Stewart? Poitier? Scofield? De Niro? Day-Lewis? Our chief critic selects a victor from his nominees – and reveals who you chose as your people’s champion
The best actor Academy award has always had a totemic fascination. Peter O’Toole was tortured throughout his career by getting nominated eight times without winning, and actually considered turning down a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2003 — at the age of 70 — on the grounds that he was “still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright”. (He never did, though was nominated for the last time in 2007.) Holding the Oscar in your hand is something that many actors daydream about. The first ever best actor winner, Emil Jannings, was the German silent movie actor later disgraced for his propaganda associations with the Nazi regime: when Allied troops entered Berlin in 1945, he is said to have stood in the rubble, holding up his statuette and piteously calling out: “I have Oscar!” His successors have been considerably more respectable, providing performances that have thrilled and captivated movie audiences over decades. Here is my fantasy lineup of best actor nominees in my Oscar-of-Oscars ceremony.
Fantasy drama receives 12 nominations for revamped awards, which will be presented by Absolutely Fabulous star following Stephen Fry’s departure
The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy epic about a woman who falls in love with a sea monster, leads the nominations for this year’s Bafta film awards – though it will face strong competition from Martin McDonagh’s Golden Globe-winning black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and the Gary Oldman-starring Churchill biopic Darkest Hour.
At a Bafta press conference that also unveiled Joanna Lumley as the new host for the awards, Del Toro’s drama picked up 12 nominations, including best film and best director, as well as a best actress pick for Sally Hawkins and best supporting actress for Octavia Spencer.
The dazzling British actor, often mentioned in the same breath as Daniel Day-Lewis, is tipped for a Golden Globe for his role as a national saviour, a long journey from playing punks and skinheads
The 1980s was a dazzling era for young, explosive British actors and two of the brightest fireworks in the box were Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis. They followed parallel trajectories: a 1960s childhood in south-east London, acclaimed stage work in the 1970s and on in the next decade to screen performances that gave homegrown cinema its equivalents to Method heavyweights such as Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, as well as successors to angry young men such as Albert Finney and Malcolm McDowell. (McDowell’s confrontational performance in The Raging Moon inspired Oldman to become an actor.)
They will compete next month in a Brit-off at the Golden Globes for the best actor prize, with the rivalry likely to continue at the Oscars in March. Day-Lewis, 60, has been nominated for his absorbing portrayal of a controlling, fastidious dressmaker in Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant Phantom Thread, in which he stars with Lesley Manville, Oldman’s first of five wives to date. (They were married from 1987 to 1990.)