Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2014 Best Actor Nominees

Awards
by Oliver Lyttelton
February 27, 2013 2:45 PM
37 Comments
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As part of our steady quest to go cold turkey from the Oscar season over the next few days, we've been running down some of our possibilities for the films that will be elbowing each other for awards in 2014. Yesterday, we looked at Best Picture, and today, we turn to Best Actor, won this year by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Last year, our Best Actor record wasn't too bad; excluding a category mix-up between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, we named all five eventual nominees as contenders, and directly predicted three of them. Still, we're very aware we're just gazing far off on the horizon, anything could happen and the year will crystallize itself closer to the fall. We're obviously working with minimal information, but we still feel ever-optimistic, and certainly feel more confident this time around. Take a look at our picks below, and let us know your own thoughts in the comments section. And tomorrow: Best Actress.

Best Actor

Strong Contenders

Steve Carell - "Foxcatcher"

Despite starring roles in "The Office" and Best Picture nominee "Little Miss Sunshine," Steve Carell hasn't been an awards magnet to date. He won a Golden Globe seven years ago for playing Michael Scott, but remarkably never picked up an Emmy for the performance. But we're reasonably confident that the Oscars will come calling in 2014, thanks to his starring role in Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher." Carell has impressed in his more restrained roles so far, and Miller's proven to be an ace hand with actors (getting Jonah Hill a nomination for "Moneyball"). Plus the part -- John DuPont, a schizophrenic millionaire wrestling fan who became the wealthiest man ever convicted of murder -- is a doozy. Carell's well-liked too, so unless the film or performance fails to live up to scratch, this might be the one to beat.

Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Twelve Years A Slave"

One of our favorite working actors, British star Chiwetel Ejiofor has impressed consistently in films as diverse as "Dirty Pretty Things," "Serenity" and "Children Of Men" without ever quite finding the one part that would take him to the next level of stardom. But that part could well be here with "Twelve Years A Slave." The film was envisioned from the ground-up by "Shame" director Steve McQueen, and stars Ejiofor as central character Solomon Northrup. And while the likes of Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt turn up in the film, Ejiofor is very much the sole lead, unlike Jamie Foxx in "Django Unchained," who had to share the limelight with Christoph Waltz. There's always the possibility that the film proves to be too brutal for Academy tastes -- Fassbender was hotly tipped for "Shame," but missed out at the last -- but we think Ejiofor has a better shot.

"The Fifth Estate."
Benedict Cumberbatch - "The Fifth Estate"

Ejiofor's "Twelve Years A Slave" co-star Benedict Cumberbatch is set for a big year in general: he'll also play the villain in "Star Trek Into Darkness," and appear in the next installment of "The Hobbit," as well as crop up with a meaty supporting part in "August: Osage County." But the showiest role is likely to be Julian Assange in Bill Condon's Wikileaks movie "The Fifth Estate." One only has to look at Jesse Eisenberg a few years back to see the potential of a slightly anti-social website founder who changed the world, as an awards contender, and Cumberbatch has the added benefit of the film hitting as his wave crests. This is one of those performances that, unless the film really tanks, may be irresistible to Academy members.

Matthew McConaughey - "Dallas Buyers Club"
Despite an extraordinary creative renaissance with "Killer Joe," "Bernie," "Magic Mike" et al, Matthew McConaughey failed to break into the Best Supporting Actor category this year for his role in the Steven Soderbergh film. But there's a lot of goodwill towards him these days, and he has one of the most awards-baiting lead roles of his career on the way, with the based-on-a-true-story tale "Dallas Buyers Club." McConaughey's weight loss to play AIDS sufferer Ron Woodruff -- who experimented with non-FDA approved drugs to extend his lifespan by six years (and helped other sufferers along the way) after being diagnosed with AIDS -- will surely earn him attention right off the bat. A part once intended for Brad Pitt, the physical transformation coupled with a strong performance could put McConaughey well in the race, even if the movie itself doesn't quite deliver.

Bruce Dern - "Nebraska"

Everyone loves a comeback story, and there's the potential for a doozy this year in the shape of Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," and the central performance from Bruce Dern. The actor has a fifty-year career under his belt, with one previous nomination (for "Coming Home" in 1978), and parts in plenty of classics, including "Silent Running," "The King Of Marvin Gardens" and "The Driver." Dern hasn't led a movie in years, but after Robert Forster, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall were all rumored, he landed the co-lead in Alexander Payne's black-and-white movie, about an estranged father and son on a road trip to collect a Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes prize. Payne's last three films have all led to acting nominations, the part's apparently an excellent one, and Dern's enough of Hollywood royalty that the narrative could be irresistible.

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37 Comments

  • JACK CRAWFORD | October 28, 2013 11:10 PMReply

    my predictions
    best supp actress 2014 nominees

    nyongo
    roberts
    seydoux
    scott thomas
    winfrey

  • BERNIE ROSE | October 28, 2013 11:08 PMReply

    my predictions
    best supp actor 2014 nominees

    abdi
    fassbender
    goodman
    gosling
    pansringarm

  • MIRANDA PRIESTLY | October 28, 2013 11:07 PMReply

    my predictions
    best actress 2014 predictions
    blanchett
    bullock
    exarchopolous
    larson
    streep

  • JORDAN BELFORT | October 28, 2013 11:04 PMReply

    my predictions
    best actor 2014 nominees
    dicaprio
    ejiofor
    hanks
    quaid
    redford

  • Michael M. | March 31, 2013 11:01 PMReply

    Let me make this clear, insofar as the ACADEMY:

    Best Actor: Chiwetal Ejiofor - Twelve years a slave (Runner Up: Leonardo Dicaprio)
    Best Picture: Untitled Abscam Project (Runner up: George Clooney, Martin Scorsese).
    Best Director: David O. Russell (Runner up: Wolf of Wall Street, Monuments Men).

    Personally Ejiofor should win, I mean come on? A gut-wrenching portrayal as the kidnapped Solomon Northup. With that given I think it's almost unavoidable, although DiCaprio could pull off an upset considering he's in Scorsese's highly anticipated project. While BD and BP are up for grabs, I wouldn't necessarily mind Russell winning. He's a solid director with Weinstein backing him, and an academy darling as of late. Although I could easily see Clooney walking away for his highly touted historical piece "The Monuments Men" as well. With that being said, alas! something in me yells: WILL YOU GIVE IT TO MALICK ALREADY!

    Anything else?

  • Jamie | March 8, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    Need to keep an eye on Hugh Jackman in Prisoners. The Academy will want to apologize for having to give the award to DDL when Jackman actually earned it.

  • Michael | March 5, 2013 4:12 PMReply

    Great job, just mention pretty much EVERY film released late in 2013 so you can pat yourself on the back for "predicting" the acting nominees...wonderful feat!

  • Jo | March 2, 2013 11:11 AMReply

    Watch out for PRISONERS, a top-rated 2009 Black List script, which may produce some gripping performances from Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, and Melissa Leo. The strong cast also includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Terence Howard.

  • Allie | March 3, 2013 1:04 AM

    I agree. I think it could turn out to be a really strong contender.

  • Kiss From France | March 1, 2013 5:30 PMReply

    Apparently, Leo said to Jean Dujardin that all the things he does and has suggested in "The Wolf of Wall Street" - sex and drug stuffs I guess - could make him banished from the area forever !

    Dujardin added that Leo gave all his guts in the part. So, to the people who claim he takes no risks anymore because of the consistent serious, depressing and ambiguous characters and choices them just to get a award : give me a breaaaak (that what Leo's doing by the way, mouhaha !!)

  • John | February 28, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    there is no way your 5 are making the cut in what you admit is a category that always sees familiar names/a-listers. Your 5 are all never-been-nominateds and that's, frankly, just 100% unrealistic. Benedict Cumberbatch seems like the only sure bet out of your 5 imo. Dicaprio and Hanks are two other sure bets that you stupidly left out.

  • - | February 28, 2013 12:41 PMReply

    I think Leo getting nominated is a pretty sure thing, seeing as his best work is often in Scorsesse films. (that is, unless the film ends up being really terrible)

  • bapi | February 28, 2013 8:19 AMReply

    Also Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace.

  • Alan B | February 28, 2013 2:12 AMReply

    Dennis Quaid Serious Face! Dennis Quaid Serious Face! Give the award to the Quaid-ster.

  • Tom | February 27, 2013 10:05 PMReply

    @Allan I dunno about you man but Cumberbatch's nickname in the TrekMovie is Cumby (other times, BC or nuSherlock). So there. And it is not just the gossip sites that call Fassbender Fassy, you know.

  • JB | February 27, 2013 8:02 PMReply

    Bale will indeed be a longshot as Weinberg for the Abscam movie. Thirty years ago, the plan for a movie with Weinberg as a likeable conman was scuttled after his wife committed suicide after revealing his nefarious activities on the side. And Weinberg himself is involved in both the old and new projects.

  • que | February 27, 2013 6:52 PMReply

    How is James McAvoy not on this list? The guy has 5 films coming out this year, including leading, vastly different roles in Filth, Trance, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

  • Travis Mills | February 27, 2013 4:52 PMReply

    Let's not forget, with talk from David Gordon Green, about Nicolas Cage in "Joe"

  • prakshid | February 27, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    Best Motion Picture
    "August Osage County"
    "The Counselor"
    "Dallas Buyer's Club"
    "Foxcatcher"
    "Labor Day"
    "Monuments Men"
    "Saving Mr. Banks"
    "Twelve Years a Slave"
    "Untitled David O Russell ABSCAM Project "- American Bullshit
    "The Wolf Of Wall Street"

    Best Actor In A Leading Role
    Tom Hanks - "Saving Mr. Banks"
    Leonardo Di Caprio - "The Wolf Of Wall Street"
    Matthew McConaughey - "Dallas Buyers Club"
    Christian Bale - "Untitled David O. Russell Project"
    Steve Carell - "Foxcatcher"

  • prakshid | February 27, 2013 4:23 PMReply

    My Top 30 Most Anticipated Hollywood Films of 2013
    1.THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
    2.THE COUNSELOR
    3. FOXCATCHER
    4.MONUMENTS MEN
    5.THE GREAT GATSBY
    6.SAVING Mr. BANKS
    7.THE DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB
    8.AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
    9.Untitled Project by David O. Russell
    10.Untitled Project by TERRENCE MALICK
    11.KNIGHT OF CUPS
    12. TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE
    13.LABOR DAY
    14.ONLY GOD FORGIVES
    15.RUSH
    16.NEBRASKA
    17.SERENA
    18.GRAVITY
    19.OUT OF THE FURNACE
    20.CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
    21.HER
    22.LOWLIFE
    23.THE BUTLER
    24.DIANA
    25. OLDBOY
    26.TRANCE
    27.INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
    28.TO THE WONDER
    29. BEFORE MIDNIGHT
    30.THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

  • cirkusfolk | February 27, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    Your link for lasts years piece takes us to the piece from two years ago.

  • russ | February 27, 2013 4:11 PMReply

    Anyone have a copy of the abscam script there willing to send my way. would be very nice to take a look at that.

  • prakshid | February 27, 2013 4:37 PM

    Which are the other film's script do you have?

  • Tom | February 27, 2013 4:10 PMReply

    Is Cumby confirmed in the "The Imitation Game" already because I want to see that film ASAP!!!

  • Allan | February 27, 2013 5:08 PM

    I don't think it's very likely this movie would be released within this year, considering the earliest possible filming schedule is after they wrap up filming for Series 3 of Sherlock, which may be in late summer, and Cumberbatch already has five movies line up for 2013. BTW, do you also call Fassbender Fassy, Gosling Gossy and Meryl Streep Streepy? Funny that some of The Playlist readers now seem from some gossip sites? Seriously, Cumberbatch isn't really that uncommon as a surname.

  • Allan | February 27, 2013 5:08 PM

    I don't think it's very likely this movie would be released within this year, considering the earliest possible filming schedule is after they wrap up filming for Series 3 of Sherlock, which may be in late summer, and Cumberbatch already has five movies line up for 2013. BTW, do you also call Fassbender Fassy, Gosling Gossy and Meryl Streep Streepy? Funny that some of The Playlist readers now seem from some gossip sites? Seriously, Cumberbatch isn't really that uncommon as a surname.

  • Jen | February 27, 2013 4:50 PM

    Yes it was confirmed on the producer's website.

  • Tom | February 27, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    Is Cumby confirmed in the "The Imitation Game" already because I want to see that film ASAP!!!

  • Tom | February 27, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    Is Cumby confirmed in the "The Imitation Game" already because I want to see that film ASAP!!!

  • oliver | February 27, 2013 4:17 PM

    Cumberbatch is confirmed for Alan Turing in the Imitation Game. His name is on the Production team's website. http://blackbearpictures.com/films-coming-soon/the-imitation-game/ Also a friend of his on twitter confirmed it too.

  • Tom | February 27, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    Is Cumby confirmed in the "The Imitation Game" already because I want to see that film ASAP!!!

  • Oliver | February 27, 2013 4:02 PMReply

    I'm most excited to see Cumberbatch as Assange and dearly would love him to win the Oscar. I've never seen him in a role where he doesnt deserve an award!!! However without a Weinstein type of figure pulling the strings with a huge pr budget no actor has a cat in hells chance of winning the award.

  • oogle monster | February 27, 2013 3:29 PMReply

    Why is everything underlined? I am currently being underlined. This is weird, Playlist! What's going on? Also Leo seems like a sure bet especially over your other contenders (for Wolf of Wall Street). I would also argue Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace and possibly Gosling in Place Beyond the Pines. But first, the underlining!

  • Liz | February 27, 2013 3:46 PM

    The underlining thing sometimes happens to me too (in Firefox). I refresh the page, open in a new tab, or close the window entirely, but it comes and goes seemingly in a completely random way.

  • Rex | February 27, 2013 3:05 PMReply

    Bruce Dern is winning. Dallas Buyers Club is gonna be a complete piece of shit.

  • brace | February 27, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    I'm always rooting for new contenders so your pick for best actor is perfectly fine with me.

  • cranly | February 28, 2013 1:45 AM

    Benicio Del Toro for Jimmy Picard. Well worth considering, I should think. A prime candidate for this year's Cannes best actor award, at the very least.

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