At this point, what a few weeks ago seemed like the most locked-up and boring race, has turned out into one of the most intriguing and exciting. There are still four men I would say are pretty much locked up for a nomination. They are Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. What makes the category so uncertain, is that the fifth spot will be fought for between at least four likely contenders, and if that weren’t enough, there are at least three more waiting in the sidelines to be a surprise nominee.
A couple months ago, Robert Redford seemed like a lock for giving an incredibly physical performance in All is Lost, a movie in which he was the only credited actor. Being almost a silent movie about an old man lost at sea, All is Lost hasn’t been doing all that well at awards shows. Redford could still show up, since he is pretty much a Hollywood treasure, but his absence from nominee lists at places like the Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy could be a sign of his weakness. A guy who did get into the SAG nominations was Forest Whitaker, who plays the title role in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. It’s not very cool to like that movie, but one should remember that it has the power of campaigner extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein behind it, and that it was actually a blockbuster, grossing about 116 Million dollars at the U.S. box office.
However, the buzz lately doesn’t belong to either of those actors. On the one hand, we have Christian Bale, who could very well benefit from the fact that award voters seem to be enraptured with American Hustle. On the other, there’s Leonardo DiCaprio, who could have been a lock for the win for The Wolf of Wall Street, but could have difficulties now thanks to the movie’s late arrival and the controversy surrounding its subject matter. All these contenders, and there isn’t room for other performances that could easily have been nominated any other year. Joaquin Phoenix in Her, and Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station, for example. Or, my personal favorite in the category, but one that is most likely going to get ignored, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis.
Will Be Nominated: Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Robert Redford (All is Lost)
Should Be Nominated: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Gael García Bernal (No), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)