Last year’s Best Actor Oscar race was over before it started. Although the other nominees gave acclaimed performances, everyone knew that Daniel Day-Lewis was going to walk away with the Oscar for Lincoln. At first, this year’s award seemed like another easy one, with 12 Years A Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor getting near unanimous acclaim. But as more films have come out, it’s clear that we have a race for Best Actor this year.
So, let’s start looking at some of the frontrunners for this year’s race. You can check out my list of potential Best Actress nominees here.
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
Ejiofor is still a front runner, even though it is now obvious that it will not be a runaway race. He has picked up nominations at both the SAG Awards and Golden Globes though. If he can win both of those, then it’ll be obvious that he could win the Oscar as well. A nomination at least is guaranteed. His performance is heartbreaking and inspiring and without that, the movie would not be as great as it is.
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Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
DiCaprio has surprisingly not won an Oscar yet, and that’s partly because he has rotten luck in the years that he’s been nominated. He hasn’t been nominated since 2006’s Blood Diamond and he lost that award to Forest Whitaker, who is also in the running this year. If Ejiofor wasn’t such a strong candidate, I’d suspect that this would finally be DiCaprio’s year. His performance as Jordan Belfort is easily the best he’s given for Martin Scorsese and likely the best of his career.
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Forest Whitaker – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Speaking of Whitaker, he is in the running for The Butler, in which he stars as the title character, who served in the White House for over 50 years. The film had strong awards potential, but then hit a snag when he didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination. Still, he was nominated for a SAG Award, so clearly actors like his performance.
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Robert Redford – All Is Lost
It’s amazing that Redford has never won for acting – his Oscar came for directing 1980’s Ordinary People. He also won an honorary award in 2002. However, he hasn’t been up for a competitive acting Oscar since 1972’s The Sting. He earned acclaim for his performance in All Is Lost and is the only actor in the movie. It might just finally be his time to win Best Actor.
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Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
It’s been nearly 20 years since Forrest Gump and over a decade since Hanks was nominated for Cast Away. He earned positive marks for playing Captain Phillips and should at least get nominated.
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Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
There’s an outside chance that Isaac will get a nod for the latest Coen Brothers film, in which he plays a 1960s folk singer. Isaac has been in supporting parts for years, so a Best Actor nod would be a significant boost for his career.
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Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
McConaughey has never even been nominated in his long career and this would be a perfect opportunity for him to win. He plays Ronald Woodroof, a man diagnosed with AIDS and decides to smuggle in drugs to help other patients.
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The top two outside contenders I can think of are Idris Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and Christian Bale for American Hustle. Bruce Dern has also won rave reviews for Nebraska.
top image: Tim P. Whitby/Getty/image.net