- The Academy Awards Best Actor race is on, with Joaquin Phoenix leading the odds
- A smattering of other performances could sneak out a win, notably Adam Driver
- Who will take the gold statue home on February 9, 2020?
Joaquin Phoenix has certainly left audiences stunned after his jaw-dropping performance in Joker. But is this the type of performance that has what it takes for Oscar gold?
It definitely worked for Heath Ledger, posthumously, when he won the Oscar for playing Joker in The Dark Knight. But many different factors are at play in this year’s race for Best Actor.
The award could be Joaquin’s for the taking, but it’s still early in the game. There are, after all, a plethora of other impressive performances in the running for Best Actor. Let’s take a look and break down the odds at this point in the game.
2020 Academy Award Best Actor Odds
|Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
|Adam Driver (The Marriage Story)
|Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)
|Field (Any Other)
|Robert De Niro (The Irishman)
|Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)
|Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)
|Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)
|Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon A Time in Hollywood)
|Brad Pitt (Ad Astra)
|Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn)
|Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
|Taron Egerton (Rocketman)
|Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari)
Odds taken Oct. 29
Smile Like You Mean It
Phoenix’s Joker has created quite the splash, easily the most iconic and memorable performance of the year by a long shot. It’s also listed among the favorites to win Best Picture. But just because a character is bankable as a Halloween costume and merchandise fodder doesn’t necessarily make for an Oscar-worthy moment.
Typically, comic book fare is not your standard Oscar-ready performance. Some of the highest performing films (here’s looking at you, Avengers) don’t stand a chance at the Oscars. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
But then, Joker isn’t your average comic book adaptation, and that’s what makes the film so powerful. Taking something that often has the tendency to be goofy or light and making it deep and dramatic is no small feat. And given that the film relies solely on Phoenix’s performance makes his role quite impactful.
A Driving Force
But keep in mind, Oscar season isn’t over just yet. In fact, some of the films being talked about for nominations haven’t even been released yet! Early buzz at film festivals has made some performances ones to watch even before their general theatrical release date.
Some of the films being talked about for nominations haven’t even been released yet.
The big one on the block is Adam Driver’s performance in The Marriage Story. Driver’s career trajectory has been impressive over the past couple of years. All he needed was the right vehicle to land him in nomination territory.
It’s still doubtful that Driver’s performance will be able to unseat Phoenix. It’s for a film that isn’t as widely appreciated, and his role is a bit more generic than Phoenix’s genre-busting Joker.
Other stars in this category include Robert De Niro for The Irishman, Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name, and Brad Pitt for Ad Astra. None of these performances are career bests, though. So it’s unlikely to see any of these impressive stars walking to claim a trophy for these roles.
A few longshots fill the category as well, like Tom Hanks’ performance as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and unlikely candidate Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. It’s fun to think of these stars winning for respective reasons, but the Academy is a lot more cut and dry in their choices.
Pick: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) (-225)