Who’s in the lead for Best Actor?


There’s less than a month to go until the 2021 Oscars, and the race is heating up.

The Producers Guild just named “Nomadland” best picture of the year, meaning it’s a shoo-in for the top Oscar. And the Screen Actors Guild Awards will air Sunday and cement the front-runners in the four acting categories.

One field you should not expect any surprises in, however, is Best Actor. This week in Gold Digger, The Post’s breakdown of the Oscars contest, we tell you where those five men stand going into the April 25 Academy Awards.

1. Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman in a scene from "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."
Chadwick Boseman is nominated for a posthumous Oscar for his spitfire role as Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
David Lee/Netflix

Expectations were sky-high for Boseman’s final role — and they were exceeded to say the least. The “Black Panther” star died last August of colon cancer at age 43, and filmed “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in summer of 2019, three years after his diagnosis. For his thunderous performance as Levee, a trumpet player in 1920s Chicago with big dreams, Boseman has already won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama and is nominated by a slew of other bodies, including the Screen Actors Guild, BAFTAs and many critics groups. He’d probably still win if he were alive, but the Oscars will want to honor a major talent gone too soon.

2. Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins plays a man suffering from dementia, whose reality changes over and over again, in “The Father.”
©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett

The veteran of this category — at 83 he’s 20 years older than Gary Oldman — Hopkins hasn’t won an Oscar since he took home Best Actor for his legendary performance as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” He’s been nominated five times since, including last year for “The Two Popes.” For playing a pop suffering from dementia in “The Father,” he’s won a fair few critics awards. But the usual rationale of awarding someone of Hopkins’ stature (a titanic performance in his later years) is undone by Boseman’s premature death. If Hopkins wins, it would probably lead to a Change.org petition.

3. Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed in "Sound of Metal."
Riz Ahmed plays a drummer whose life is forever changed when he loses his hearing in “Sound of Metal.”
©Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collec

It took a while for “Sound of Metal” to jump into the Oscars conversation, but lately admiration for Ahmed’s turn as a rocker who one day loses his hearing has exploded. Viewers have become more accustomed to seeing the actor in action films such as “Nightcrawler,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Venom” over Oscar bait. Now, he’s beginning to bring the distinguished skill seen in TV’s “The Night Of” to movies — and he’s been rewarded with Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nods. Still, the only way he wins here is if there are shocker split affections for Hopkins and Boseman.

4. Steven Yeun

Steven Yeun’s Best Actor Oscar nod is one of six for the acclaimed Korean-American film “Minari.”
Courtesy Everett Collection

“Minari” is racing up awards season pundits’ lists in all categories, since it managed Oscars nods for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay and Score. That means, across the board, voters love it. But Yeun, while terrific, isn’t the performance everybody is talking about. That would be Yuh-Jung Youn as his mother-in-law who comes to his Arkansas farm from South Korea. Her chances for a winning night are much stronger than Yeun’s.

5. Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman portrays Herman Mankiewicz in a scene from "Mank."
Gary Oldman drinks, jokes and viciously debates his friends as the legendary screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz in David Fincher’s “Mank.”

Being a familiar face at an awards show isn’t always a plus. Example: Gary Oldman. Although he’s excellent as “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz in “Mank,” there is an unshakable vibe of “Him again?”. Oldman was nominated in 2011 for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and won in 2018 for his fat-suited Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour.” This time, it’s an honor just to be nominated. “Mank” is the most-nominated film this year with 10 nods. But the black-and-white Netflix film will lose most of them, including Best Actor.


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