Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oscar Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 15th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories, saving some of the biggest categories for last.

Last year’s nominees: Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew McConaughey

This year’s locks: Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch

Very likely: David Oyelowo, Steve Carell

Possible: Bradley Cooper, Michael Keaton, Jake Gyllenhaal

Unlikely: Ralph Fiennes, Timothy Spall, Miles Teller

The rundown: Last year, Tom Hanks, a sure thing, and Robert Redford, who seemed for a while like a sure thing, both got snubbed in favor of two late-breaking contenders, Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio, who mustered strength after Golden Globe nods to ultimately earn Oscar nominations after SAG snubs. This year, it seemed for a while like a six-person race, with David Oyelowo (Selma) missing out on a SAG bid because the guild didn’t see his film. He also got snubbed by BAFTA, but I think that Oscar voters will really go for the film. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) are locks. The big gamble that I’m making is to predict a snub that I’ve thought would happen for a long time: Michael Keaton (Birdman). He’s such a sure thing that it seems plausible that, like Ben Affleck for “Argo,” he would be left off because everyone assumed that everyone else was voting for him. More voters will be eager to reward Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), and I even think that Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) might garner more passionate support. The surprise nominee I’m expecting is Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), who has been nominated the past two years and steps out of his comfort zone to play against type in a film from Clint Eastwood that has surged since being shut out by both the Golden Globes and SAG. There will also be some enthusiasm for Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), whose film is extremely popular, Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), who hasn’t been getting as much attention as he should, and Miles Teller (Whiplash), whose film seems primed for a major showing that may not include him. I realize that these predictions aren’t necessarily smart, but I think this is the most volatile and uncertain category.

One possible crazy scenario: A nominee I’d love to see, Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year), gets recognized for an underrated film after also being snubbed last year for “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Forecasted winner: As long as precursors agree, Redmayne should be the frontrunner.

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