2019 Calvin Awards: Best Actor

By David Mumpower

February 23, 2019

I make this look goooooooood.

Best Actor is a category that every major movie award includes, and BOP is no different. Generally, this race is one of the most competitive since the overwhelming majority of Hollywood releases center on dudes. Over the past year, however, one particular acting role stood out so much that this year is pretty much a blowout.

In a stunning turn of events, John David Washington can now claim something that his father never could. The son of Denzel Washington has won the title of Best Actor at The Calvins. Papa Washington has received votes just about every year since the inception of the awards, but his highest finish came with Fences two years ago. His only other official selection was a third-place vote for Flight in 2013. While our staff loves Denzel – who doesn’t love Denzel? – it’s never entirely translated to The Calvins.

On the other hand, John David Washington is one for one as Best Actor. He plays Ron Stallworth, the daring FBI agent who becomes the first African-American to join the Klan. Washington's years of training on Ballers really helped here, as he's the perfect combination of humorous bravado and reckless daring. Plus, Washington talks like a diva wide receiver whenever he's on the phone with the KKK, only with the enunciation needed to fool bigots into thinking he's another ignorant white guy. With BlacKkKlansman, he embraces the role of a lifetime and shows that he learned a lot from his daddy about how to excel as a lead actor.

Bradley Cooper has come a long way since his days as the friend zone’d journalist in Alias. As Jennifer Garner’s career gets reduced to Peppermint roles, Cooper’s reached the pinnacle of Hollywood celebrity with A Star Is Born. He co-wrote, directed, and starred in the fourth version of this film.

Cooper plays a talented but self-destructive alcoholic whose life changes during an eventful trip to a gay bar…but not like that. He hears a woman named Ally sing. Within 24 hours, the two are genuinely in love. This project is the hallmark achievement of Cooper's illustrious career, and he's a worthy choice as one of the best two actors of the year.

Be honest. Would you have known that Christian Bale is in Vice if that fact hadn’t been heavily publicized? The actor is well-known for his willingness to thrust himself into roles. He once dropped under 140 pounds to play an emaciated character, because method acting is for wusses. In his latest film, he one-upped himself with a totally anonymous performance as Dick Cheney, who has 23 years and a pregnant belly on the actor. Vice is a divisive production that isn't for everyone, but virtually everyone agrees that Bale is easily the best part.


In an odd twist, four out of our top five choices for Best Actor this year were roles based on real people. Fourth place belongs to Rami Malek for his uncanny portrayal of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. Mercury was the rare 1980s musician who was comfortable with his sexuality, and Malek embraces all the challenges of a tortured, bisexual man with serious daddy issues. Ryan Gosling’s work as Neal Armstrong in First Man was revelatory for a different reason. Much is made of the man’s conquering of the Moon, but Gosling dug deep to show the father’s haunting over the death of his young daughter.

Let’s be honest. First Reformed is a bizarre film. BOP fave Ethan Hawke plays a minister who is questioning the faith. He’s also alcoholic and fairly suicidal. Then, he acquires a suicide vest. The story is challenging, and it clearly wouldn’t work without Hawke’s ferocious acting talent. Hawke narrowly edges Chadwick Boseman, whose work as Black Panther guarantees that he’ll be an A-List actor for the rest of his life. Boseman’s dazzled us going all the way back to The Express in 2008, and we’re thrilled with his sudden, dramatic ascension.

The rest of our Best Actor list is decidedly inclusive, and Hollywood deserves some credit for doing a better job in this area. Eighth place entrant Lakeith Stanfield is like John David Washington in that both of their characters masquerade as white people to advance their careers. For reasons I don’t want to spoil, more is asked of Stanfield. Our ninth selection is Stephan James for his work as a wrongly incarcerated man in If Beale Street Could Talk. And our final nominee is longstanding BOP fave John Cho for his dogged determination in Searching. If you're counting (and I guess I am), six out of 10 selections this year are minorities. That's a substantial step forward for the filmmaking industry.

Narrowly missing nomination this year is a bunch of white guys. We loved but couldn’t select Robert Redford for The Old Man and the Gun, John Krasinski for A Quiet Place, Joaquin Phoenix for You Were Never Really Here, or Tom Cruise for Mission: Impossible – Fallout. We also adored Daveed Diggs in Blindspotting and Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It was another great year for Best Actor.

2019 Calvin Awards
Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actor Film Total Points
1 John David Washington BlacKkKlansman 80
2 Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born 54
3 Christian Bale Vice 52
4 Rami Malek Bohemian Rhapsody 49
5 Ryan Gosling First Man 39
6 Chadwick Boseman Black Panther 34
7 Ethan Hawke First Reformed 33
8 Lakeith Stanfield Sorry to Bother You 32
9 Stephan James If Beale Street Could Talk 31
10 John Cho Searching 28



Need to contact us? E-mail a Box Office Prophet.
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
© 2024 Box Office Prophets, a division of One Of Us, Inc.