directed, and co-wrote the film), it’s his performance that I will be betting on to bring him his first statue. It doesn’t hurt that Cooper gives a memorable voice performance as Rocket Raccoon in James Gunn’s third installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise this year as well.
Speaking of biopics, we will once again have an abundance to choose from this year. Following Oscar films like Elvis and Blonde, 2023 will continue to bring us a few prospects playing real-life people. The one I am most excited about? Cillian Murphy, as the titular theoretical physicist in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Murphy – who has starred in supporting roles in a bevy of Nolan films – steps into a lead part, playing the enigmatic and morally oppressed scientist responsible for the development of the atomic bomb. Lots of emotional material to work with, and a subject that often interests Academy voters. I am beyond excited to see Murphy tackle this portrayal.
Other films with biopic centers include Michael Mann’s Ferrari, with Adam Driver as the famed Italian car maker; Joaquin Phoenix as French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon; Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister, in Golda; Regina King plays Shirley Chisholm, America’s first Black congresswoman, in John Ridley’s Shirley; Ryan Destiny stars as a boxer competing for the Olympics in Rachel Morrison’s directorial debut, Flint Strong; Kingsley Ben-Adir plays reggae legend Bob Marley in Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Bob Marley: One Love; and Colman Domingo plays gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin in George C. Wolfe’s Rustin. There are many more lined up, but you get the gist.
While Cooper is reaching the overdue status, he’s hardly the most long delayed of this year’s contenders. I’d argue that title for Annette Bening, a four-time nominee who is yet to win. She plays Diana Nyad, the real-life long-distance swimmer famous for being the first to swim from Cuba to Florida. Could be an inspirational sports film, perhaps like King Richard or The Blind Side – two films that won Oscars for their lead performances.
Bening might be up against some tough competition, though. Fantasia Barrino is the likely frontrunner out the gate. She is playing Celie in The Color Purple, a role made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1985 Spielberg film. Blitz Bazawule is adapting the Broadway musical version which saw LaChanze (2006) and Cynthia Erivo (2016) win Tonys for their performance as Celie. An awards-worthy performance in an awards-worthy film could be lights out for the rest of the field.
Another overdue thespian, Willem Dafoe, will have a chance with Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things. Dafoe plays Dr. Goodwin Baxter, a brilliant and unorthodox scientist who brings a young woman (Emma Stone) back from the dead. Sounds like something along the lines of a Dr. Frankenstein type role.
Those are the main contenders I will be hoping deliver the goods. Of course, who we are rooting for all changes once the pictures have been seen.
Here are my initial predictions in the four acting categories. You can find the full lists on the Good As Gold page here.
- Bradley Cooper (Maestro)
- Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)
- Colman Domingo (Rustin)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (Killers of the Flower Moon)
- Adam Driver (Ferrari)
- Fantasia Barrino (The Color Purple)
- Natalie Portman (May December)
- Annette Bening (Nyad)
- Emma Stone (Poor Things)
- Greta Lee (Past Lives)
- Willem Dafoe (Poor Things)
- Jesse Plemons (Killers of the Flower Moon)
- John Magaro (Past Lives)
- Austin Butler (Dune: Part 2)
- Ryan Gosling (Barbie)
- Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)
- Taraji P. Henson (The Color Purple)
- Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)
- Viola Davis (Air)
- Jodie Foster (Nyad)
Who are some of your early acting predictions?