George Clooney "The Descendants"
Jean DuJardin "The Artist"
Michael Fassbender "Shame"
Gary Oldman "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"
Brad Pitt "Moneyball"
Other Contenders - Woody Harrelson "Rampart", Leonardo Dicaprio "J. Edgar", Michael Shannon "Take Shelter", Ryan Gosling "The Ides of March", Ryan Gosling "Drive", Tom Hardy "Warrior", Paul Giamatti "Win Win", Ralph Fiennes "Coriolanus", Demian Bichir "A Better Life", Asa Butterfield "Hugo", Thomas Horn "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", Joseph Gordon-Levitt "50/50", Owen Wilson "Midnight in Paris"
Commentary - This race has less competition than some of the other races, but there are still a couple of top contenders emerging. George Clooney seems to be in the lead as he is getting the best reviews of his career, and what couldn't put him over the edge with Up in the Air was his lack of emotion, and The Descandants certaintly can fix that problem. Right on his heels is the star of the underdog The Artist, Jean Dujardin who is simply fantastic in the film. Finally, I think Brad Pitt is in a solid third for his incredible performance in Moneyball, like his friend Clooney, he seems to be getting career-best reviews. Beyond those though there seems to be some confusion. I will firmly keep Gary Oldman in this race until precursors tell me otherwise, but the film needs to get some new buzz in order for it to really happen. In the final slot, I had kept Leonardo Dicaprio. But J. Edgar is simply not getting any better in terms of it Academy prospects, and the more its buzz continues to die, so do its chances of even getting Dicaprio in. So who gets the fifth slot? Despite still being uneasy about the NC-17 rating, I think there is enough support to get Michael Fassbender in for Shame, but watch out, Woody Harrelson, Michael Shannon, and Ryan Gosling are hot on in heels, as is Dicaprio, and he will have to work hard to make it happen.