It would’ve been nice to see Simon Rex get some love here for his performance in Red Rocket, but I’m also unsurprised that the suits in the Academy didn’t recognize how brilliant his performance was. While I think Best Actress definitely has more exciting nominee options, this category is also a fun one to watch.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick Boom
Will Smith, King Richard
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
- Bardem. As always, Bardem crushed this role; the small nuances of his voice, his burst of rage, it’s all so lived-in and believable. This being said, I don’t think the range of emotions we got from Bardem is wider than some of these other nominees, so if he has to settle for runner-up I wouldn’t be surprised.
- Cumberbatch. I just don’t get the appeal here. He did his best with what he was given, sure, but I think the role was simply not a well-written one and that directly affected his performance. I never felt connected to this character/the stakes etc. Just really fell flat for me. Better luck next time, ‘batch.
- Garfield. Garfield is a fantastic actor, but if anything holds him back from getting an Oscar, it’ll be movies like this. I get it, Lin Manuel Miranda is used to doing stage stuff, but it just didn’t work. This kind of play-it-for-the-back-row, over the top sort of acting isn’t for me. Didn’t enjoy it, but once again I think that’s the director/writers’ fault, not so much on Garfield.
- Washington. All I can say is: wow. The emotional range, the facial expressions, the way he used the stage, everything about Denzel’s performance was stunning. I believe this nomination also makes him one of [THE?] first actors to be nominated at least once each decade for the past 50 years, which says all you need to know about the man’s acting chops. One of my favorite male performances of 2021, I think Denzel’s Macbeth is a clear frontrunner, perhaps a high point of his career. Give him his award!