11 Unexpected Actors Who Might Win Oscars Next Year

The Clown Prince of Gold?

Who doesn't love seeing a totally unexpected actor scoop up an Academy Award? After all, who could've predicted a few years ago that the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jean Dujardin, Sandra Bullock, Lupita Nyong'o and... Monique... would all end up with little gold guys? Sometimes an actor surprises us because they're simply not conventional Oscar material, as in the case of McConaughey, the star of bonafide classics like Surfer, Dude and Fool's Gold whose performance in Dallas Buyers Club sustained momentum from festival screenings all the way to the ceremony virtually unchallenged. Then there are actors like Nyong'o, who are unexpected simply because we most likely hadn't heard of them previously, even though her turn was a conventionally box-ticking, Oscar-worthy performance. This year's Oscar race won't really kick off in earnest until around September, but it's always fun to try and guess the winners way ahead of time, especially in the insanely competitive acting categories. And, going off prior successes, acclaimed source material and the fallout of this year's #OscarSoWhite controversy, we can make some educated guesses about a few left-field actors and actresses who could unexpectedly end up nominated for, and even winning an award outright.

11. Chris Pratt - Passengers

The Role: Jim Preston, a man on-board a spacecraft which is transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet. He's woken up when his sleep chamber malfunctions, and rather than spend the rest of his life in isolation, decides to wake up a female passenger, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). Why He Might Win: For starters, the film's being directed by The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum, it's got a prime Oscar-friendly December release date, and Pratt is starring opposite Lawrence, who is an Oscar darling and therefore likely to bring out to the best in him. If the film achieves the right mix of poignant drama, this could be Pratt's big break away from comedy with a Best Actor win. Why It's Unexpected: Because Pratt's career thus far has carved him out more as a charming movie star rather than a serious actor, typically appearing in light comedy and adventure movies. He could easily spend the rest of his career without a single Oscar nomination or win, rather simply turning in reliable starring roles in blockbuster fare and nobody would mind, but hopefully Passengers will show us a different side of Pratt's skill set.

Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.