Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Best Actor Predictions

Best actor features a lot of strong contenders, this is tougher to figure out.  Lone Survivor is a late release that could surprise but it is doubtful if Mark Wahlberg could pull off a leading nomination here  if he couldn't in a weak 2010 with The Fighter Before Midnight was received well enough to hang on to Ethan Hawke as a potential surprise, but he will most likely be forgotten this year.  Idris Elba got a Globe nomination for Mandela: A Long to Freedom, but an Oscar nomination for this weakly received film is unlikely.  However a nomination for him could be seen an acknowledgement for the late Nelson Mandela by some.  The well liked Hugh Jackman, who had his first nomination last year, was well received in Prisoners but that film looks to miss out on the Oscars altogether.

The up and coming Oscar Isaac has his best role for Inside Llewyn Davis, the year is too crowded with veterans for him this year.  Christian Bale underwent a physical change and leads a strong ensemble for American Hustle, but little buzz seems to be about the former Oscar winner.  Joaquin Phoenix surprised with a nomination last year and has been received well in this role, but he has not performed well in the precursors.  Michael B. Jordan is still being brought up for his strong work in Fruitvale Station.  However the precursors have shown a preference to more experienced actors this year.  Jordan may be too young and new for this batch.  People tend to over predict Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar chances as he has only been nominated three times and was never a serious contender to win any of them.  The divisive response to Wolf of Wall Street could help or hurt him.

Forest Whitaker has not been doing the best in the precursors, but he did get a SAG nomination.  This is the type of role and prestige of performer that voters usually notice.  The Butler seems right up the Oscar's alley and I would not count him out just yet.  He is the most likely surprise in this category.  Tom Hanks has done better in the precursors for Captain Phillips than in supporting for Saving Mr. Banks.  With the film doing will in all the guilds he could is a strong contender.  I am only ranking Robert Redford below a lock because he missed a SAG nomination and All is Lost was too small of a release.  Still, this performance has been perfectly reviewed and the film icon has only received one acting nomination in his revered career.

After a strong two years the now respected Matthew McConaughey is finally a lock for a nomination in Dallas Buyers Club.  His weight gain has been well documented and the role has been well received.  Veteran Bruce Dern has been doing extraordinary at the precursors, there is no way he is not a major contender for a win with the well-liked Nebraska Chiwetel Ejiofor leads the difficult and much discussed 12 Years a Slave, he is the one the audience gets to feel for.  There is a definite emotional connection to this character in addition to respect for the performance.  Ejiofor and Dern are my predictions for wins, but the performances are much more subtle which is different than the large, over the top characters that often win in this category which may give McConaughey an edge.

Predicted Five:
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All is Lost
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Runner-Ups: Forest Whitaker (The Butler)

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