Academy Award Nominees: Who’s Next?

Every year, when the Academy Award nominations roll around, there are some nominees that we wouldn’t have expected a year before. It goes to prove that with the right role, anyone can get nominated. In past years, we have gotten young actors breaking through into the nominee world, and veterans finally receiving their due. This year alone, we have J.K. Simmons, a dedicated character actor who finally got a role worthy of his talents. We had Michael Keaton, the biggest star of the 1980s making a glorious comeback, we had Steve Carell, a comedian turning to a more serious role. When a performer builds up enough steam to earn an Oscar nomination, it is always surprising and very pleasant, because let’s face it, the same old perennial nominees can be quite boring. So as a bit of fun, we’ve compiled a list of five performers each who we think will be nominated in the next five years.

Honorable Mentions:

Alfred Molina, Allison Janney, Stellan Skarsgard, Jennifer Jason Leigh (UPDATE: Jennifer Jason Leigh was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her amazing work in The Hateful Eight!) and Ezra Miller

Brendan Gleeson


There are few actors as dedicated and overpowering in cinema these days than Brendan Gleeson. Always a supporting character actor, in recent years, he has starred in a few smaller but still brilliant Irish films that place him squarely in the lead role. He has gotten three Golden Globe nominations and won an Emmy Award. He is picking up serious gravitas as an actor, and very soon, he will find himself with the right combination of a great narrative of a long career, a brilliant role and a fantastic performance, and that is a winning combination

Potential Nominated Role: Another film with one of the McDonagh brothers that gets more widely seen and noticed.

Ben Whishaw


A rising star of cinema is Ben Whishaw, who has gone from small independent British films to co-starring in prestigious films such as Cloud Atlas and the James Bond films. With the talents of an acting chameleon, and a very unique style of acting, Whishaw could definitely be at the Oscars sometime soon.

Potential Nominated Role: Whishaw is playing Freddie Mercury in an upcoming film, so that could be it if it is ever made. Other than that, any real-life figure in a prestige biopic

Greta Gerwig


Already a beloved and endearing figure of the independent film world, Gerwig is a bright and talented young actress who broke through with the hilarious film Frances Ha two years ago. Now having a good balance between independent films and mainstream films, Gerwig is bound to receive some more positive notices and excellent roles, and hopefully she isn’t overlooked more than she has been already.

Potential Nominated Role: I want to say the female lead in a quirky independent comedy, for which she has made her name, but something tells me a bigger film, such as a David O. Russell film, will give Gerwig the momentum to end up an Oscar nominee. I wouldn’t put her out of the realm of possibility for a writing nomination either (on that topic, I fully expect Louis C.K. to be nominated for writing as well)

Steve Buscemi


Is there anyone who is more revered as an independent film icon than Steve Buscemi? The little, scrawny man with the “kinda funny looking” appearance and ability to explore any film from the tiniest indie to the biggest blockbuster has been working for over thirty years now, and has received exactly zero Academy Award nominations, despite deserving them on several occasions. Buscemi is an underrated and beloved actor, and the bright side is that as evident with people like Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons, the contributions of characters actors in indie films are not entirely ignored, and the right performance can give you the right push.

Potential Nominated Role: Steve is at his best playing slightly sinister, malevolent characters. Very soon, he will break through with the right role, most likely in an independent drama, that will allow him to finally receive the recognition he deserves.

Miles Teller

If there is anything in this article that’s undoubtedly true, it is that Miles Teller is becoming one of the most sought-after young actors. Independent films such as Whiplash and The Spectacular Now showed his range, and being cast in films such as The Fantastic Four reboot will give him serious credibility. He is going to break through with the right role eventually, and will find himself a nominee

Potential Nominated Role: It is difficult to know where Teller’s career will go from now – it isn’t clear if he will steer towards independent fare or mainstream fare. But being young and popular gives an actor a lot of opportunities, hopefully Teller uses them well.

To make this interesting, my friend Marci and I have decided to make this into a contest. He has compiled his own list of people who he thinks will be nominated within the next five years (which you can view here), and if during the next five years, one of either of ours gets nominated, we earn points (full points for a main five selection, quarter points for an honorable mention). So basically, we will revisit this in five years and see if either of us were right. 

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