At this point last year Daniel Day-Lewis already had his third Oscar in the bag for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s film and we hadn’t even seen a trailer yet! This year’s race for best actor will take a bit more time to be decided, but we may have a front-runner.
Just before its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Dallas Buyers Club” unveiled its first trailer and showed what many have speculated as a potential nomination and win for lead Matthew McConaughey. Check out the trailer for yourself here.
So, whom are the other nine gentlemen vying for those five best actor spots? Read my list to find out.
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
In a recent interview, Matthew McConaughey dubbed his success over the last few years as a ‘McConissance.’ Sounds ridiculous, but if you’ve been paying attention, he’s not wrong. In the recently released trailer for “Dallas Buyers Club,” McConaughey looks to be on top form again. The time to reward him seems to be upon us, so unless the movie surprisingly bombs, this seems like a guaranteed nomination. A win? He’s at least the current favorite.
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Despite much acclaim, Michael Fassbender hasn’t been able to take his lead performances in his Steven McQueen collaborations to the Oscars. Chiwetel Ejiofor may be a different case. The actor plays Solomon Northup, a freeman who was kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years. Chiwetel has been a solid character actor for years but looks to make a huge splash with this leading role, possibly culminating with a nom.
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
The best odds anyone has for a nomination this year is Tom Hanks. Both his performance in “Saving Mr. Banks” and his turn in Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips” are top contenders in their respective categories. For his best actor push, the two-time winner plays Captain Richard Phillips, who in 2009 had his shipped hijacked by Somali pirates. Hanks looks to return to Oscars good graces after a long draught since his last nomination, 2000’s “Cast Away.”
Robert Redford – All is Lost
Speaking of long draughts, Robert Redford only has one acting nomination in his entire career. To be fair, he has 2 as a director – but still, only one? He looks to set the record for longest time in between nominations with his performance in JC Chandor’s “All is Lost” with his only nomination comgin in 1973 for “The Sting.” “All is Lost” debuted at Cannes and got strong notes from critics. Redford is apparently the only actor on screen for the film and a lot of it is without dialogue.
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Ok, so I had him in supporting last week, but between then and now Sony Pictures Classics officially said that he would be pushed in lead. Lead, supporting, it doesn’t matter, Carell is going to be a perennial contender this year with his performance as John DuPont in “Foxcatcher,” a paranoid schizophrenic who murders a former Olympic wrestler. Doesn’t hurt it’s for a Bennett Miller film, just ask Oscar-nominated Brad Pitt and winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
The winner of the best actor award at Cannes was Bruce Dern for his performance in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.” Dern has had a long career in Hollywood but is expected to receive his biggest notoriety this year, which puts him in the thick of the race for his second ever nomination. If comes down to a coin toss between Dern and Redford on sentiment Dern likely takes it since he doesn’t have a win like Redford does.
Idris Elba – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
This is a strong year for black actors competing in the best actor category. Already mentioned Chiwetel Ejiofor is joined by Idris Elba as he will play Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Morgan Freeman receive a nomination for his portrayal of the South African president in 2009, but Elba will play the younger Mandela, something we have not seen in a major American film. Elba’s exposure is also up thanks to films like “Pacific Rim” and “Thor: The Dark World.”
Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station
The talk out of Sundance this year was for “Fruitvale Station” and the electric performance from Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant. The film hit at the a chilling time as art and life intersected with the verdict on the George Zimmerman case which only added the appreciation of the film and Jordan. The only question is can he survive the long stretch of a July release all the way to March’s Oscars?
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Christian Bale struck gold in his last collaboration with David. O Russell, 2010’s “The Fighter,” can he do it again with “American Hustle?” Bale looks to give another wild performance as a con man that teams up with an FBI agent to take down corrupt politicians. However, he not only has to contend with the other nine men listed her, but he must also stand out amongst his co-stars who, just to name a few, include Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and recent best actress winner Jennifer Lawrence.
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio returns for his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Any time either of those names is thrown out, Oscar speculation is quick to follow. However, “The Wolf of Wall Street” may be the year’s biggest question mark. Is it a major player, or will it fare more along the lines of the duo’s most recent collaboration “Shutter Island?” My money is on the latter, but not enough to eliminate the possibility.