Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Steve Carell "Foxcatcher"
Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game"
Oscar Isaac "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Michael Keaton "Birdman"
Eddie Redmayne "The Theory of Everything"
Other Contenders - Bill Murray "St. Vincent", Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice", Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher", Bradley Cooper "American Sniper", Timothy Spall "Mr. Turner", Brad Pitt "Fury", David Oyelowo "Selma", Jack O'Connell "Unbroken", Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes", Ralph Fiennes "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Jake Gyllenhaal "Nightcrawler", Chadwick Boseman "Get on Up", Ben Affleck "Gone Girl", Philip Seymour Hoffman "A Most Wanted Man", Bill Hader "The Skeleton Twins", Ellar Coltrane "Boyhood", James Corden "Into the Woods", John Lithgow "Love is Strange", Miles Teller "Whiplash", Tommy Lee Jones "The Homesman", Matthew McConaughey "Interstellar", Gael Garcia Bernal "Rosewater"
Commentary - As always, this category is just plain brutal, and if even half of the unseen contenders pan out then it only gets tougher from here. Remember last year when Tom Hanks was a lock? With so many quality names and performances, there will be no guarantees. Michael Keaton emerged first from Venice with his stunning work in Birdman. He is a hardworking veteran who has never managed to earn an Oscar nomination over the course of his career. I think that he could easily survive the onslaught and finally get some recognition. Right after Birdman hit, there can the onslaught of the young British guys with Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne. Both are talented young actors with enough of a resume behind them to warrant some attention, both are playing real life people (which is always a plus in these races), and both are said to carry their films to their high level of Oscar buzz. Cumberbatch in particular is on a high after winning an Emmy this year, proving that the American entertainment industry is paying attention to his talent. Foxcatcher has lot a bit of buzz as new contenders continue to pile on, but I think that it will be one that bide its time and reemerge when the critics start announcing. The question is, which of the two, or both, will make the cut. I still think Tatum should go supporting, although in either race he will be a potent contender. But I do think that no matter how the race plays out that Steve Carell, going against type, coveting a new face, and bringing the bad, will be the one that is definite. These four are out in the lead, with a lot of names fighting for a fifth slot. Bill Murray returns to comedy, but plays an emotional comedy that could get him a second Oscar nod for St. Vincent. Bradley Cooper looks great in the American Sniper trailer, and he is now a two-time nominee. Timothy Spall is a veteran British actor with a lot of early buzz that hopes to hang on and survive the onslaught. Joaquin Phoenix sneaked into the race last time for Paul Thomas Anderson's last film The Master, whose to say he doesn't repeat? Brad Pitt and Jack O'Connell lead the two big historical war movies, and after The Butler, I know that David Oyelowo's portrayal of Martin Luther King could be something spectacular. A couple of young guys, Miles Teller, Ellar Coltrane, and Chadwick Boseman are all looking to make a splash. Christoph Waltz has yet to lose an Oscar race, Ralph Fiennes is due for some recognition, Philip Seymour Hoffman could get some posthumous love, Bill Hader could defy the odds, and Ben Affleck has yet to get an acting Oscar nomination. But in the final slot, I am going out on a limb for Oscar Isaac. He should have been in the mix for Inside Llewyn Davis, and I think that JC Chandor's A Most Violent Year could be an Oscar breakthrough. Of course, with this race, we truly have to wait and see...