The State of the Oscars…Best Actor

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There is no greater acting award in Hollywood as a Best Actor or Actress Academy Award. Sure, the Supporting awards are also very prestigious, but a leading Oscar implies you carried a film with a brilliant performance. This year, we have a great set of potential nominees. Here are my top ten choices for Best Actor:

  1. Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club
  2. Bruce Dern as Woody Grant in Nebraska
  3. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Tom Hanks as Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips
  6. Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly in Her
  7. Robert Redford as Our Man in All Is Lost
  8. Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis in Inside Llewyn Davis
  9. Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle
  10. Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

As always, the top five are my predictions for the Oscar nominations for Best Actor. Here is an analysis of each of them:

Matthew McConaughey
Talk about a career turn-around. McConaughey has matured wonderfully as an actor, and Dallas Buyers Club finds him in his best form. It is a fantastic performance, and one that could win him Best Actor – yes, the man who made Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past could win the same award as Laurence Olivier, Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman. And that’s wonderful.

Bruce Dern
In a world where his contemporaries such as Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson and Jon Voight became iconic actors and treasures of American cinema, Bruce Dern never really took off. He has always been painfully underrated – up until Alexander Payne worked his magic and gave Dern the role of a lifetime. Nebraska is the perfect showcase for the great actor that is Bruce Dern. He could end up winning this award, and there wouldn’t be a more deserving winner.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
The AMPAS has always loved biopics and films about slavery. 12 Years a Slave is the ultimate slavery film – it is brutal, beautifully made and painfully true. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the anchor of the film, and he could follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Forest Whitaker and Sean Penn in winning Best Actor for playing important, real-life figures. I would support a win for Ejiofor, but I’d prefer a Dern or McConaughey win.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Many people are quick to call the 38-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio “overdue” for an Oscar. They are right. The man has put in so many amazing performances, but yet is unawarded. The Wolf of Wall Street seems like a knockout winner for Best Actor (it’s Martin Scorsese, dammit!). However, the films is very divisive, and Leo could end up being snubbed once again. But I hope he squeezes in and wins this thing…

Tom Hanks
The most trusted actor in America has made his comeback (of sorts – was he ever really away?) with the fantastic film Captain Phillips. He could get his first Oscar nomination in 14 years for his amazing performance as Richard Phillips. I doubt he is going to win Best Actor for this (after all, he is overshadowed by Barkhad Abdi). But he would be a deserving nominee, and that final scene was acting in its finest form.

Note: Notice how four of the five actors play real-life people? Oscar LOVES people playing real people (since 1997, at least one of the acting winners each year has won for playing a real person) – so with Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto locks for Best Actress and Best Supp. Actor, this seems like the most likely place to award a real-life character. 

I am unsure who is going to win this, but for now I’m putting my support behind McConaughey, with a spoiler in Dern. 

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