Over the past few weeks, Riz Ahmed (“The Sound of Metal”) has been rising so fast in the Oscar Best Actor race that it now looks like he’ll land a nomination, according to the latest odds at Gold Derby. He’s now ranked in fourth place among our Experts and in fifth place among all Gold Derby users. He just bumped Kingsley Ben-Adir (“One Night in Miami”) down to sixth place in a race reserved for five men. One month ago, Ahmed was ranked way down in ninth, but has since also climbed above Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Tom Hanks (“News of the World”) and Steven Yeun (“Minari”).
Ahmed has been receiving some of the best reviews of his career for his performance in “Sound of Metal,” in which he plays a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing. He already picked up a Gotham Award nomination and is expected to pop up at other upcoming award shows on his way to a potential first Oscar bid. If he were to earn that nomination, Ahmed would become the first actor of Pakistani descent in Oscar history to do so, in addition to being a rare actor of South Asian heritage to accomplish this. On the flip side, Ahmed would join a long line of Emmy-winning actors who kept their momentum going with a subsequent Oscar nomination.
The actor won an Emmy in 2017 for his lead role on the HBO limited series “The Night Of,” in which he gives another fiercely committed performance as a man who fights for his innocence after being imprisoned. An Oscar nomination just a few years later would put Ahmed on a similar path of other recent Emmy winners like Laura Dern (“Big Little Lies”; 2019’s “Marriage Story”), Regina King (“American Crime,” “Seven Seconds”; 2018’s “If Beale Street Could Talk”), Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”; 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”), Frances McDormand (“Olive Kitteridge”; 2017’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Allison Janney (“Mom,” “Masters of Sex”; 2017’s “I, Tonya”), Richard Jenkins (“Olive Kitteridge”; 2017’s “The Shape of Water”), Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”; 2016’s “Fences”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”; 2015’s “Trumbo”).
Of the group, King, Malek, Janney and Cranston had never been Oscar-nominated before, and only McDormand was a previous Oscar champ. Dern, King, Malek, McDormand, Janney and Davis converted their bids into wins.
With the line between film and television continuing to blur, it is less surprising to see actors earning accolades from both the Emmys and the Oscars. And considering Ahmed’s rising stardom, it would not be a surprise to see the actor join that group.
Ahmed tells Gold Derby that he found the “Sound of Metal” script to be “very moving and so specific and unique, filled with some things that were scary or challenging.”
Director Darius Marder told him “that whoever is going to do this role, I want them to be really drumming when they’re drumming on screen, which I found really scary but also exciting with that possibility of learning that new language alongside with learning American sign language for the role.”
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