October 20, 2016
        "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race                "The Jungle Book," "Zootopia" and Craft Artists to be Honored at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" officially is a 2016 contender        

Leonardo DiCaprio the new Best Actor frontrunner? – AWARDS ALLEYr

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Oscar trackers who finally caught up with Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” at its AFI Fest world premiere Thursday evening have joined the discussion (I saw it Thursday morning and began breaking down Leonardo DiCaprio’s Best Actor chances), and they tend to agree that Eastwood’s lead actor has the best chance of muscling his way into the ongoing awards race. Some even believe he’s the new frontrunner.

DiCaprio occupies every scene of Eastwood’s “J. Edgar,” casting a long shadow over a dark biopic of a petty, powerful bureaucrat who lorded over Washington, D.C. and the nation for decades as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“It’s at times a broad portrayal of a broad persona, but I thought the actor found ways to dial it down and make the internal machinations of the man count. And I think it could very well carry him to that elusive first Oscar win,” Kris Tapley writes on InContention.

It very well could, though Tapley would probably admit that Best Actor is as stocked as any other this year, with similarly high-profile names such as Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”) and George Clooney (“The Descendants”) vying for a nomination and eventual trophy. If DiCaprio’s going to lean on the “yet-to-win” campaign, he might find Pitt riding that bandwagon, as well. And all three could be overshadowed by the charming Jean Dujadin, who’s silently powerful in “The Artist.”

But back to “J. Edgar” and its AFI Fest world premiere. Scott Feinberg covered the world premiere with an eye toward Oscar, as well, and agrees that DiCaprio should be the focus of Warner’s campaign.

“He gives a performance of great nuance, portraying Hoover as a spry 24-year-old and a fading 77-year-old — to say nothing of the 53 years in-between — with equal aplomb. His physical transformation is remarkable (and not only because of the outstanding makeup work), as are the ways in which he conveys his character’s mental hardening as he witnesses, learns, and fears more and more.”

So “J. Edgar” has entered the race. Next week, it enters the marketplace. And in time, we’ll see if DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, or Mr. Eastwood himself will find themselves on the campaign trail pushing their period biopic through the rigorous Oscar circus.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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