Saturday, February 22, 2014

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role

The competition: Christian Bale’s 70s con man (American Hustle), Bruce Dern’s confused patriarch (Nebraska), Leonardo DiCaprio’s cutthroat stockbroker (The Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor’s enslaved free man (12 Years a Slave), and Matthew McConaughey’s AIDS-stricken drug dealer (Dallas Buyers Club).

Previous winners: Daniel Day-Lewis, Jean Dujardin, Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges, Sean Penn, Daniel Day-Lewis
My winner: Michael B. Jordan
The facts: The only nominee who has won before is Bale, and it was on his first nomination, for his previous collaboration with director David O. Russell, “The Fighter,” in the supporting race. Despite being a ten-time Golden Globe nominee, this is only DiCaprio’s fourth Oscar nomination, and his second for a Martin Scorsese collaboration. Dern was nominated once before, in 1978 in the supporting category. All five of these films are nominated for Best Picture.

Who should win: None of these men make my list, but Ejiofor and Dern come closest.
Who will win: The frontrunner seems to be McConaughey for a number of reasons. He won both the Globe and the SAG, and he’s had a great year with roles on HBO’s “True Detective” and in “Mud” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and he shares a very memorable scene with his closest competition. DiCaprio has never won, and his film isn’t likely to be recognized elsewhere, so he could be it. He did lose the BAFTA, where McConaughey wasn’t nominated, to Ejiofor, who would win only if his film truly swept, and Steve McQueen’s frequent losses for Best Director indicate that it’s not likely to happen. Dern is highly improbable though it would be hard to argue with him as the selection if he was chosen, while Bale is the unlikeliest, and a win for him would signal eternal enthusiasm from Oscar voters for his film.

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