Does Bradley Cooper Have A Shot At Winning Best Actor?
Well, we know how Sean Penn would vote in the Best Actor Oscar race, if he were a member of the Academy. In an op-ed for Deadline, Academy Award winner Penn wrote an invective explaining why A Star Is Born deserves to win it all. Penn especially heaped praise onto Bradley Cooper, the movie's director, writer, and star. "He's made the most successful contemporary love story of all time," Penn pronounced, while encouraging voters to participate in commending the movie while they can.Penn was compelled to write this op-ed simply because so far voters haven't been commending A Star Is Born, which was considered to be a shoe-in when it first came out last summer. Instead, Rami Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and Christian Bale's in Vice have been battling it out in the Best Actor arena.But it's not over till it's over. After weeks of Bohemian Rhapsody attracting backlash like a magnet, does Cooper still have a dark horse chance of beating the competition at last? Oscars voting closes on February 19. Let's go through the five nominees and see who has a chance.Rami Malek, Bohemian RhapsodyWho he plays: Freddie Mercury, the legendary lead singer of Queen.When he signed on to play Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek couldn't have predicted that he'd also assume the role of PR maven. But over the course of his press tour, Malek has had to speak to the movie's various controversies, from its sanitized depiction of the singer's sexuality to the alleged sins of its director.Still, Bohemian Rhapsody 's problems haven't hindered Malek's awards show momentum. Malek has already won a SAG Award and a BAFTA. By mimicking Mercury's showmanship so well, Malek ends up injects the movie with Mercury's life force. Malek worked with a movement coach to recreate Mercury's memorable performances. What results is undeniably infectious joy — even if Bohemian Rhapsody itself has flaws.Viggo Mortensen, The Green BookWho he plays: Tony "Lip" Vallelonga, the Bronx-born Italian bouncer who drives musician Dr. Don Shirley (Viggo Mortensen) on his tour throughout the Jim Crow South.The Green Book started off as an audience favorite at the Toronto Film Festival, and continued on a charmed path toward award show buzz (even if it didn't perform in the box office). But Mortensen may have ruined his own Best Actor momentum while he made a major misstep during the press tour. While speaking to the racial "progress" America has made in the ensuing decades since Green Book was set, Mortensen used the n-word. He has since apologized, but the incident has become another chapter of the movie's unfolding controversy.Still, perhaps Mortensen has a shot. This is, after all, the year of rewarding transformations in the Best Actor race. Like Bale, Mortensen gained a significant amount of weight to play Tony Lip. That often counts for something to the Academy.Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's GateWho he plays: Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch painter who says he "sees what no one else sees."Vincent van Gogh saw the world differently than everyone else did. This trait, which made his paintings so incredible, is also what caused his mental turmoil — or so At Eternity's Gate argues. In his final years, Dafoe's van Gogh faces the fact that his extraordinary paintings may be situated in the wrong era, that he may never get to experience their positive reception.At Eternity's Gate challenges the conventional notion of van Gogh as a madman. Instead, he's more in tune with the world than the rest of us. The New York Times called this Julian Schnabel vehicle t he definitive Van Gogh biopic , and praised a "magnificent" Dafoe.The Oscars loves a van Gogh tribute — last year's Loving Vincent was nominated for Best Animated Feature. But when compared to the stars of buzzier movies like Vice, A Star Is Born, and Bohemian Rhapsody, Dafoe's odds of actually winning on a small indie film are low. Dafoe was nominated for Golden Globes and Critics Choice Best Actor awards, but lost in both categories.Christian Bale, ViceWho he plays: Dick Cheney over the course of his career, from being a Wyoming deadbeat to a Haliburton CEO to a nefarious Vice President of the United States under George W. Bush's administration.As always, Christian Bale transforms into his character to an astonishing degree. For past roles, Bale has lost weight, gone buff, and packed on a beer belly. Apparently, Bale felt like a "bullfrog" while playing Cheney in the Adam McKay movie. For his transformation, Bale is rewarded by being the front-runner for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Bale already won the Golden Globe.If Bale wins, as he's likely to, we'll be sure to receive an entertaining speech. During his Golden Globe speech, Bale thanked Satan for giving him inspiration.Bradley Cooper, A Star Is BornWho he plays: Jackson Maine, a soulful Americana rocker who's not quite as famous as he once was. After a show, Jackson discovers Ally (Lady Gaga) performing in a drag bar, and knows in an instant she could be a star. As she becomes more famous, their relationship becomes strained.What are Cooper's chances? Well, isn't that the question. Cooper's performance as Jackson Maine is a wonder. First, there's the commitment to actually embodying Jackson, which Cooper loves speaking about in detail — how he trained with a voice coach for hours a day to drop his voice an octave, how he learned to play guitar. Cooper did all this, on top of producing, directing, and writing it. He was the architect of the film. But the performance is more magnificent than the sum of its difficulties. When he stares at Ally, he's really staring. Even though it's fictional, the movie feels real. But are voters sold on the move's emotional realism?Notably, unlike all of the other roles nominated for Best Actor, Jackson Maine is a purely fictional character. The other four nominated characters based on real people (all of whom, aside Vincent van Gogh, were captured on camera). Are Oscar voters more likely to reward a performance for "accuracy," as opposed to making us believe that a fictional person is close to life? A Star Is Born may not win Best Picture, but awarding Bradley Cooper Best Actor would nearly be the same honor.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Bradley Cooper Finally Thanks Irina Shayk For "Putting Up With" His A Star Is Born BehaviorCan These Oscar Presenters Convince You To Watch?The Winners Of The 2019 BAFTA Awards Have Been Announced