The night of a thousand stars arrives on 24th February when the 91st Academy Awards take place at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. 

We take a look at the runners and riders in the Best Actor category, as well as pointing you at the best odds available. 

Rami Malek 

At the height of Queen’s popularity in the late 70s and early 80s, they faced competition from Stars on 45, whose medleys sung by soundalikes, inexplicably struck a chord with the record-buying public.  

While Bohemian Rhapsody was about the former, the film itself felt like the latter with serious criticism of historical facts quickly emerging. But Hollywood and the truth have always been loose bedfellows.  

Malek, however, as Freddie Mercury, earned plenty of plaudits and saw him scoop a BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award.  

The latter is particularly relevant: only once since 2004 has the winner of the SAG not won Best Actor. Little wonder that the odds on Malek winning the Oscar continue to shorten with 2/7 at BetVictor the best around. 

Bradley Cooper 

Just one nomination for Cooper who doubled as the film’s director. Eight nominations in the Academy Awards follows a slew of nominations elsewhere but relatively few wins as he trailed in after Rami Malek and Christian Bale. 

Most of the attention on the film focuses on Shallow, which is expected to grab the gong for Best Original Song.  

Cooper is no stranger to this territory, with nominations for his performances in Silver Linings PlaybookAmerican Hustle and American Sniper. None of them garnered the top prize; is this the one which alters that run? 

Only twice before has the Best Actor been won by a film’s director; overturning the form book is a tough job which is why Bradley Cooper is sitting at 20/1 with Paddy Power to win Best Actor. 

Willem Dafoe 

For his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate, Willem Dafoe garnered his fourth Oscar nomination. Previous appearances on the list of nominees came courtesy of 1986’s Platoon, 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire and last year’s The Florida Project

After being ignored by Critics’ Choice Awards and SAG, it’s no surprise to find him languishing on the fringe of the race. Dafoe is the rank outsider at 66/1 with Betfair to win the Best Actor Award this year. 

In the past decade, each winner of Best Actor came from a Best Picture nominated film. At Eternity’s Gate failed in that respect given the widespread ignoring of the flick in other awards, it’s unlikely Dafoe will taste glory this time around. 

Christian Bale 

If there is a serious contender to rival Malek, then it is Christian Bale for his star turn as Dick Cheney in Vice. Heavily made-up, the former Dark Knight reportedly requires a double-take such is the accuracy of his mannerisms.  

A biographical tale of Cheney’s rise to vice-president of the United States, second-in-command to George W. Bush. It wasn’t particularly popular at the box office, however, making just $56.6m against a $40m budget. 

Bale bagged two Critics’ Choice awards as well as a Golden Globe. Can he add to his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter? The bookmakers think he is in with a chance, casting him as the second favourite with Coral offering 7/2 for Bale to win. 

Viggo Mortensen 

The story of jazz musician Don Shirley’s 1962 tour through the American Deep South seems the unlikeliest tale for a hit movie but Peter Farrelly’s adaptation reaped more than $100m at the box office from a budget of $23m. 

Mortensen plays Shirley’s driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, an Italian-American bouncer, hired specifically for the tour. Mahershala Ali, nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and Mortensen combine beautifully to bring with as much wit as gravitas throughout 130 minutes.  

It’s New York-born Dane’s third nomination for Best Actor following Eastern Promises and Captain Fantastic in 2008 and 2017 respectively. With all due respect to those performances, this is one better but without the hype surrounding Malek’s performance, it seems unlikely that Mortensen will receive a statuette this time around. 

The bookmakers agree; Mortensen is a 50/1 outsider with BoyleSports

Published by Stuart Stratford

Stuart is a freelance writer based in the UK with more than a dozen years experience. He previously worked with Daily Mail betting, 10bet, Betway, Come On and a number of other international bookmakers, as well as ITV and Goal. Contact Stuart at stuart@aclfarsenal.co.uk.

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