Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Johnny Depp "Into the Woods"
Edward Norton "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo "Foxcatcher"
Tim Roth "Selma"
J.K. Simmons "Whiplash"
Other Contenders - Domhnall Gleeson "Unbroken", Robert Duvall "The Judge", Martin Sheen "Trash", Tom Wilkinson "Selma", Logan Lerman "Fury", John Goodman "The Gambler", Ethan Hawke "Boyhood", Josh Brolin "Inherent Vice", John Lithgow "Love is Strange", Chris Pine "Into the Woods", Ansel Elgort "Men, Women & Children", Neil Patrick Harris "Gone Girl", Tyler Perry "Gone Girl", James Gandolfini "The Drop", Michael Caine "Interstellar", Matthew Goode "The Imitation Game", Miyavi "Unbroken", Casey Affleck "Interstellar", Michael Pena "Fury", Jamie Foxx "Annie", Common "Selma", Charlie Cox "The Theory of Everything", Benicio Del Toro "Inherent Vice", Dominic West "Pride", Shia LaBeouf "Fury", Garrett Hedlund "Unbroken", Finn Wittrock "Unbroken"
Commentary - This category is one of those strange ones, where are are three guys that seem out front at the moment, and then the list just drops off, with so many contenders and not really a clue who will fill that last two slots. After flirting with Oscar for years now (he should have been nominated for Juno), it looks like J.K. Simmons has a real shot at getting his first nomination. And as Whiplash continues to role on the festival circuit, and critics and the team push his veteran status, he could easily be a front runner for the win. Edward Norton joins his co-stars Michael Keaton and Emma Stone in the Oscar buzz for Birdman. He has been nominated several times, and this looks like the perfect role for him. Mark Ruffalo looks to earn his second Oscar nomination for Foxcatcher, another early Best Picture favorite that continues to build steam. His nod may depend on whether Channing Tatum goes supporting (which honestly would be smart, they have a better chance of getting two into supporting than they do into lead). Beyond these three though, there is no clear pick for the last two slots, especially considering that most of the big contenders have yet to be seen. Robert Duvall apparently struts his stuff in The Judge, but it has to hit better with critics and audiences than it did at Toronto. Domhnall Gleeson and Logan Lerman are getting the most buzz from their war-era films, but they both have large casts where any number of contenders could emerge. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro with a Paul Thomas Anderson could have promising results. John Goodman deserves some recognition, maybe The Gambler is his ticket. Ethan Hawke could get a second nomination if Boyhood remains strong. James Gandolfini missed out for Enough Said, but maybe The Drop gets him a posthumous nomination. Tom Wilkinson playing LBJ is certain to turn some heads. Matthew Goode and Charlie Cox could benefit from the buzz for The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game. Martin Sheen is a veteran with no Oscar nods, if Trash is as beloved as most Stephen Daldry films, then he could be in the mix. Through in Chris Pine, John Lithgow, Ansel Elgort, the Gone Girl and Interstellar guys, and this race is really wide open. For me though, I am most intrigued by two performances not yet mentioned. First is Johnny Depp as the Wolf in Into the Woods. The Broadway role is juicy and after striking out several times in a row, Depp is due for a knock-out performance. I was initially going to go with Tom Wilkinson for Selma, a film I feel like could be a real hit. But then I saw that Tim Roth is going to play George Wallace, I immediately perked up. Roth is a talented actor who has not lived up to his potential. But George Wallace is the role of a lifetime, and I think if he nails it, he could be back on top.