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Nicolas Cage, Matt Damon, Winston Duke – Best Actor Oscar Contenders

The Oscar season might not have formally begun, however three gifted main males — Nicolas Cage (“Pig“), Matt Damon (“Stillwater“) and Winston Duke (“Nine Days“) — are all delivering awards-worthy performances in three very unconventional motion pictures. More likely to face an uphill battle on the awards circuit, the appropriate marketing campaign and assist from critics may assist them acquire some traction within the awards sport.

It’s time all of us have a critical speak about Nicolas Cage. It must be no shock that he delivers a fantastically affecting flip as Rob, a truffle forager who hunts the one who stole his beloved pig, and but, some nonetheless discover Cage extra worthy of memes than trophies. The 57-year-old actor’s overstuffed filmography is filled with each field workplace successes (“The Rock” and “Face/Off”) and demanding misfires (“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” and “Windtalkers”). Cage’s media persona performs up his zany antics, and absolutely Andy Samberg’s iconic “Get within the Cage” segments on “Saturday Evening Dwell” didn’t assist both, so cinephiles may neglect how succesful a performer he’s. (i.e., “Matchstick Males” and “Dangerous Lieutenant: Port of Name New Orleans”).

In fact, Cage is already an Academy Award winner for “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995), through which he portrayed an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who strikes to Las Vegas to drink himself to dying. He even picked up a second nomination for his flip as twins Charlie and Donald in Spike Jonze’s “Adaptation” (2002). Early on, some voters might have written off “Pig” attributable to Cage’s inconsistent observe document. However after it received near-universal reward from critics, Neon’s drama could possibly be a contender for appearing and even for debut filmmaker Michael Sarnoski, who could possibly be a viable contender for the DGA for the first-time characteristic class.

One other Oscar darling, Matt Damon, is getting one other chomp on the awards bit for his work in Tom McCarthy’s “Stillwater” as an Oklahoma father making an attempt to show his daughter’s innocence for homicide. Damon has dipped into a number of classes on the Oscars: He received for authentic screenplay along with his greatest pal Ben Affleck for writing “Good Will Searching” (1997) and was nominated for greatest actor the identical yr. Along with one different lead appearing nom for “The Martian” (2015), he’s been nominated in supporting actor (“Invictus”) and in greatest image for co-producing “Manchester by the Sea.” He additionally has a few snubs underneath his belt — “The Proficient Mr. Ripley” (1999) and “True Grit” (2010). Given the three appearing nominations, it’s exhausting to say he’s “overdue” for an Oscar, however the trophy has proved elusive over his three-decade profession. Kenneth Branagh, an actor, director, author and producer, with a number of noms and nonetheless Oscar-less, is in an analogous boat (coincidentally, Branagh is directing one other Focus movie, “Belfast”).

As unhinged journalists and trade insiders whine about “cancel tradition” and “wokeness” infringing upon artwork (spoiler alert: it isn’t), “Stillwater” reveals a Trump supporter navigating a altering society, highlighted in Damon’s closing line, “All of it seems to be completely different.” It’s the alternative of what was tried with “Hillbilly Elegy” final yr, the place a enterprise capitalist disingenuously makes an attempt to equate his struggles to others. The outcome was a poorly obtained movie that also someway resulted in an Oscar nomination for Glenn Shut, exhibiting that not everybody agrees on motion pictures…and that’s okay.

As audiences uncover “Stillwater,” it’s too quickly to say whether or not the remarks from Amanda Knox will have an effect on the movie or if audiences will likely be sympathetic to Damon’s conservative character. He’ll additionally face many massive names within the coming months — Benedict Cumberbatch, Will Smith, Denzel Washington — so a strong marketing campaign will likely be essential. Nonetheless, it bodes nicely that “Stillwater” is the first official Academy screening set to take place this upcoming weekend.

Audiences could also be witnessing the start of a brand new Hollywood main man as individuals get their eyes on Winston Duke in Edson Oda’s beautiful and soulfully ingenious “9 Days.” Most well-known for enjoying M’Baku in “Black Panther” and with solely 5 movies underneath his belt to date, Duke could be confidently added to a rising listing of Black males in Hollywood who must be main extra movie tasks. Alongside two majestic turns from his co-stars Zazie Beetz and Impartial Spirit Award nominee Benedict Wong, you witness author and director Oda’s Terrence Malick-esque sensibilities, that are extra grounded for common viewers accessibility, thus permitting his actors to ship heartfelt interpretations.

Not too many actors of shade have had alternatives to discover characters working in visible media, ones which might be cerebral or have them questioning their existence, their world and their masculinity. Sony Footage Classics might discover it difficult to enter the awards dialog with this challenge, however they’ve achieved some spectacular feats earlier than with arthouse fare. Take a look at authentic screenplay winner “Discuss to Her” (2002), the perfect actress nominated “Elle” (2016) and the latest actor and tailored screenplay winner “The Father” (2020). At this level within the yr, it’s straightforward to say that Duke offers the perfect main male efficiency thus far. With tons extra to come back, let’s see if the awards voters are prepared to welcome an eclectic crop of main males.

All three of those movies are open in choose theaters.

2022 Academy Awards Predictions

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