These are, right now, your 10 likely "Best Actor" contenders

1) Casey Affleck, "Manchester By The Sea"

Ever since I caught Kenneth Lonergan's masterful film back at Sundance in January it has stayed with me in the most profound of ways. A big part of the depth of this movie resides in Casey Affleck's brilliant portrayal of grief. He is the current leading frontunner and I wouldn't want it any other way. His performance is monumental in the most intimate of ways. 

2) Tom Hanks, "Sully"

Tom Hanks is phenomenal as Chesley Sullenberger, the true-life pilot who safely landed his troubled US Airways Flight 1549 full of passengers on the Hudson River. Hanks brings out the elegant simplicity he is known for and does justice to a heroic American figure . He stands a good shot at nabbing the sixth Oscar nomination of his career, he's that good in the film.

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3) Denzel Washington, "Fences"

No one has seen Denzel Washington's upcoming "Fences" and yet expectations are sky high. The first trailer has Washington chewing up the scenery with his co-star, the great, Viola Davis. He plays a former baseball player struggling to support his family in the 1950's. After a slew of big, loud action movies it is refreshing to see Washington go back to something more subdued and artistic. 

4) Matthew McConaughey, "Gold"

One look at the trailer for Stephen Gaghan's "Gold" and you're mesmerized by the physical change of Matthew McConaughey. Not just that, the performance seems to be loony, maddening and, yes, even existential. His character heads out to Indonesia in relentless pursuit of a hidden treasure. Shades of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"? I wouldn't be surprised if McConaughey took a little bit of Bogie as inspiration for the role. 

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5) Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"

Although Emma Stone has the better performance in Damien Chazelle's great movie musical "La La Land," the on-screen chemistry she shares with Ryan Gosling slaps a smile on your face. Gosling previously got nominated for 2006's "Half Nelson," but "La La Land" is where he stands a better chance to win. It is already the Best Picture frontrunner and reaffirms his movie star status. The guys is just damn likable.

6) Joel Edgarton, "Loving"

Jeff Nichols' "Loving" is a delicate film about racial injustice and forbidden love in the 1950s. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton play the star-crossed lovers. Negga is almost a shoe-in at getting a nomination, if not a win. Edgerton less so, but a nomination is not totally out of the question. The film is lovely and is carried by the subtlety of both performances.

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7) Dev Patel, "Lion"

Ok, Ok. Most pundits have Patel cracking the top 5, but not in my watch. No siree bobby. I have seen "Lion" and maintain my stance that its first hour, without Patel, is the better half of the film. Which is not to say Patel is bad in the movie, he's actually pretty good, it's just that he takes part in the weaker section of the film. It's Oscar-bait 101 and I trust voters will not get suckered by this film in 2016.

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8) Andrew Garfield, "Silence"

Not much is known about Martin Scorsese's latest film. What we do know is that it's a 3 + hour movie about two Jesuit priests that get tortured in Japan when they try to spread the word of Christianity on the Samurai. Given the running time and the fact that Garfield seems to be the lead, the movie will make or break based on his performance. My advice? Always trust Scorsese. He saw something in Garfield to give him this epic task.

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9) Miles Teller, "Beed For This"

Although "Bleed For This" does not break any new ground when it comes to Boxing movies, Teller is a joy to watch. Playing former champion Vinny Paz, Teller bings terrific intensity in his portrayal of the "Pazmanian Devil" a man that could never be counted out, even after a career threatening injury almost leaves him paralyzed. His coach is hilariously played by a balding Aaron Eckhart, another possible nominee. 

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10) Joe Alwyn, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"

You might see this actor climb up or completely disappear after tonight's World Premiere of Ang Lee's latest film at the New York Film Festival. A possible Best Picture contender, the film is carried by Alwn's performance as a war-vet still haunted by what he saw in the field of battle.