best actress

2019 Oscars: Best Actress and Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards, to be given out during ABC’s televised ceremony on Sunday, February 24. The Oscars will cap off a months-long awards season featuring industry veterans, newcomers, and as always, endless debates about who deserves to go home with the golden statue.

New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a closer look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Actress and Best Actor in a Leading Role:

2019 Oscars

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

This is not only the first Oscar nomination for Yalitza Aparicio — it’s her first role as an actress, period. Previously, she has pursued a career in early childhood education. The 24-year-old lead in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is the first Indigenous woman (her parents are Mixtec and Triqui) and second Mexican woman ever to receive a nomination in the category. While her father is Mixtec, Aparicio had to learn the language for her role in Roma.

Glenn Close, The Wife

Glenn Close has never won an Academy Award to date, despite being nominated six previous times, including three years in a row in the early 1980s. The NYFA guest speaker has been recognized by the Academy for her roles in The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, and Albert Nobbs. Close has already won the Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role in The Wife.

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

English actress Olivia Colman started her career in comedy, including roles in Peep Show, Look Around You, and Hot Fuzz. She began receiving critical acclaim for her dramatic acting after numerous nominations and awards for her role in Tyrannosaur in 2011, followed by the smash television series Broadchurch in 2014. This is Colman’s first Academy Award nomination.

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Lady Gaga was already one of the world’s biggest pop stars when she started acting in films like Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and the television series American Horror Story. She was still somewhat of a surprise casting choice by director Bradley Cooper for the lead role in A Star is Born, however. Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, was previously nominated by the Academy for Best Song for the 2015 film The Hunting Ground and is additionally nominated in that category again this year for “Shallow.”

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy’s first Oscar nomination for acting came in 2011 for her star-making turn in Bridesmaids, a rare honor for a purely comedic role. This year, her lead role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? as real-life writer Lee Israel is a more traditionally dramatic one, and has earned McCarthy an abundance of praise. Other credits for McCarthy include Spy, Identity Thief, Ghostbusters (2016), and the television series Mike & Molly.

2019 Oscars

Christian Bale, Vice

Method actor Christian Bale is barely recognizable in his prosthetic-assisted role as former Vice President Dick Cheney. Bale previously won the Oscar for his first nomination — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for David O. Russell’s The Fighter. He was nominated in the category again for 2015’s The Big Short, by Vice writer/director Adam McKay. Bale was also nominated in this category for his lead role in  Russell’s 2013 film, American Hustle.

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper wears many hats for the latest remake of Hollywood classic A Star is Born — and he’s been nominated for several of these roles. Cooper has previously been nominated for his leading performance in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and supporting performance in Russell’s American Hustle, as well as for his lead role in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. Cooper also has a Best Picture nomination for American Sniper for his role as producer, and is additionally nominated this year for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Veteran actor Willem Dafoe has been nominated three previous times by the Academy, including last year for his supporting role in indie hit The Florida Project. He was also nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role category for his roles in 2001’s Shadow of the Vampire and 1987’s Platoon. His portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh is his first Oscar nomination for a leading role.

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

This is the first Oscar nomination for Rami Malek, who plays rock legend Freddie Mercury in biopic and Best Picture nominee Bohemian Rhapsody. His breakout role came in 2015 for the USA series Mr. Robot, though he’d earned several high-profile roles before then. His credits include Night at the Museum, 24, The Pacific, Battleship, The Legend of Korra, The Master, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Viggo Mortensen has been nominated twice before, both in the Leading Role category just as this year, for starring in Captain Fantastic and Eastern Promises. He famously played Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His Green Book co-star, Mahershala Ali, is nominated this year for Best Supporting Actor.


Check out the New York Film Academy Blog after this year’s ceremony for a full list of the 2019 Oscar winners and losers!

6 Outstanding Performances That Could Have Been Nominated For An Oscar in 2016

Oscar Trophies

Every year there are only five nominees in each of the four acting categories at the Academy Awards. As such, there is always disagreement among film fans and critics alike. Unfortunately, while not everyone can be nominated, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other performances that are worthy of the award. Here are some standout performances from 2015 that could have easily been nominated for an Oscar.

Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Lead Actor

Michael B. Jordan in Creed

Mr. Jordan burst onto the big screen a few years back with his headline-grabbing performance in Fruitvale Station. It was a wonderful film; brilliantly acted while generating the kind of buzz that leads to future nominations. In Creed, Jordan plays boxer Adonis Johnson, son of Apollo Creed. The actor stacked on muscle like it was going out of style for the part and his character faces enough internal and external obstacles to have warranted a nomination. Maybe the planned sequel to Creed will generate some bigger Oscars buzz for him next time.

Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Lead Actress

Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road

Another sequel, another overlooked performance. Charlize is almost unrecognizable as the tough, one-armed warrior Furiosa, but her rough exterior belies a tender heart. Furiosa is the protagonist of the Fury Road. She hatches a plan that jumpstarts the plot, shows her integrity, and artfully demonstrates her ultimate willingness to sacrifice herself for others. This isn’t the first time Theron has chopped her hair and gotten dirty (literally) for a role but the last time she did, she won for Monster.

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Supporting Actor

 Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

If you haven’t seen the debut feature film from Netflix, it’s well worth the watch and Elba steals the show. It’s a story about the tragic life of a child soldier who is taken in by a group of guerilla fighters led by the Comandant (Elba). Commandant is a charismatic (if not delusional) man of questionable moral fortitude and Elba embodies him with power and grace. Look out for that accent too; it is scary good. Curiously, Elba won this year’s SAG Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor. At least that’s a bit of a consolation.

Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Lead Actor

 Johnny Depp Black Mass

The brown-eyed, dark haired star donned blue contacts and blonde hair to portray legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. His turn as the evil protagonist is chilling and detailed and is a testament to Depp’s skill at playing believably real people. Indeed, he is the most nominated actor on this list (3 nominations and counting) who is always in conversation for awards at year’s end. But Depp doesn’t seem to care much about the Oscars, which probably hurts his chances.

“I don’t want to win one of those things ever, you know… The idea of winning means that you’re in competition with someone and I’m not in competition with anybody.”

-Johnny Depp, Vanity Fair

Mya Taylor (Tangerine), Supporting Actress


Mya Taylor in Tangerine

Tangerine was a game-changing film to be sure, not only shining the light on a day in the life of a transgender sex worker, but also displaying the incredible cinematography that can be achieved with a mere iPhone. But, that doesn’t mean there is no humor to be found on the streets of LA. The film shows a hectic day in the life of two prostitutes, one of which, played by Taylor, is a musician on the side. Taylor is hard as nails and sweet as sugar in her performance. Tangerine is a landmark film for several reasons, largely because it is the first time transgender actresses—Taylor’s co-star Kitana Kiki Rodriguez also got quite a bit of critical attention for her stellar performance—have had their Oscar campaign backed by a major studio.

Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Supporting Actor

Jason Mitchell from Straight Out of Compton

Although any of the five young actors in Straight Outta Compton could stake a claim to awards nominations, Mitchell’s turn as the charismatic mastermind Eazy-E is especially moving. He starts as an arrogant dope-slinging gangster and becomes a worldwide phenomenon before his ultimate downfall. The breadth of the man and his complicated personal relationships are brought to life by Mitchell in a way that makes you equally respect and despise his character throughout the film.

Awards are always subjective things. Nominations depend on a number of factors, popularity, past work, and politicking not least among them. But take it from Johnny Depp, awards are not the end-all be-all in acting. Truth, passion, and technical skill will always shine through in the visual telling of a story through film.

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.