It’s fairly slim pickins in the movie lead actor category for 2017, at least compared to the bountiful selection of fine movie actress performances, assessed here.
Who are the Oscars speculators betting on? Probably my top two actor choices (though this week’s accusations against Franco may affect his nomination chances), along with Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman and any other British Acting Institution who didn’t 100 percent embarrass himself in some twee project. (Most did.)
Before listing my own picks, though, note that if you like great acting, you should make every effort to catch Jake Gyllenhaal’s wrenching “Stronger” portrait of a screw-up thrust by tragedy into having to act like a hero and Robert Pattinson’s all-night ride through a New York criminal’s narcissistic id in “Good Time.”
I finally decided, though, that much of last year’s best acting was done in places people who take Oscars seriously are too pretentious to appreciate. That most of those performances happen to have been in imaginary sci-fi realms should not imply that I’m a hopeless genre fanboy, either.
Repeat: I’m not a hopeless genre fanboy!
But man, those were some cool characters. Here are my picks from favorite to not quite as favorite:
James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”): Directing himself (along with a scrupulous restaging of the bad movie he made a good movie about), Golden Globe winner and latest sexual misconduct accusee Franco took the time to get behind the impenetrable weirdo facade of “The Room’s” Tommy Wiseau and find the frightened failure within. All while maintaining the most bizarre accent and attitudes in a town – Hollywood – that’s crawling with them. No one commits to misguided egos like Franco; his Alien from “Spring Breakers” remains the most realistically ridiculous gangsta in cinema history. Tommy’s from the same species, but on a wavelength all his own. Franco may be the only other human who can accurately hear it.
Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”): Playing a really smart, gifted teenager in a natural way must be one of the toughest tasks an actor can pull off, right? If not, why can’t I think of another performance that vibrated with anything like Chalamet’s persuasive intelligence, confusion, passion and vulnerability? Toss in how Elio here wrestles with his growing gay desire while trying to please, as far as he can, that French girl who likes him, and you’ve got a kid who,…