Best Actor Oscar: Why Brendan Fraser is the new Matthew McConaughey

Remember the “McConaussaince” of 2013? If you’re reading this website, of course you do. Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil referred to it as the time when Matthew McConaughey went from “surfer dude to serious actor” and was justly rewarded by the Academy Awards for his gut-wrenching performance in the docu-drama “Dallas Buyers Club.” A decade later, awards watchers are in the midst of another well-publicized career redemption, this time for Brendan Fraser. Hmm, how does “Fraserssaince” sound?

Following a breakout decade in the 1990s that featured instant classic performances in “Encino Man” (1992), “George of the Jungle” (1997) and “The Mummy” (1999), Fraser’s career experienced several setbacks in the 2000s. “I needed to take some personal time in my career and life,” the actor revealed in a recent interview with our senior editor Christopher Rosen. But that personal time ended last year with he got cast in A24’s “The Whale.”

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In the critically acclaimed film from director Darren Aronofsky and writer Samuel D. Hunter, Fraser takes on the role of Charlie, a 600-pound man living alone in his apartment. Despite his dire predicament, Charlie still has a hopeful outlook on life and finds there is beauty in the world. Fraser received his first career Oscar nomination for the role, and has already won prizes from the Critics Choice and SAG Awards.

A decade ago, McConaughey also won the Oscar, Critics Choice and SAG Award thanks to his career-best performance in “Dallas Buyers Club,” in which he played Ron Woodroof, a real-life AIDS patient. Ironically, McConaughey lost weight for his heralded role, while Fraser appeared much heavier in “The Whale” thanks to the aid of a prosthetic suit. The hair and makeup artisans for both films received Oscar bids for their transformative work, with the “Dallas Buyers Club” team prevailing.

SEE‘The Whale’ hair and makeup Oscar nominee Adrien Morot: ‘I couldn’t ask for more’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

The similarities between the two actors’ journeys don’t end there. Neither won the BAFTA Award (McConaughey was snubbed; Fraser lost to Austin Butler of “Elvis”). Both were joined in the Oscar nominations by a supporting performance (ultimate winner Jared Leto for “Dallas Buyers Club”; pending nominee Hong Chau for “The Whale”). And both locked elbows with Best Actress contender Cate Blanchett throughout the entire awards season (“Blue Jasmine” in early 2014, “Tár” in early 2023).

If Brendan Fraser really is the new Matthew McConaughey, that means he’s in prime position to win the Oscar on Sunday, March 12. According to Gold Derby predictions, Best Actor is a tight race. Butler currently has a narrow lead at 7/2 odds, while Fraser is right behind him at 71/20 odds. But it’s still anyone’s game. Rounding out the category are Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) at 4/1 odds, Bill Nighy (“Living”) at 9/2 odds and Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) at 9/2 odds.

PREDICT the 2023 Oscar winners through March 12

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