2017 Oscar Nominations: Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor

This year has given us an interesting mix of Academy Award nominees.  In the Actor categories, we have previous winners, previous nominees, and a strong showing by first-time nominees.  There are critics’ choices, sentimental favorites, and a few who make us think “it’s about time he got noticed and awarded.”

The movies featuring these actors are also a mix of comedy-drama, drama, thriller, and even musical.  But what I find most heartening is that most of the films are about challenges faced at various times of our lives.  Standing up for what we believe.  Caring about family and friends.  Looking out for others.  Making big mistakes.  Deciding where your future and your passions lie.

You probably have your favorites in the lists below.  Even if you haven’t seen the films, you’ve likely seen these actors in other movies and have your preferences.

Best Actor

Casey AffleckManchester by the Sea – Affleck is celebrating a banner year in his career.  Previously nominated for Supporting Actor for 2008’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the actor has solidified his reputation with several nominations for Manchester by the Sea.  Playing a man suddenly finding himself guardian to his orphaned nephew, Affleck has nods from Screens Actors Guild and Independent Spirit awards, and wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTA.

Andrew GarfieldHacksaw Ridge – This is Garfield’s first Oscar nomination.  With previous roles in 99 Homes, The Social Network, and The Amazing Spider-man, Garfield has established himself as a strong dramatic actor.  In Hacksaw Ridge, he plays Desmond Doss, a true-life WWII conscientious objector and battlefield medic who becomes a hero.  He has received nominations for Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG for this movie.

Ryan GoslingLa La Land – Gosling has been a favorite in movies for some time now.  He has done a variety of films, from comedy to drama to action/adventure to thrillers.  In La La Land, Gosling has now taken on musicals, winning acclaim as a jazz musician.   Gosling has one previous Oscar nod for Half-Nelson.  The movie has brought Gosling his second lead actor nomination.  Also nominated for BAFTA and SAG awards, he won the Golden Globe for La La Land.

Viggo MortensenCaptain Fantastic – Most of us will always think of Mortensen as Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  But he has played an amazing variety of characters, both hero and villain.  In the comedy-drama Captain Fantastic, Mortensen portrays a man who has decided to withdraw from the materialistic world and raise his children away from the cities.  The movie has earned him critical praise and his second lead actor Academy Award (the first was for Eastern Promises).  In addition, Mortensen has been nominated for BAFTA, SAG, Golden Globe, and Spirit awards.

Denzel WashingtonFences – It should come as no surprise that Washington has been here before.   He has two Supporting nods with one win for Glory.  This is his fifth Lead Actor nomination, with a previous win for Training Day.  For Fences, Washington took on the task of producing, directing, and starring in the film based on the award-winning play by August Wilson.  As Troy, a man driven by problems of the past and strained relationships with his wife and son, Washington has earned his seventh Oscar nomination.  He also had a Golden Globe nomination and a SAG win.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala AliMoonlight – While he has acted in numerous films and TV series, Ali’s role in Moonlight has given him the role of a lifetime.  As a drug dealer who finds sympathy for a little boy who is bullied by others and abused by his mother, Ali brought depth to what might have been a stereotypical role.  With a SAG win and nominations for Golden Globe and BAFTA, Ali might score a win with his first Academy Award nomination.

Jeff BridgesHell or High Water – The true veteran of the Supporting Actor group, Bridges has received his seventh Oscar nomination for the modern-day western Hell or High Water.  A previous winner for Lead Actor in Crazy Heart, he takes a supporting role in a modern-day Western as a Texas Ranger on the trail of bank-robbing brothers.  Bridges has also gotten nods from Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG.  This time he may join the ranks of other actors – including Denzel Washington -- who’ve received both Lead and Supporting Oscars.

Lucas HedgesManchester by the Sea – Hedges is a relative newcomer to film, making his debut in less than 10 years ago.  But he has definitely made an impact as a teenager whose life is turned upside down by the death of his father – and hope he finds in a renewed relationship with his uncle.  While this is his first Oscar nomination, Hedges also earned nominations for SAG, the Spirit Awards, and BAFTA Rising Star.

Dev PatelLion – Patel came to the attention of movie fans in Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  In the true-life story of Saroo Brierly, a young man searching for his birth family, Patel has moved hearts and won accolades.  This is his first Oscar nomination.  He has also received nods from Golden Globes and SAG – and a win at the BAFTAs.

Michael ShannonNocturnal Animals – This is Shannon’s second Academy Award nomination, his first being for Supporting Actor in Revolutionary Road.  A presence in movies and TV for many years, he has received notices for strong performances.  In Nocturnal Animals, Shannon is part of a story within a story, playing a police detective investigating the murder of two women.  He could be the dark horse winner of the Oscar this year.

So fill out your Oscar scorecard and get ready for the envelope.


Flickr: CC          : Pixar Oscar          Photo by Marcin Wichary