This year's awards season has been one of the most disparate (look it up) and difficult to predict in some time.

The general feeling after 'A Star Is Born' premiered was that it was the runaway favourite for Oscar glory, with Cooper fully expected to sweep up all awards - for both acting and directing - in his path.

Instead, it's been a markedly different campaign and Cooper himself has been open about how he felt "embarrassed" for not claiming a Best Director nomination. Leaving that category aside, let's focus in on the Best Actor category.

We begin with...

 

RAMI MALEK - 'BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY'

If you check the bookies, Rami Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury is now the odds-on favourite to win on the night. He's already won at the Golden Globes and again at the SAG Awards, meaning he is right on track to make it three for three. The likelihood is that he'll win, but why? Was he really that good?

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

Well, yes.

Malek's performance as Mercury really was the best thing about the movie, and he carried it across his shoulders from the very opening scene. Not only that, you had the backstage drama with Bryan Singer being fired off the set, the rumours of all the altercations that took place on set between Singer and Malek - all that together, and he still gave that performance.

That's why Malek has been winning awards this year, most likely. People in the industry know what happened behind the scenes on 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and Malek still pulled out one of his best performances and maintained his professional dignity in the process. Sure, it's a crowd-pleasing hit, but with the Oscars facing an uphill battle for relevancy, this might just be the thing for them.

 

CHRISTIAN BALE - 'VICE'

When you talk about actors disappearing into their roles to inhabit them, there are a few names that spring up in almost every conversation. Daniel Day-Lewis learning how to make a canoe for 'The Last of the Mohicans'. Robert DeNiro packing on weight and wearing silk boxers for 'The Untouchables'. Now, it's Christian Bale shaving his head and packing on weight for 'Vice'.

Christian Bale as Vice President Dick Cheney in 'Vice' Christian Bale as Vice President Dick Cheney in 'Vice'

But more than just the physical transformation, Bale caught the primal essence of Dick Cheney as a master manipulator, a skillful predator, and a man who was utterly unashamed in his desires. It should have been a terrifying performance, and had it been directed by someone like, say, David Fincher or something, it could have been a horror.

That 'Vice' is wrapped up in a comedy-of-sorts doesn't help its chances because, well, the Oscars doesn't really go for comedies all that much - even if they are of a sort. Had Bale been directed by any other director, he'd have been the favourite. Instead, the Academy's general distaste for comedies means Bale is less likely to win here.

 

BRADLEY COOPER - 'A STAR IS BORN'

Right, let's make this clear - 'A Star Is Born' was a major hit with audiences and critics. Nobody can deny that. Almost everyone who saw it wanted Bradley Cooper to pick up more awards than he did, but that's not been the case so far.

Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine in 'A Star Is Born' Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine in 'A Star Is Born'

If he was placed into the Best Supporting Actor category, he'd have won it without even trying and that's really where he should be. The crux of 'A Star Is Born' is about the relationship between Cooper and Gaga, their balance and their trials go hand in hand, but it's Gaga who is the one standing at the end. It's him that was helping her find her voice, which is the essence of what a supporting actor does.

It's not like this is Bradley Cooper's last time at the Oscars, either. He'll be back, and he'll win. But it won't be for this, sadly.

 

VIGGO MORTENSEN - 'GREEN BOOK'

Yet again, Viggo Mortensen is in the running for an Oscar. 'Green Book' was a fine movie, and Viggo Mortensen - for all the praise heaped upon Christian Bale for transforming himself - did just as thorough a job in playing Tony 'Lip' Vallelonga. He packed on the weight, he played against type, he got the mannerisms down and he was light-hearted and funny.

Viggo Mortensen as Tony Vallelonga in 'Green Book' Viggo Mortensen as Tony Vallelonga in 'Green Book'

Again, all very fine and nothing at all you could have a problem with. Now let's look at the previous winners for Best Actor.

Leonardo DiCaprio basically froze himself half to death for 'The Revenant'. Casey Affleck mined the darkest parts of the human psyche for 'Manchester By The Sea'. Gary Oldman had been plugging away for years and got his dues with 'Darkest Hour'. McConnaughey, likewise, was on the apex of his McConnaugh-aissance with 'Dallas Buyers Club'.

You see the pattern? They all did dark, psychologically-taxing roles that demanded huge commitments from them. 'Green Book' is too milquetoast (look it up) a movie to have this many nominations, and Mortensen - who is a fantastic actor - won't win here. He should have won for 'Eastern Promises' or 'Return of the King', quite frankly.

 

WILLEM DAFOE - 'AT ETERNITY'S GATE'

'At Eternity's Gate' hasn't been screened yet in Ireland, so we can't really deliver any kind of judgement on Dafoe's performance. Generally speaking, though, Dafoe has always been a safe bet for a nomination and an even safer bet not to win.

Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh in 'At Eternity's Gate' Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh in 'At Eternity's Gate'

Everybody was certain he'd win for 'The Florida Project' last year and came away empty-handed. Still, it's not like Willem Dafoe even cares about this stuff. He's off doing bold, original work and that's really all you can ask for.

 

So, the question for you, who do you want to win Best Actor at this year's Oscars?