Wrong-Way Gurus Pushing Denzel Over Casey

In the latest Gurus of Gold chart, seven industry pulse-takers — Vox‘s Greg Ellwood, Today‘s Dave Karger, L.A. Times critic Mark Olsen, MCN’s David Poland, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, Susan Wloszczyna (ala Suzie Woz) and L.A. Times staffer Glenn Whipp — are predicting a Best Actor Oscar win by FencesDenzel Washington with only four — Toronto Star critic Peter Howell, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, The Film Experience‘s Nathaniel R and Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson — sticking by longtime frontrunner Casey Affleck, who gives the performance of his career in Manchester By The Sea.

The Denzel surge is about the SAG win, of course, but two things have happened since to alter the chemistry — i.e., Affleck winning the BAFTA Best Actor trophy and Deadline‘s Mike Fleming running an in-depth, highly flattering making-of-Manchester piece.

Yes, there’s a perception of a horse race here and I’m not saying it’s settled, but I am saying that the Denzel surge happened two weeks ago and has since receded.

  • Lannie

    I dunno…Denzel’s sort of been everywhere since his SAG win. The Santa Barbara thing….even Jimmy Kimmel last night. The momentum feels real. I feel like BAFTA sort of came and went without much attention in American media. Denzel gave an inspiring speech at the NAACP awards on the weekend that was all over social media. A lot more than what was happening with Casey at BAFTA (who was the expected winner there. Even if it got more coverage, the lack of Denzel not being nominated blunts the impact somewhat). And Denzel is also getting his own flattering major media puff piece profiles this week, like this one from Monday’s LA Times, where Scott Rudin says the three great American actors are “Marlon Brando, George C Scott and Denzel”:


  • Thom Phoolery

    What song is Roy Orbison singing now?

  • ZenMaster_Coltrane

    If anything, BAFTA adds to the Denzel momentum. Never been nominated for any role by BAFTA nor has Morgan Freeman apparently. Nothing’s really changed….the personalities are still the same.

    • kevin stewart

      I think the real news from BAFTA was Dev Patel winning over Ali. If there’s an upset this year it’s going to be Patel winning Supporting Actor. In fact I’m now predicting it will happen and Sasha is now predicting it also.

      • ZenMaster_Coltrane

        I really do find the whole awards race insufferable. In the end, it’s just a choice made by a select group of voters. Who knows what influences them? The one thing I do know, it’s not just about ‘the performance’. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have these examples of deferred/make-up Oscars.

      • adam____l

        BAFTA have no credibility when it comes to Dev Patel. They even nominated his fairly terrible performance in Slumdog as best actor. He was comprehensively outacted by at least two other actors in that – the quiz show host and the kid that played his younger self.

  • Eric

    Who’s going to give a better speech on stage? This sometimes dictates (sadly) who wins. The answer is obvious.

    • Dr. New Jersey

      So Streep wins again?

      • Eric

        Nope. Emma’s speech will be plenty good.

  • Clockwork Taxi

    I love Denzel Washington and think he is one of the best actors. That being said, I really do believe a win for Denzel against Casey is a win for social justice warriors on the internet. And that makes me sick.

    • YCo

      I agree. You may as well retroactively remove Brando’s name from Oscar or film history, or Robert Shaw, George C. Scott… And while we’re at it I’m sure Nicholson and Beatty weren’t exactly prim and proper around the gaggle of underage groupies while hanging out at the Beverly Wilshire in their randy 70s heyday..And while I’m at it, I should never listen to the Rolling Stones again. Can you imagine if the Social Justice Twitter Warriors had been around then? Destructive and excessive personal behavior has it’s personal consequences to that individual and those in their lives.
      We are becoming too comfortable with playing God and that’s scary. Separating the art from the artist is not condoning or normalizing certain behavior.

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    • cyanic

      Are you one of those who are suspicious of nonwhite nominees and winners?

      • Clockwork Taxi

        Yeah. You can fuck off.

        • cyanic


  • Wayman Wong

    You mean Deadline’s ”in-depth, highly flattering making-of ‘Manchester’ piece” that purports to chronicle the movie’s ”long journey to the Oscars” and overcame its ”calamities” and ”struggles with adversity” … without ever mentioning word one about Casey Affleck’s past allegations of sexual harassment? One can only assume that the writer was allowed such generous access to Affleck, Lonergan and Damon … as long as that topic was nowhere to be mentioned in the article.

  • YCo

    Finally watched Manchester and Casey broke my heart. I haven’t seen fences, but from what I’ve read it looks like Denzel in shouty-mode..
    That gets Oscars. I was never a big fan of Casey – he always seemed too mumbly and affected. But man, in Manchester, he was an open wound. He made you feel Lee’s awkwardness, how shut down and cut-off he was. He conveyed his broken heart and shattered life through body language and his eyes. Beautiful, soulful, alive performance.

    • Well said.

    • Lannie

      Casey’s good at showing awkwardness. Because he is awkward in real life. Have you seen his speeches? The halting speech, the uncomfortable body language etc. I’m not a big fan of the “Actor X is playing himself” critcism, but the more one sees of Casey in real life, the less impressive his performance looks. The SNL impression of Casey as a mopey depressive the other week when Kristen Stewart was hosting was spot on. Lee just feels like a version of Casey himself, played with a bit more sadness as the script dictates. Not really seeing the big acting stretch with this one. Solid performance, but pretty overrated.

      • YCo

        The ‘actor-playing-himself’ trope is a lazy criticism to me. Unless you’re freaking Daniel Day-Lewis, all actors are essentially ‘playing themselves’ – it’s their body, their eyes etc.. But great ones fuse the physical part of themselves with the emotional truth of a character. Otherwise, a performance is all tricks and no soul. That’s what my favorite actors did: Montgomery Clift, Dean and Brando did or what Gena Rowlands, Miranda Richardson can do. They had the ability to make a character live on film through motion, expression. They’re not clowns in makeup.

        • Lannie

          You make a very valid point that I mostly agree with. But great actors can still stretch themselves in vastly different directions, within a basic framework. And I think Casey lacks some of the fundemental tools of a great actor….his sort of monotone, droning voice ((helps to play a depressed character I guess). It’s not very flexible. And a general lack of charisma. Bringing up Clift, Dean and Brando does Casey no favors. I can imagine any of them playing his role and burning a hole through the screen in a way his limitations mean he can’t. They had “it”. Casey doesn’t, though he’s a solid character actor.

          He’s not bad in the film by any means. i guess an actor as fundementally limited as Casey has to do a lot more for me go “wow, this guy has done something special”. He was well cast and did a good job, but the way he performs the role falls right into my perceptions of him as a character actor of limited scope.

          If you really dug it though, that’s great. I thought he was fine, not brilliant.

          • YCo

            I can’t give you a dissection of why I loved him in Manchester other than it moved me. It doesn’t always have be fireworks and the Olympics.

  • hupto

    These late-breaking surges almost never pan out (Mickey Rourke, Viola Davis [for “The Help”] and Emmanuelle Riva, to name three). Much as I’d rather see Denzel win, I don’t think he’s going to make it.

    • cyanic

      Viola Davis won the first televised award for The Help. Critics Choice Best Actress. She lost the Globe. Won the SAG. Then lost BAFTA and Oscar.

      • hupto

        Right. But people still thought she was gonna pull it off. You may recall that when Streep’s name was announced, she was visibly shocked and immediately ran over to Davis to offer words of consolation before going onstage.

  • Barney Dunn

    “relocate where? here?” Affleck displays remarkable delivery of Longeran’s dialogue

  • Edward

    Denzel was very good in “Fences.” It was the kind of showy performance the Academy seems to like, but Affleck gave the better performance IMHO. I was looking forward to Fences, but am lukewarm about it. Viola Davis, stole the film. She was the film’s center and it’s soul.

  • lazarus

    Denzel is arguably the best (regularly) working actor we have right now. Every time he’s doing something other than one of those cheap actioners, he’s potentially turning in gold. I love the criticisms of his Fences perf here from people who haven’t even SEEN it. Yes, he shouts a lot. So does Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar. But like that iconic role, Troy also has quieter, sadder moments that reveal the fullness of the character. You better believe what Denzel has done this year is every bit as award-worthy as Affleck. It would be a richly-deserved win.

    • Lannie

      I think Denzel’s performance is actually significantly more award worthy than Casey’s. Sort of surprised it’s even been a race. Denzel should be way out in front.

      I guess Denzel cleaning up might have been boring for some. Or something.

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  • JoeS

    Forget about Bafta or any articles that have been written. The industry loves Denzel right now and his Fences performance. He’s going to win. Accept it.
    P.S. I think Garfield should win so I don’t have a dog in the Casey vs Denzel fight.

  • nighthawk246

    Casey Affleck deserves to win the Oscar. It was the performance of his career, as mentioned. Unfortunately, the Oscars are not always based on merit. The winners can be picked based on politics.This year is especially political. I think the smear campaign, regarding Casey Affleck and sexual harassment will hurt him and prevent sone female voters from voting for him. This is also a year where the academy is making up for last year because of the Oscars so white controversy. The winners will be more diverse that last years all white lineup. This may be another reason the Oscar may go to Denzel over Casey Affleck. Casey Affleck’s minimalist acting was better and more memorable than Denzel’s which was a lot more showy but still good. Affleck’s performance was brilliant. I want Affleck to win and he has won most of the major awards but it is worrisome that Denzel won Sag. It shows that there is a lot of resistance against Affleck amongst his fellow actors unlike the movie critics.