First Nomination Predictions
Chadwick Boseman "Get On Up"
Steve Carell "Foxcatcher"
Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game"
Oscar Isaac "A Most Violent Year"
Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice"
Other Contenders - Ralph Fiennes "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Jack O'Connell "Unbroken", Matthew McConaughey "Interstellar", Ben Affleck "Gone Girl", John Lithgow "Love is Strange", Alfred Molina "Love is Strange", Michael Keaton "Birdman", Jeremy Renner "Kill the Messenger", Brendan Gleeson "Cavalry", Timothy Spall "Mr. Turner", Eddie Redmayne "Theory of Everything", Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes", Robert Downey Jr. "The Judge", Brad Pitt "Fury", Russell Crowe "Noah", Philip Seymour Hoffman "A Most Wanted Man", Michael Fassbender "Macbeth", Al Pacino "Manglehorn", Al Pacino "Imagine", Colin Firth "Magic in the Moonlight", Bradley Cooper "Untitled Cameron Crowe Project", James McAvoy "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", Christian Bale "Exodus", Jeff Bridges "The Giver", Tommy Lee Jones "The Homesman", Mark Wahlberg "The Gambler", Tobey Maguire "Pawn Sacrifices", Jonah Hill "True Story", Ben Stiller "While We're Young", James Corden "Into the Woods", Dane DeHaan "Life", Miles Teller "Whiplash", John Cusack "Love & Mercy", Paul Dano "Love & Mercy", Tom Hardy "Child 44", Gael Garcia Bernal "Rosewater", Martin Freeman "The Hobbit: There and Back Again"
Commentary - For some reason, this year's Best Actor race, at first glance, doesn't seem to have the punch or power of last year's but alas, the year is still young. First let's start with those currently on the outside looking in. Ralph Fiennes is this year's first contender, but could be the early contender to survive. Jack O'Connell is the unknown lead in one of the year's most buzzed projects, Angelina Jolie and the Coen Bros' Unbroken. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina will have to figure out whether they are co-lead or one lead and one supporting, but both are apparently terrific in Love is Strange. Two British veterans Brendan Gleeson and Timothy Spall have two buzzed leading roles. Christoph Waltz and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman are borderline lead/supporting for their respective roles. Also watch out for Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Ben Affleck in Fincher's Gone Girl", Robert Downey Jr. up against Robert Duvall in The Judge, Al Pacino in two projects, Mark Wahlberg, young talents Miles Teller and Dane DeHaan, Brad Pitt for Fury, Colin Firth in Woody Allen's latest, Bradley Cooper in Cameron Crowe's latest, James Corden up against all those big names in Into the Woods, Tom Hardy, Eddie Redmayne, Tommy Lee Jones, and maybe Christian Bale. So then who is in? The last time Joaquin Phoenix paired up with Paul Thomas Anderson it ended with an Oscar nomination, his third. Phoenix may be a wildcard as a person, but he is an incredible actor, and despite all his antics, clearly the actors within the Academy respect his work. Many people were upset that last year's Inside Llewyn Davis was basically snubbed by the Academy. I personally think it is one of those films that grows on you with multiple viewings, so it is easy to see why if they only got through it once, they might not have appreciated it. That being said, it only took one viewing for me to appreciate the talent that is Oscar Isaac. He has nabbed the leading role in the JC Chandor film A Most Violent Year, and if he knocks it out of the park again, I don't think he will be ignored. Last year, a lot of buzz surrounded Bennet Miller's Foxcatcher, particularly the potentially potent role for usually funnyman Steve Carell. He was bumped off last year cause the film moved, but he definitely keeps his name in the conversation. The final two slots are for stars on the rise. Chadwick Boseman was great as Jackie Robinson in 42 (the film was a bit pedantic), and he gets another chance to play an American legend in James Brown. This time he has The Help's Tate Taylor at the helm, and what are sure to be great supporting performances surrounding him from the likes of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. If he channels the soul and energy of Brown, he could be one to watch for. The final slot for now goes to an actor who truly has been on the rise. He role in Sherlock has made him an international television star and an Emmy nominee. Last year, he had great roles in The Hobbit, August: Osage County, and a particularly juicy turn as Kahn in Star Trek Into Darkness. His star is on the rise, and his upcoming role has famed and tragic Alan Turning, could the one that makes him an Oscar nominee.