As Sarah noted in today’s open, the Oscar Academy’s Governors Awards took place this weekend recognising Michael J. Fox, Diane Warren, Peter Weir, and Euzhan Palcy who all received honourary Oscars. This year’s Oscar race, however, is heating up. Which is why so many of the contenders were in attendance. 


Let’s start with the Best Actor category because it feels pretty wide open right now because there is no unanimous frontrunner. There are three actors who look like they’re locked in for nominations, but I don’t know that any of the three are firmly in the lead: Brendan Fraser, Colin Farrell, and Austin Butler. 

Brendan, as Sarah has covered over the last few months, is the feel-good story of the season. He’s riding a wave of public affection, this is being called his comeback, this is often a winning narrative. But The Whale isn’t playing all that well and it’s possible that he could be the only nominee from the film which means he won’t benefit from an overall boost unlike some of the other actors in the field.

Like Colin Farrell, who won Best Actor in Venice (where The Whale also premiered) for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin. Both Colin and Brendan Gleeson are in the running in the Actor and Supporting categories, director Martin McDonagh is in the chat for Best Director, the screenplay also has a chance for a nomination, and many experts are predicting that the film will also be nominated as one of the ten for Best Picture. And Colin and Gleeson were at the Governors Awards on Saturday which indicates that they’re willing to put in the effort to campaign. 


And then there’s the youngest member of the cohort, Austin Butler. People were predicting a nomination for him the moment Elvis started screening back in May. The Oscars haven’t always been accommodating for young actors in the Best Actor category. Young actresses are often rewarded but actors are typically asked to wait for it. Adrien Brody is the only actor under 30 who’s ever won the Best Actor Oscar and that was 20 years ago. Austin is currently 31 years old but he looks young, younger perhaps than Adrien did in 2022. I mean, he’s trying with that scruff on his face (it’s for a role), but I’m not really sure it’s helping. 

Interestingly though, Austin has been pretty quiet on the campaign trail until this weekend. In fact, he hasn’t really been campaigning at all while the others have been much more prominent. That’s partly because of his work schedule but I also wonder if that might be strategic. As the youngest member of the group, you don’t want to come off too thirsty for the nomination. If this is the game plan, it’s a good one. 


But like I said, it’s wide open, nobody is a lock. And there are still two spots open! Sarah said earlier in the race that this was a weak year for Best Actor contenders and we’re seeing that now, especially in comparison to the Best Actress race. Brendan Fraser, Colin Farrell, and Austin Butler seem secure for nominations but for the final two spots, it’s much less clear. Bill Nighy is a possibility and also Hugh Jackman, though I’m not sure there’s much momentum for either of them and… well… there’s always Tom Cruise. If we’re talking momentum, it’s definitely there for Top Gun: Maverick in the Best Picture category. It’s the biggest movie of the year (so far) and, for the sake of the ratings, the Oscars want to include movies that people have actually seen. I know, I know, it’s a longshot for Maverick, but that’s where Mav lives! On the edge! Two weeks ago The Hollywood Reporter put Tom on their (early) prediction list: 


Like I said, those fourth and fifth spots are pretty competitive right now…although Tom has been the most absent from the campaign circuit so if he is campaigning, he’s doing it behind the scenes. He was not at the Governors Awards on Saturday and over the last decade-plus, he’s been largely absent from the Hollywood event scene. Very curious to see how he’ll approach this. Don’t count out Pete Mitchell…

And don’t count out Jeremy Pope! The Inspection just opened this past week and he’s getting strong reviews for his performance. If those two remaining spots are indeed up for taking, now is good time for him to start generating some buzz. Also…the carpets during award season could use him for the excitement. This look! 

Jeremy Pope attends the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 13th Governors Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on November 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California