1. Denzel Washington (Fences)
Seventh nomination (2 wins).
A powerhouse performance from one of America's (and the Academy's) favorite actors, Washington might be too big to ignore (though voters are not particularly pressed to reward him knowing he already has a pair of Oscars at home). It will be a nail-biter to the very end, but I think Washington repeats his SAG win over Affleck by a nose.
2. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Despite the SAG loss to Denzel, Affleck's been the frontrunner all year long. His role, however, is very internalized and unshowy - not adjectives that typically describe an Oscar winning Best Actor performance. Denzel's flashier work coupled with an apparent lack of enthusiasm for Manchester (not to mention Affleck's checkered past) make me think it's Denzel's third trip to the podium.
3. Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
If there's to be a true shock upset this year, look to Gosling: He's a well-loved movie star in the year's most beloved film. He even learned to play piano proficiently for the role!
4. Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Look, I'm happy for Andrew Garfield to have an Oscar nomination, but I'm just going to ignore the fact that it's for this performance. Don't get me wrong, he's a good crier and is a good choice for the role, but I can't get past his Forrest Gump Southern accent.
5. Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Mortensen is great (as usual) in this indie gem, and he now gets the weird distinction of being the first actor to net two nominations for roles involving full frontal nudity. You go, Viggo!