Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 Tony Predictions: Best Actor

The Tony Awards are drawing closer every day, and I continue to work my way through predicting the winners in all of the major categories.  Having already covered the Featured Actors and Actresses, I now turn my sights toward Broadway's leading men.  I will be using all of my soothsaying ability to determine who will win, and chiming in when I think that individual doesn't line up with the person who should win.
Also, before I go any further, I want to address the number of complaints people made about snubs after this year's nominations were announced.  Yes, big names like Denzel Washington, James Franco, and Daniel Radcliffe didn't get nominated.  Not everyone can make the cut; that's just how these things work, and I doubt anyone actually believes these men are more entitled to a nomination because of their celebrity status.  These people weren't snubbed so much as unlucky, because to me the idea of a "snub" means the actor was passed over in favor of someone far inferior.  Looking at these categories, I don't see anyone I can actively point to and say, "He didn't deserve to be nominated."  Yes, I probably would have swapped out Rocky's Andy Karl for The Bridges of Madison County's Steven Pasquale, but that is a personal preference, and Karl certainly earned his slot.  So let's just put all this snub talk to bed and go about making our predictions!

Best Actor in a Play

Given his fondness for lying and manipulating people, it only makes sense the meth dealer Walter White would find himself right at home in politics.
Nominees: Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night; Bryan Cranston, All the Way; Chris O'Dowd, Of Mice and Men; Mark Rylance, Richard III; Tony Shalhoub, Act One

This category could be renamed "Bryan Cranston and the Four Other Guys," because he is the clear frontrunner.  I am very happy Samuel Barnett was nominated for his understated, beautifully acted Viola in last fall's Twelfth Night, but the chances of him winning are extremely small.  Similarly, Tony Shalhoub is unlikely to beat out his higher profile competition given the indifference the Broadway community has for Act One.  And while Mark Rylance can never be completely ruled out of the game, the double nominee stands a much better chance of winning for his supporting work in the aforementioned Twelfth Night.

Cranston's biggest competition is Chris O'Dowd for playing the awards-baiting role of Lenny in Of Mice and Men.  Not to spoil a 75-year-old play, but Lenny is both developmentally disabled and meets a tragic end, an almost textbook character arc for a Tony-winning dramatic role.  However, by all accounts Cranston is a force of nature in All the Way, rarely leaving the stage during the play's 3-hour runtime and singlehandedly raising the show's artistic credibility.  Hopefully Cranston has room for on his shelf for a Tony to accompany his three Emmy Awards, because I'd call him a virtual lock for a Best Actor win.

Will and Should Win: Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Best Actor in a Musical

A denim crop top, fishnets, AND gold lame pumps?  You betta werk!!!
Nominees: Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Ramin Karimloo, Les Miserables; Andy Karl, Rocky; Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder; Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Two of these fine gentleman are doing heroic work in deeply misguided productions, and both their last names begin with "K."  Andy Karl has somehow figured out a way to channel Sylvester Stallone while still making his Rocky feel like authentic and unique, but the show is such a deeply flawed piece I can't imagine him actually winning.  Meanwhile, Ramin Karimloo's Jean Valjean is perhaps the best-sung out of all the nominees, and the West End sensation is one of the only things that makes the ponderous Les Miserables revival bearable.  Karimloo is definitely a contender, but ultimately I think voters will pick one of the remaining three gentlemen for the big prize.

Between A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder's two Tony-nominated leads, I think Bryce Pinkham has the harder role, but he pulls it off with such ease that you'd never know it.  Pinkham has the perfect roguish charm to make protagonist Monty Navarro (who, lest we forget, is a *serial killer*) someone you not only like but actively root for, grounding the show so that his costar Jefferson Mays is free to chew the scenery as all 8 members of the despicable D'Ysquith clan.  But Mays has garnered the lion's share of critical praise and adoration, and his flashy multiple roles could very well net him a second Tony Award.

And then there's Neil Patrick Harris, the Emmy-nominated television star who's multiple stints as Tonys host make it easy to forget he hasn't actually performed on Broadway in 10 years.  Harris' go-for-broke performance as the titular transgendered rocker in Hedwig and the Angry Inch is perhaps the biggest surprise of the season, dazzling in both its fearlessness and complexity.  Harris is simultaneously hilarious (his razor-sharp comic timing is on full display) and moving (especially in the show's latter half), proving he is the perfect actor to introduce this cult musical to a wider audience.  Although Mays is not out of the question, I'm predicting a win for Harris, who in addition to being fantastic also has years of goodwill built up from his hosting of the past three Tony Awards.

Should Win:  Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) or Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Will Win: Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Check back soon for what are possibly the most competitive races of the season, Best Actress in a Play and Best Actress in a Musical (subtitle: The Broadway Hunger Games).  And while you're waiting, check out the rest of my Tony predictions below!

2014 Tony Nominations React
Best Direction and Choreography
Best Book and Score
Best Featured Actor
Best Featured Actress

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