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Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2015 Best Actor Contenders

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
March 10, 2014 2:49 PM
95 Comments
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The Next 5

Michael Keaton ("Birdman")
After years in something like the wilderness during the '00s, Michael Keaton's been on the serious comeback trail of late. Small, but well-received roles in "Toy Story 3" and "The Other Guys" led to a renewal of interest in the one-time "Batman" star, and he's already had a busy 2014, with roles in "RoboCop" and "Need For Speed." Could the comeback be cemented by an Oscar? Keaton has the lead role in "Birdman," a new comedy from "Babel" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and it's one that seems to be partly a meta-commentary on his career with the actor playing a faded star, best known for a superhero role, trying to revive his career on Broadway. After a few years where comeback narratives have won out in this category (Colin Firth, Matthew McConaughey), Keaton, who's never been nominated, has a good story to latch onto, and Inarritu's landed five Oscar nods for his last three films (including Best Actor for Javier Bardem in "Biutiful," a much less accessible film than this promises to be). As ever, it'll depend on how the film turns out, but Keaton could be in the mix.

Les Miserables

Eddie Redmayne ("Theory Of Everything")
Another Young Turk in a year where the veterans mostly look to be sitting proceedings out, Redmayne is an Academy neophyte, beyond his on-stage performance in "Les Miserables" last year, but he's stranger to awards, having won an Olivier and a Tony for his appearance in "Red." In his biggest screen role to date, Redmayne takes the lead in this biopic of Stephen Hawking, the legendary theoretical physicist who became one of the world's most famous scientists, despite suffering from motor neurone disease that left him paralyzed and unable to speak without technological aid. Disability plus an inspirational story often leads to at least a nomination, but Redmayne's biggest hurdle may be Benedict Cumberbatch (who coincidentally played Hawking in a TV biopic a few years back) -- there may only be room for one cheekbones-y young British actor in the final five.

Kill The Messenger

Jeremy Renner ("Kill The Messenger")
As the only principle cast member of "American Hustle" not to get an Oscar nomination (and having given a performance at least as good as his colleagues'), Jeremy Renner must be feeling a little hard done by from the Academy this year. But the two-time nominee (Best Actor for "The Hurt Locker," and Best Supporting Actor for "The Town") probably won't be licking his wounds for too long, as he's got a true-life story coming up that seems like it has a lot of potential to return him to the Dolby Theater. Renner has the lead in Michael Cuesta's "Kill The Messenger," playing investigative journalist Gary Webb, who uncovered CIA links to cocaine smuggling by Nicaraguan Contras backed by the Agency. Webb's reporting, which took many years, was initially discredited, but later proved to be pretty much on the money, but his career was left in tatters, and he later took his own life. It's a sort of "All The President's Men" vibe but with a more tragic ending, it seems, and with a promising director (Cuesta's best known on the big screen for "L.I.E," but has reinvented himself after helming the "Homeland" pilot) and cast, you can see why Focus have high hopes for it -- they just set it for the same October slot that helped them take "Dallas Buyers Club" to Oscar glory. It'll be execution dependent (the script is from Peter Landesman, who wrote the dire "Parkland"), but if it comes off, Renner will certainly be a contender.

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix ("Inherent Vice")
After a few years out for a fake hip-hop career and the related documentary shenanigans, Joaquin Phoenix has come storming back. Having cut out some of the, uh, filler he was making before his alleged retirement ("Ladder 49," anyone?), he's delivered nothing but great performances since his return, with his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Master" being followed by two more crackers, in Spike Jonze's "Her" (which in a less competitive year would surely have figured in), and James Gray's "The Immigrant." As such, he's always worth keeping an eye on, and though the Weinsteins' treatment of "The Immigrant" suggests that won't make much awards impact, a reunion with Paul Thomas Anderson on "Inherent Vice" certainly feels like it has potential. Phoenix was a relatively last-minute replacement for Robert Downey Jr on the project, but the chance to see him take on some lighter fare as a pothead P.I. could well pick up another nod if the film appeals to the Academy (though as we've said before, we're not 100% sure it will), despite Phoenix's refusal to campaign, and stated disdain for awards.

Cavalry

Brendan Gleeson ("Calvary")
A few years back, Brendan Gleeson picked up a surprise Golden Globe nomination for his hilarious turn in John Michael McDonagh's "The Guard," but couldn't convert it into further awards traction. But his reunion with McDonagh for the much-lauded Sundance picture "Calvary" could perhaps get further on. A more soulful and slightly less profane picture than its predecessor, Gleeson has received some of the best reviews of his career, and the film seems to be connecting with critics and audiences in a big way, if the reaction at Sundance and Berlin is anything to go by (read our rave review here). Given that he's been in everything, but has never been Oscar-nominated, Gleeson could well be a contender for that sort of Demian Bichir/Richard Jenkins slot, and Fox Searchlight seem to agree. They unexpectedly picked the film up, partly because, we're told, that they're planning a big awards push for Gleeson in particular. There's still obstacles (the film does start with an unseen man saying "I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old," which may cause more timid Academy voters to turn it right off) but if critics get behind him, Gleeson could definitely be a possibility.

Honorable Mentions: As ever, this is the most crowded category, and there's a lot of serious potentials lurking elsewhere too. Many have mentioned Philip Seymour Hoffman's last major role in "A Most Wanted Man" as a possibility for a posthumous nod, and he's said to be terrific in it. But it's hardly a crowd-pleaser, and the Academy can be difficult with posthumous nominations -- if Fox Searchlight couldn't get James Gandolfini one for "Enough Said" last year, the smaller Roadside Attractions might have an even tougher task on their hands. Meanwhile, this year's winner Matthew McConaughey will be back in Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar." The film does look like the helmer's most awards-friendly picture so far, but we suspect it'll be too soon for the star to crop up again unless it's another blinding performance.

There's already buzz for Ralph Fiennes in "Grand Budapest Hotel," and the actor is brilliant in it, but it'll be a real feat if it can keep up the momentum for nearly a full year. If the film lands in time, Michael Fassbender could get his second nod for "Macbeth," but it's worth noting that it's decades since someone was nominated for playing a Shakespearean role. It's not quite as long since a Mike Leigh film picked up Oscar nods, so it might be worth keeping an eye on Timothy Spall in "Mr. Turner," though it may be more BAFTA territory unless the film wins across-the-board raves.

Al Pacino is on the comeback trail, and has two of his most promising prospects in a long while coming up, in the shape of David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn," and comedy-drama "Imagine," but both are unknown quantities at this point, so we wouldn't bet the farm. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina got strong reviews at Sundance for "Love Is Strange," while further back, James McAvoy also got good notices for "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby," which the Weinsteins will be putting out at some point this year (hopefully).

In terms of big names, it's also worth watching Brad Pitt in "Fury"; Christian Bale in "Exodus"; Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl"; Robert Downey Jr in "The Judge"; Jeff Bridges in "The Giver"; Tobey Maguire in "Pawn Sacrifice"; Jonah Hill in "True Story"; Mark Wahlberg in "The Gambler"; Tommy Lee Jones in "The Homesman"; Adam Sandler in "The Cobbler" and Ben Stiller in "While We're Young." And for some potential first-time nominees, don't discount James Corden in "Into The Woods"; Tom Hardy in "Child 44"; John Cusack and/or Paul Dano in Brian Wilson biopic "Love & Mercy"; Gael Garcia Bernal in "Rosewater" and Dane DeHaan as James Dean in "Life," while there may yet be another campaign to see Andy Serkis' performance-capture work recognized, for "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes." Any others you think we've missed? Let us know in the usual place.

Read all our premature prediction pieces so far here.

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95 Comments

  • Magda | June 10, 2014 2:19 PMReply

    Without watching all the films it's ot serious to comment.

  • Diego | May 15, 2014 1:11 PMReply

    STEVE CARELL SHOULDN´T WIN
    BECAUSE IT WILL LOOK LIKE SANDRA BULLOCK FOR THE BLIND SIDE
    MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY SHOULD WIN ANOTHER OSCAR
    BECAUSE HE WON FOR DALLAS BUYERS CLUB AND NOW FOR INTERSTELLAR
    THE BLIND SIDE=FOXCATCHER
    APOLLO 13=INTERSTELLAR

  • Diego | May 15, 2014 1:08 PMReply

    TOP 10
    1.- MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
    2.- BEN AFFLECK
    3.- BRAD PITT
    4.- CHRISTOPH WALTZ
    5.- TOMMY LEE JONES
    6.- JOAQUIN PHOENIX
    7.- CHRISTIAN BALE
    8.- BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
    9.- RALPH FIENNES
    10.- STEVE CARELL

  • Diego Manuel Pisfil Ramírez | May 15, 2014 12:59 PMReply

    MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY SHOULD HAVE WON ANOTHER OSCAR
    BECAUSE HE WAS A VERY AMAZING IN INTERSTELLAR
    STEVE CARELL DOESN´T WIN A OSCAR BECAUSE IS GONNA TO LIKE SANDRA BULLOCK FOR THE BLIND SIDE
    BEST ACTOR
    BEN AFFLECK FOR GONE GIRL
    BRAD PITT FOR FURY
    CHRISTOPH WALTZ FOR BIG EYES
    TOMMY LEE JONES FOR THE HOMESMAN
    MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY FOR INTERSTELLAR

  • M. | April 10, 2014 2:28 PMReply

    Steve Carell already won this fcking award.

  • Emma | April 5, 2014 8:56 PMReply

    I think the best actor Oscar should definitely go to Ralph Fiennes for grand Budapest hotel. I truly believe that it is his time to win it.

  • Brett | March 25, 2014 12:05 PMReply

    What about John Lloyd Young in Jersey Boys?

  • Steph | March 24, 2014 8:16 PMReply

    Logan Lerman is a self-hating Jew who consistently whitewashes his own grandfather’s history as a Holocaust refugee, in interviews. So Lerman shouldn’t be starring in Fury, a movie about fighting Nazis.

  • AND | March 23, 2014 12:10 AMReply

    TOP 10 (No order):
    - Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice)
    - Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar)
    - Steve Carrell (Foscatcher)
    - Benedict Cumberbacht (The Imitation Game)
    - Jack O'Connell (Unbroken)
    - Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
    - Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
    - Christian Bale (Exodus)
    - Brad Pitt (Fury)
    - Michael Keaton (Birdman)

  • Rex448 | March 21, 2014 3:58 AMReply

    Renner is looking good here. I remember reading several of the cast/crew describe his performance as phenomenal, or something similar, last fall. Apparently got some people excited. I didn't know they were aiming for a fall release, so I didn't read much into it then. While I think it's too early for nomination talk, Renner seems like a good one to keep an eye on. He already has several pro-oscar traits in his favor anyway.

    Other than that, I would LIKE to see Phoenix, Issac, Spall, and Gleeson. Hopefully they will deliver, and are recognized for it justly if they do.

  • Gabriel | March 21, 2014 3:39 AMReply

    Turing isn't the basis for the Apple logo. Even a cursory check of the internet would have made that clear: see cnn article from 2011/10/06/opinion/apple-logo.

  • JK1193 | March 19, 2014 2:55 PMReply

    Top 10 Most Promising Contenders:

    Ben Affleck
    Christian Bale
    Steve Carell
    Benedict Cumberbatch
    Ralph Fiennes
    Philip Seymour Hoffman
    Michael Keaton
    Matthew McConaughey
    Joaquin Phoenix
    Jeremy Renner

  • Duane | March 19, 2014 12:25 PMReply

    I think Joaquin Phoenix would have already been nominated for both The Master and Her if he hadn't bad-mouthed the Oscars. If you're a voting Academy member, why would you want to vote for a guy who's already denounced what you're doing?

  • Chris | March 20, 2014 3:46 AM

    My thoughts exactly. Phoenix is a brilliant actor and should have won for the master, but in my opinion lost any chances after he purposefully made it clear he had little to no respect for the award. Unless he violently changed his tune and has been sucking up to the academy ever since, I do not expect to see him as a winner (or perhaps even nominee) anytime in the near future. I thought he was incredible in Her too, but I don't think he needed to be nominated for him/all of us to know it. He's made it very clear he defines success differently. I respect him for it, and have trouble including him on these lists too as a result.

  • Brett | March 18, 2014 12:15 PMReply

    If the Academy decided to expand the other major categories like they did for Best Picture (which is unlikely) my picks would be:
    1. Adam Sandler
    2. Joaquin Phoenix
    3. Steve Carrell
    4. Robert Downey Jr
    5. Michael Keaton
    6. Al Pacino
    7. Chadwick Boseman
    8. Christian Bale
    9. Tobey Maguire
    10. Brad Pitt or Jeff Bridges (can't decide)

  • Nihal | March 17, 2014 12:02 AMReply

    Is nobody gonna mention Tom Hardy for Locke?

  • JK1193 | March 19, 2014 2:50 PM

    In response to the release dates mentioned below, Blue Jasmine came out in July.

  • Franka | March 17, 2014 9:08 AM

    Think release dates. Other than the VERY occasional film released in the spring (moonrise kingdom which was only nominated for screenplay, or Midnight in Paris, which IS Woody Allen after all), movies released in the spring rarely get major nominations. Short Term 12 was overlooked this year, and same with Frances Ha. The only movie that was released in May that was nominated for a major award was again Allen (Blue Jasmine). Any a24 film released this spring (or The Immigrant or Only Lovers Left Alive) are NOT going to get any nominations come the end of 2014.

  • Gedron | March 16, 2014 11:39 PMReply

    Does anyone know where I can read a copy of the script for inherent vice or fury? for my own personal enjoyment...

  • Kurskij | March 17, 2014 1:11 PM

    Off to imdb you go.

    It will be easier both to get a reply and get the scripts. Inherent Vice is around for a while iirc.

  • M. | March 16, 2014 8:46 PMReply

    Phoenix and Carell are def. getting noms. Other three not so certain

  • Lou | March 16, 2014 2:11 AMReply

    No love for Michael Peña? Been hearing good things about his role as Cesar Chavez.

  • Lou | March 16, 2014 2:13 AM

    Er, Michael Pena. Guess the tilde isn't recognized around these parts.

  • - | March 14, 2014 1:28 PMReply

    Joaquin'll probably deserve a nomination but won't get one, as he did for Her.

  • Rian | March 14, 2014 9:09 AMReply

    Brad Pitt for Fury is a contender at least based on the script and Logan Lerman for supporting - great, intense role for a young actor. Sony obviously has a lot of confidence in the material to position it in mid November. Having read the script, I think it's a wise move.

  • Gedron | March 16, 2014 11:36 PM

    Rian where can i read a copy of the script...email me a link, id really love to read it

  • gerard kennelly | March 14, 2014 1:56 PM

    best supp actor
    shia labeouf FURY
    willem dafoe A MOST WANTED MAN
    michael smiley GLASSLAND
    josh brolin INHERENT VICE
    channing tatum FOXCATCHER

  • AD | March 14, 2014 9:05 AMReply

    Seriously underestimating David Ayer's Fury and a potential Brad Pitt Best Actor nom. Read the script which it's gritty and riveting. Ayer wasn't joking when he said he wanted to do something with the WWII genre.Pitt's and Logan Lerman's characters have nearly the same amount of onscreen time with the Lerman character slightly longer but they will probably position the younger actor for the supporting category. WarDaddy is no Aldo Raine.

  • STH | March 13, 2014 9:58 PMReply

    Brad Pitt for Fury, he is one of the best actors and he will do a great job. As for supporting maybe Logan Lerman is having his chance to get his first nod.

  • STH | March 13, 2014 9:57 PMReply

    Brad Pitt for Fury, he is one of the best actors and he will do a great job. As for supporting maybe Logan Lerman is having his chance to get his first nod

  • STH | March 13, 2014 9:57 PMReply

    Brad Pitt for Fury, he is one of the best actor and he will do a great job. As for supporting maybe Logan Lerman is having his chance to get his first nod

  • B | March 13, 2014 9:03 PMReply

    Isn't "A Most Violent Year" getting a 2015 premiere???

  • Max | March 13, 2014 9:23 PM

    No. It's ben slotted for this November.

  • NEFTALI DE LA CRUZ SON | March 13, 2014 2:34 PMReply

    RDJ and McConaughey should be top contenders

  • Nefeli | March 13, 2014 1:18 PMReply

    Robert Downey Jr for the Judge???

  • harry lock heart gay perry | March 14, 2014 1:59 PM

    comes as a shock
    seeing that pic from THE JUDGE
    seems like forever
    since we saw downey jr in a serious film
    imo
    he deserved noms for
    zodiac
    and 'wonder boys'

  • FDR | March 13, 2014 9:06 PM

    Robert Downey Jr. is a great actor and I think this is going to be an excellent movie, hopefully he gets the nod.

  • Matty F | March 13, 2014 8:45 AMReply

    JK Simmons-Whiplash?

  • kami | March 13, 2014 7:21 AMReply

    Jack o connell will be the youngest winner ever (If he win). also nominee (except jackie cooper for skippy). Adrien broody who was 29 the most youngest best actor winner now. He deserved it. Jlaw win by his stupid ammature role so why not him. Steve carrell should go for supporting and michael keaton should be nominate. and what about ben foster lance armstrong film?

  • tina | March 12, 2014 8:49 PMReply

    Robert Pattinson is the lead in LIFE : its a movie a about a photographer roadtrip with James Dean

  • Berkeley | March 13, 2014 9:13 PM

    I agree, and I'd add Guy Pearce for The Rover.

  • Brett | March 12, 2014 5:18 PMReply

    Nicolas Cage for Joe?

  • Dr David Hill | March 12, 2014 3:20 PMReply

    It is a great pity that the 'establishment' did not think of Alan Turing in his great hour of need and even where Churchill abandoned him and saved a traitor. So very sad but unfortunately so very true - http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-establishment-makes-amends-but_720.html

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

  • Marcus | March 12, 2014 11:29 AMReply

    Well, if the Academy had any balls--which we know they don't--James McAvoy would get a nod for 'Filth.' He's stupendous in it.

  • LUJAN | March 13, 2014 6:26 PM

    I agree, the work of James McAvoy in that movie is tremendous!! But I think his nomination should have been this year, since Filth is a film of 2013. But also his role in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby could be another possibility.

  • Sam E. | March 12, 2014 12:11 PM

    I haven't even seen the film but Cage couldn't get a nom in what was possibly the best role of his career playing a similar character in Bad Lieutenant. So, I would agree it's probably not happening.

  • ash | March 12, 2014 9:07 AMReply

    for Fury, I think Logan Lerman's character is more baity than Brad Pitt's. But he's too young for a best actor nom...

  • ger heard Ken L E | March 14, 2014 2:01 PM

    do you have the script ?

    kennelly gerard @ yahoo dot com

    (thanks in advance)

  • Brett | March 12, 2014 10:16 AM

    Jesse Eisenberg from Social Network says hi

  • Andre | March 11, 2014 8:37 PMReply

    I'm betting on Cumberbatch finally getting some Oscar recognition and Jeremy Renner getting nominated after being unforgivably snubbed this year (HE did deserved a nomination for his work on American Hustle; Cooper and Lawrence shoudn't even had been nominated to begin with, with Adams maybe getting a supporting nomination). And it would be just fun to see Carell getting nominated and winning for supporting.

  • NewYorker | March 11, 2014 6:22 PMReply

    also i think The Gambler will probley be out in early 2015, like january 2015.
    its a nice month for a Mark Wahlberg movie including contraband, broken city & Lone Survivor.

  • Brett | March 11, 2014 5:29 PMReply

    What about Russell Crowe for Noah?

  • Brett | March 11, 2014 5:18 PMReply

    2014 seems to be Kevin Costner's big year with movies like 3 Days to Kill and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, so he could get nominated again with movies like McFarland or Ivan Reitman's Draft Day

  • raymond J barry | March 14, 2014 2:02 PM

    MR BROOKS was supposed to be a trilogy

  • Brett | March 11, 2014 5:04 PMReply

    Serkis is supporting but I agree he deserves a nomination, I mean for Christ's sakes there's a difference between motion capture and voice acting!

  • Brett | March 11, 2014 4:49 PMReply

    Sandler deserves a nomination and it's not just Cobbler, but Men, Women, and Children is a possibility as well, Sandler has talent!!!!! Forget Jack and Jill, Grown Ups, That's My Boy, if you would watch movies like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Punch Drunk Love, 50 First Dates, Reign Over Me, and Funny People and you would see that the guy CAN make good movies!

  • ASFan | March 12, 2014 9:12 PM

    Even if he gets a Razzie nom/win for Blended, there's still a shot at Oscar recognition as Sandra Bullock can attest to.

  • Matt | March 11, 2014 3:29 PMReply

    There's a serious lack of star presence here. This category has lent itself to movie stars over the last few years, 2013 (McConaughey, Bale, DiCaprio), 2012 (Cooper, Washington, arguably Jackman), 2011 (Pitt and Clooney) so not even having one star in your Top 10 seems kind of foolish to me.

  • Blake | March 11, 2014 5:38 PM

    It's this exact reason why I am keeping a close eye on Phoenix and Renner from this list, despite having a slight reservation for the parts that they're playing. There's no rule that previous Oscar noms or star power guarantee a recognition, but the fact that they are the only 2 here that have both does turn my head a little. I'm not going to rule out the possibility of 5 first-timers and relative newbies since Hollywood so often complains about not having enough leading men, but I have trouble seeing 5/5 as well.

    Very premature picks:

    Chadwick Boseman
    Steve Carell (if he does not go supporting; I can't tell if I'm being too presumptuous here)
    Brendan Gleeson
    Brad Pitt*
    Jeremy Renner

    *or other obligatory star power

  • didi | March 11, 2014 3:25 PMReply

    LOL ridiculous list. the Brit/indie bias is showing. Not gonna happen. Next please.

  • Roger | March 11, 2014 3:01 PMReply

    What's up with the underestimation of Fury? Sony's clearly positioning that as an awards contender and has nothing else to push. I've read the script and Pitt has a good part and a lot of goodwill in the industry lately with the work he's done as a producer. I think you guys are going to end up eating crow on that one or else you have something against Ayer/Pitt and are already prepping your pan. Five first time nominees isn't happening, also.

  • tom sell kick | March 14, 2014 2:10 PM

    pitt loved 'chopper'
    pitt is the reason bana was cast in 'troy'
    and pitt is the reason assassination jesse james got made
    he wants to produce BLONDE
    watts as marilyn monroe
    dominik will direct

  • benutty | March 11, 2014 4:17 PM

    AGREE.

  • Jamie | March 11, 2014 5:53 AMReply

    Doesn't that Lance Armstrong biopic come out this year? Could Ben Foster gain some traction for that? He's an amazing actor and always good even when the films themselves are not.

  • JuliaT | March 11, 2014 3:07 AMReply

    This was my first year watching the oscar race from the beginning and it seemed to be a long line of 'its going to be great, its going to be great, oh dear! its rubbish'. My only feeling at the moment is that the list looks interesting and I am really looking forward to The Imitation Game and Kill the Messenger. This sort of film is hard to get right and with the script the IG probably has the advantage, but from past experience, when it comes to the big final scene, I think Renner is more likely to reduce me to tears than Cumberbatch.

  • Kat | March 11, 2014 5:05 PM

    I agree. I find Renner very good at eliciting emotion from the audience, something he is very consistent in doing. It's a skill that has gotten him a long way with the academy. I don't have the same confidence in Cumberbach just yet, although Turing's persecution should give him more than enough opportunity for this.

  • Dan | March 11, 2014 3:11 AM

    Cumberbatch really hasn't had a chance to ask his audience to cry in any of his big screen roles.

  • Tim | March 10, 2014 10:57 PMReply

    I'd be completely shocked if "The Imitation Game" fails. Potent subject, topnotch cast, acclaimed script, promising director and an award-winning below the line team (William Goldenberg is cutting, fgs) not to mention Weinstein backing it.

  • Joe | March 11, 2014 12:04 AM

    @Rich I agree, at this point, it's the hype that'll cause disappointment. On paper, it's perfect.

  • Rich | March 10, 2014 11:41 PM

    I think IG looks perfect on paper, but there have been some issues with script execution and the overall message. I wouldn't count it out at all in the Oscars race. But I'd leave a little room to be disappointed. The hype on this film is already too high.

  • Max | March 10, 2014 10:32 PMReply

    On paper, this sounds like a pretty good year.

    My early predictions:

    Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
    Oscar Isaac - A Most Violent Year
    Michael Keaton - Birdman
    Jack O'Connell - Unbroken
    Jeremy Renner - Kill the Messenger

    Just missing out:

    Ben Affleck - Gone Girl
    Christian Bale - Exodus
    Gael Garcia Bernal - Rosewood
    Chadwick Boseman - Get On Up
    James Corden - Into the Woods
    Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
    Robert Downey, Jr. - The Judge
    Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Brendan Gleeson - Calvary
    Tom Hardy - Child 44 or Animal Rescue/The Drop/ Whatever it's called now
    Philip Seymour Hoffman - A Most Wanted Man
    Tommy Lee Jones - The Homesman
    Joaquin Phoenix - Inherent Vice
    Brad Pitt - Fury
    Mark Wahlberg - The Gambler

  • Jesse | March 10, 2014 9:23 PMReply

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Renner there at all, maybe even take it. Something tells me his action roles have made mainstream audiences forget what a strong contender he is in dramatic films (which could be an advantage); the last time he was the lead in a suspense/drama was The Hurt Locker, and that seemed to work out well. Renner is playing to his strengths here, along with a stellar story, cast, and crew.

    Cumberbach I expect to see just because of how juicy the role sounds but won't be sold on the performance until I see it; I'm unsure about Oscar Issac yet, but he certainly carries the heaviest 'snub' vote; and I'm on the fence about Michael Scott. If I stop calling him Michael Scott after the film, then Carell is definitely up for a nom. It's still way too early for this stuff, but last years predictions were pretty good, so officially consider these guys on my radar!

  • Rich | March 10, 2014 11:49 PM

    I agree on Renner, this could just be his year. Many characteristics of this film are also ones that have been present in his other Oscar-worthy performances. Execution will be paramount, but the conditions feel right. A win here would feel deserved.

  • benutty | March 10, 2014 8:06 PMReply

    I'd say: Pitt, TLJ, Phoenix and McConaughey are all safe bets... and Isaac is probably getting the 5th spot.

  • aka | March 12, 2014 7:30 PM

    Brad Pitt won't get in for lead

  • Ummm | March 11, 2014 2:35 AM

    You wanna make a 100,000 dollar bet on Pitt?

  • benutty | March 10, 2014 8:05 PMReply

    Oli, I think this is the most outrageous premature prediction you've ever offered. I'll be surprised if you get more than 1/5 from your top picks.

  • shark | March 10, 2014 6:53 PMReply

    Your top five is really, really newcomer-heavy, which is a huge gamble. Safe bet is to include at least one or two veterans. My top five would probably be:
    Brad Pitt, Fury (you guys are being incredibly stupid about this)
    Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
    Michael Keaton, Birdman
    Steve Carell, Foxcatcher OR Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
    Jack O'Connell, Unbroken OR Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up

  • marlon brand O | March 14, 2014 2:14 PM

    boseman..
    that reminds me
    where the hell was harrison ford this awards season ? ? ?
    he was brilliant in '42'

  • az | March 10, 2014 5:59 PMReply

    Apart from Joaquin nothing there makes me go wow, I think Lithgow, Molina and Timothy Spall could be ones to watch in what seems like a fairly muted year and Fiennes would be a lock in if the film hadn't been released so early. After a couple of competitive years, 2014, in foresight at least, feels kind of dull. As for the Weinstein seal, got a feeling those days are done with, too much meddling and a veering towards the bland and obvious.

  • Barb Dignan | March 10, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    I'd put big bucks on the "Batch" winning Best Actor Oscar for The Imitation Game. Weinstein has put his stamp on it, and it's Benedict Cumberbatch's moment.

  • lee | March 10, 2014 4:11 PMReply

    Where's Christoph Waltz for Big Eyes?

  • Oh Lord No | March 14, 2014 3:28 PM

    "where's christoph waltz for THE ZERO THEOREM ?" HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAA

  • respond to LEE | March 14, 2014 2:15 PM

    where's christoph waltz for THE ZERO THEOREM ?

  • Sara | March 10, 2014 11:56 PM

    I believe he's headed to supporting. It's Adams' vehicle.

  • Oogle monster | March 10, 2014 4:17 PM

    I wonder if he will go supporting and Adams will go lead. Wouldn't be the first time Waltz was subjected to category fraud.

  • yer | March 10, 2014 3:48 PMReply

    I've read the Foxcatcher script and I wouldn't even call Carrell the lead. Channing Tatum's character is the lead role. Carrell could easily get a supporting nod though, the role is pretty meaty.

  • wood E harrel son | March 14, 2014 2:19 PM

    compare this pic
    h t t p : / / w w w dot glen stephens dot com/Jan11- Du Pont %20 b e i n g%20arrested.jpg

    to this pic
    h t t p://static dot guim dot co dot uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/ p I c t ures/2013/8/23/1377261959407/Steve- C a r ell-in-Fo x c a t che-010.jpg

  • NewYorker | March 10, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    my prediction for best actor is defently
    Adam Sandler-The Cobbler or men, women & Children
    Benedict Cumberbatch-The Imitation Game
    Jack O'Connell-Unbroken
    Joaquin Phoenix-Inherent Vice
    Steve Carell-Foxcatcher

  • DUDDI | March 10, 2014 3:31 PMReply

    IMO, Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) has the best ODDS on your list to end up showing at the academy awards ceremony next year. Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice) has a good shot too. Jack O'Connell has a good part, but don't know how he is going to handle it, and also AA are not so friendly to "male" newcomers. Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up) could also be a contender, it all depends on his performance. Pitt, Bale, Downey Jr., Bridges, Sandler, Stiller don't look like contenders from this point, considering their roles. Lithgow & Molina look like the real contenders counting on the first reviews of Love is STrane. It would be awesome to see Pacino on the race again. Also Cage has been praised for his performance in JOE, but have no idea if he's going to take any love from the awards.

  • Q_Q | March 10, 2014 3:30 PMReply

    Miles Teller for Whiplash??

  • rian | March 14, 2014 9:17 AM

    teller is good but too new and it was really JK Simmons who made more of an impact in Whiplash - potential supporting contender

  • Rich | March 11, 2014 12:00 AM

    Something I wouldn't mind seeing either. But he may be too small of a fish in the already huge pile of cinema-ready neophytes here. Never say never.

  • Selma | March 10, 2014 3:20 PMReply

    I see Steve Carell for an nomination even though it's too early. I hope Joaquin Phoenix gets in there and Inherent Vice too. PTA is a genius too genius for the Academy, I suppose. But I hope good things for it.

  • Dxcv | March 10, 2014 3:13 PMReply

    From last year's piece regarding which of Gatsby or WoWS would give Dicaprio a better shot at a nom.
    " It's hard to tell at this stage which is the more viable option (we'd lean with 'Gatsby,' but the film's production troubles give us pause), and so we wonder if DiCaprio might end up missing out once again."

    Lol.

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