Newcomers have a tough task breaking into the old boys’ club of lead acting Oscar nominations.
This year’s contenders include two of last year’s finalists, George Clooney (“Burn After Reading”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Appaloosa,” “The Road”). And then there’s prior Oscar nominees or winners such as Javier Bardem (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Russell Crowe (“Body of Lies”), Benicio Del Toro (“Che”), Clint Eastwood (“Gran Torino”), Sean Penn (“Milk”), Brad Pitt (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Will Smith (“Seven Pounds”) – more than enough names to fill a ballot.
Leonardo DiCaprio has two films in play, though campaign efforts will likely rally behind “Revolutionary Road” rather than “Body of Lies.” Similarly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s camp might choose his “Doubt” performance over “Synecdoche, New York.” Meanwhile, “The Soloist” could offer two lead options in Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx.
That’s more than a dozen candidates before you even get to Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler,” a performance that has already been lauded as comeback of the year. Or Frank Langella, whom many felt was overlooked for 2007’s “Starting Out in the Evening;” he could see that snub work to his advantage for this year’s “Frost/Nixon” (which also offers Michael Sheen). And this year’s Langella might be Richard Jenkins for his widely praised but less-seen performance in “The Visitor.”
As the male lead in “Australia,” the film with perhaps the most Academy-friendly epic scope, Hugh Jackman has to be in the discussion. It might only be October, but the lead actor field is already crowded.