HOLLYWOOD—So we’ve made predictions regarding who might win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Now it’s time to turn the conversation to the big prizes of the night: Best Actor and Best Actress. Let’s kickoff the conversation by discussing Best Actress because I feel this race has a very clear front-runner and likely winner.

Earlier when awards season started it was a race in my opinion between Glenn Close “The Wife” and Lady Gaga “A Star is Born.” This is not to throw any shade at Melissa McCarthy “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” Yalitza Aparicio “Roma” and Olivia Colman “The Favourite.”All three ladies deliver fantastic work, if there is a potential dark horse it would be Colman who could claim victory if Close or Gaga split the vote.

So returning to those ladies, Gaga is great in the movie, but she’s not going that far of a stretch playing a struggling singer. A solid film debut, but when you compare her to Close who has been nominated six times before, a total of seven considering this latest nod, she’s long overdue. I hate, and I mean hate saying this, but the Academy is known for giving out the Oscar to those who have been nominated multiple times and is ‘deserving.’ I hate that, but I have plenty of evidence to prove it, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julianne Moore to say a few.

Close taking home the Golden Globe and SAG Award cements her in my opinion as the clear victory. I don’t see Close losing to Gaga, but if an upset transpires it will be Colman. Now let’s talk more about Best Actor because a month ago, I thought Christian Bale was a lock for his performance in “Vice.” However, after Rami Malek took home the Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” everything changes.

Looking at the contenders, this is more a two-person race between Malek and Bale. This is not to take anything away from Bradley Cooper “A Star is Born,” Viggo Mortensen “Green Book” and Willem Dafoe “At Eternity’s Gate.” I love Cooper, but I think he’s done finer work, i.e. see “American Sniper.” Viggo would have a stronger chance if he wasn’t competing against Malek and Bale. Then you have Dafoe. I think this guy is a major dark horse who is being underestimated.

Remember he was nominated last year for Best Supporting Actor for “The Florida Project.” Dafoe has been nominated three times before, four if you count this year’s nomination.  Members of the Academy might want to deliver Dafoe a victory and his performance in “At Eternity’s Gate” should not be overlooked. Back to Bale and Malek, they’ve split wins this awards season, and both performances are beyond transformative. I mean Malek is stellar as Freddie Mercury and Bale is phenomenal in “Vice.”

If I’m rating both performances I give a slight edge, and I mean slight edge to Bale for his work in “Vice.” I mean this guy is a method actor and immerses himself into a role in ways that not many actors do. Malek is just as riveting in his role as Mercury, so how the Academy chooses to vote is totally up in the air. The one thing hurting Bale is he already has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “The Fighter.”

Whereas, Malek is a first-time nominee and “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a major success at the box-office over “Vice.” So both actors have an equal shot, I think Bale should win, but some odd feeling tells me that Malek is going to edge out the victory. There could be an even bigger shocker, if they split the vote and Dafoe is named the victor.