6 Extraordinary Acting Performances Already Earning 2023 Oscar Buzz | #oscars | #academywards

While the 95th Academy Awards are nearly six months away, movie lovers and critics alike have already begun speculating who will go home with golden statues on the biggest night of award season for movies. This year, notably diverse films across all genres are already contending with their Academy Award chances, making for an interesting Oscar race to play out in the months ahead.

Usually comprised of early bellwether performances with a few surprises sprinkled in at times, the Best Actress and Best Actor categories are consistently among the most anticipated awards of the evening. Following the conclusion of the major fall film festivals, many impressive new acting performances have been introduced to the world of cinema, certainly shaping and influencing the season to come.


Ana De Armas

Relatively still fresh to many Hollywood audiences, Ana de Armas has had a fascinating career over the past few years, with standout roles in films such as Blade Runner: 2049, Knives Out, and No Time to Die. This fall, de Armas steps into the spotlight fully for her latest role as the iconic Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, directed by Andrew Dominik. Although Blonde in its entirety has received polarizing reviews from critics following the film’s Venice Film Festival premiere, de Armas is receiving much positive reaction in a transformative role embodying one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures. Adapted from a fictionalized novel of the same name, Blonde attempts to revise Monroe’s folklore as a casualty of the early-Hollywood system with highly controversial methods that have raised many criticisms since the film’s release.

However, regardless of the film’s contentious ideological paths of portraying Monroe, de Armas shows off a robust performance that displays her dedication to the role and the massive payoff that it produces. Outside the uncanny physical likeness between De Armas and Monroe, De Armas underwent nearly a year of accent training to capture Monroe’s signature voice and way of speaking. Historically, the voters of the Academy are drawn to performances that require major physical transformations, as well as renditions of Classic Hollywood idols (Michelle Williams received a Best Actress nomination in 2012 for her take on Monroe in My Week With Marilyn). Despite Blonde‘s divided reactions, de Armas will likely be a significant contender in the upcoming Oscar race for her devoted embodiment of Monroe.

Olivia Colman

As an Academy Awards darling of nearly the past decade, Olivia Colman has a strong chance of receiving another nomination in the upcoming Oscar season due to her latest role in Empire of Light, directed by Sam Mendes. Colman is the film’s central character, a middle-aged woman called Hilary Small, who works as the manager of a grand movie theater and struggles with her mental health in an English coastal town during the early Thatcher Era.

Hilary begins the film as a woman with an unclear history, quite crestfallen and isolated.

RELATED: Sam Mendes Writes a Love Letter to Cinema in ‘Empire of Light’ Trailer

Still, everything changes when she connects deeply with a young man who starts working at the theater. Up and down like Queen Anne in The Favourite, introspective like Leda fromThe Lost Daughter, Colman channels all of her most extraordinary on-screen talents as Hilary in Empire of Light to deliver a performance that solidifies her talent as one of cinema’s greatest working actresses today. Many first reactions to the film have been mixed-to-negative, with many viewers criticizing Empire of Light for its flimsy, empty narrative. However, Colman’s leading performance is one of the film’s standout attributes of success and will likely earn her yet another Academy Award nomination at the beginning of next year.

Colin Farrell

An acting force in both Hollywood and independent cinema for many decades now, Colin Farrell’s latest project, The Banshees of Inisherin, finds the actor returning to his Irish roots for the first time in many years. Directed by Martin McDonough (who also worked with Farrell on 2008’s In Bruges), The Banshees of Inisherin concentrates on the sudden fallout of the friendship between two men on a remote Irish island in the 1920s.

Farrell stars in The Banshees of Inisherin as Pádraic, a sweet but dimwitted man who cannot comprehend the ever-changing world around him, especially when his best companion decides to leave their friendship behind. Channeling a sheltered and straightforward fellow, Farrell’s natural charm bleeds into his character, even when Pádraic makes foolish decisions that audiences cannot possibly defend. Farrell is also able to show off his tremendous comedic chops in this role, which works to heighten the film’s devastatingly hilarious screenplay. For this part, Farrell has already been awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at this year’s Venice Film Festival, setting himself up for further awards attention as the year closes out. Should Farrell make the cut, this will be the established actor’s first Academy Award nomination.

Brendan Fraser

This year, actor Brendan Fraser has reentered the award conversation after years away from the spotlight. Once considered a Hollywood heartthrob, Fraser has been cast aside for some years after a few choice roles had him marginalized as a performer. However, all naysayers of Fraser’s acting skills are to be proven wrong with this newest role in The Whale, the latest work from controversial filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.

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Fraser stars in The Whale as Charlie, a morbidly obese college professor who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter after abandoning her for his gay lover years before. In the role of Charlie, Fraser flexes his outstanding talent by channeling all the guilt, sadness, and even hope experienced by his tragic character. While The Whale has been met with fairly mixed reviews from many critics and moviegoers during the fall film festival circuit, Fraser’s performance has been nearly universally praised. The actor received an impressive standing ovation that went viral following The Whale’s Venice premiere, along with a Tribute Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Distributor A24 is already championing an impressive awards campaign for Fraser’s performance in The Whale, which will only gain more momentum following the film’s December 9 release. This will be Fraser’s first Academy Award nomination if the award season works out in his favor.

Jeremy Pope

Jeremy Pope, one of the most alluring queer talents of our times, has already received nominations for an Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. Pope is now likely to garner an Oscar nomination in the upcoming awards season for his latest performance in The Inspection. Pope stars in The Inspection as Ellis French, a young gay Black man struggling with homelessness and acceptance from his mother, leading him to join the Marine Corps during the Iraq War.

RELATED: Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union Star in ‘The Inspection’ Trailer

Directed by Elegance Bratton and based mainly on his experiences as a young man, The Inspection deals largely with the problematic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S military and Bratton’s perspective as a gay Black man navigating America. Embodying Bratton, Pope gives a heartfelt, naturalistic performance reflecting the highs and lows of his character’s experiences facing homophobia and finding community in his fellow recruits. Pope’s character also required him to serve a highly physical performance, adding to the dimensions of his unique role. Pope’s inclusion in the typically high-profile list of final nominees for Best Actor would platform the actor’s immense talents if he were Oscar-nominated for his starring role in The Inspection. Audiences can check out Pope in The Inspection when the film is released on November 18 in the U.S.

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams is certainly busy this year; the actress is getting a lot of attention for two incredible performances. First, as the lead character in Kelly Reichardt’s upcoming Showing Up, then the much higher-profile role as Mitzi Fabelman, a version of Steven Spielberg’s mother in his upcoming highly-autobiographical movie The Fabelmans. Described as “Spielberg’s most personal film to date,” The Fabelmans concerns itself with the iconic director’s love for cinema from a young age, along with the divorce of his parents, which went on to influence his entire body of work significantly.

As Mitzi, Williams embodies the creative, carefree spirit that Spielberg saw in his mother, even when she was in her most vulnerable state, stuck between her own desires and social expectations of being a good wife and mother. A piano player who loves to perform, Williams as Mitzi often loves to be the energy in a room that draws people’s attention. A far cry from her performances as Reichardt’s muse, Williams serves up a dynamic, radiant achievement in The Fabelmans that makes her the movie’s clear standout, even in a stacked cast of impressive performances. While many would have considered Williams a front-runner in the Supporting Actress category at the Oscars, it has been recently announced that she will be campaigning in the Best Actress category instead. Audiences will be able to catch Williams in The Fabelmans when the movie is released on November 11.

NEXT: Oscars: 10 Movies That Have Potential To Make It Big in the Awards Season


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