This category is beginning to look really crowded, and fast. Still, there are only a true handful of names that, to me, seem to be in true contention for the nomination. Yeah, we can talk about the countless names being tossed around right now, but really, I don’t think Oscar Isaac, Benedict Cumberbatch or Chiwetel Ejiofor are happening, and it’s not because I wouldn’t want to see it happen, but because it just isn’t going to.
Still, there are a few names that I left off my predictions that should not be counted out so easily. Tom Hanks is having a killer year, and while I think his best chances ride with ‘Saving Mr. Banks’, he could feasibly double dip this year if ‘Captain Phillips’ is a big Oscar hit. Harvey Weinstein has three men in contention right now, and all three are men of color, which makes for a refreshing look at this race. Still, I am not currently betting on Whitaker or Elba, but Whitaker’s reviews make him a threat and the nature of Elba’s film make him a contender, sight unseen.
With ‘Foxcatcher’ most likely getting the shaft to 2014, that leaves us with Dern and Bale to contemplate and eventually leave off my final predictions. The trailer for ‘American Hustle’ made the film look like it was pretty much about everyone BUT Bale, and while Dern did win a huge prize at Cannes, it was only because Redford wasn’t in contention for the prize and the reviews for the film (and the floundering buzz) have me thinking he’ll wind up this year’s Robert Duvall (remember his awards run for ‘Get Low’?)
So for now, I’m thinking:
1. Robert Redford/All is Lost
With reviews like that, you don’t get snubbed, especially when you are a beloved veteran who has an Oscar (for directing) and is said to give one of those most incredibly well rounded performances of the year (physicality + emotion). In fact, if he loses the Oscar it will be a huge shock.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio/The Wolf of Wall Street
IF Redford loses the Oscar, it’ll probably be to Leonardo DiCaprio, who is thought of to be one of the most overdue actors (maybe even THE most overdue) of his generation. This looks to be a more relaxed, less stuffy, loose and free DiCaprio, and playing against type can go a long way to netting an Oscar.
3. Michael B. Jordan/Fruitvale Station
He’s in one of the biggest films of the year, and he’s already solidified himself as the FIND of the year as well. Being the big breakout goes only so far, but when you couple that with the social importance of his film, the sympathetic nature of the character, the strength of his performance and WEINSTEIN you have yourself an Oscar nomination.
4. Joaquin Phoenix/Her
I don’t think I’ve EVER seen Phoenix look so relaxed and effortless than when watching him in the trailer for ‘Her’. He looks so delightful and, much like DiCaprio, playing against type. I think he could very well be the winner of our Comedy Globe this year, and the carryover from last year (many think he should have won) could make him a threat this year.
5. Matthew McConaughey/Dallas Buyers Club
He’s been heavily predicted since January thanks to a mix of ‘huge breakout status’ last year and the fact that this character is as baity as they come. I’m only skeptical because of the film itself, and since McConaughey looks like he could be the film’s only nomination (unless he drags in Leto) I’m wondering if he’ll wind up snubbed two years in a row.