The State of the Oscars: Best Actor (The Winners)

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The Oscars are in 10 days, so that means I am going to roll out my list of Oscar predictions. I wait until the last minute because I am not content to judge until all the major precursors have gone by. Golden Globes, SAG, BFCA and BAFTA usually can tell me a lot about who is going to win, and for some categories they did, and with others they left me totally flummoxed, confusing me even further – so here we go with Best Actor in a Leading Role

 THE NOMINEES:

  • Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern as Woody Grant in Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club

There are two ways to do predictions for the Academy Awards. The first and most risky is to just call it straight-up and say that person is going to win without a shadow of a doubt, but such predictions only really work when a certain Daniel Day-Lewis is in the race. The more common method is to start dispelling the nominees one by one and saying why they WON’T win until you get to one who you think has the least working against them. Of course with this race, we’re going to go with the latter method.

Christian Bale is definitely out of this. Lackluster performance in a film that is getting major backlash. He is also the only past winner in the bunch, which I think may work against him. So he can prepare to have a good night out on March 2nd, knowing he won’t win.

Then it gets difficult…

Each of the four remaining men could take this award, each pretty much having an equal chance, but not an equal chance. It is very confusing to try and get it straight, but we have a frontrunner and we don’t have a frontrunner. So let me try and predict this thing:

Bruce Dern is such a sweet old chap, it would be so nostalgic and satisfying to see him prevail on Oscar night. He hasn’t won any televised awards, or any major precursor except one – Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. But this impressive achievement comes with a curse – in the 67 year old history of the festival, only five Best Actor winners have prevailed at the Oscars as well. I don’t think Dern will win, as much as I’d like him to. Remember, the man is 77 – how many more chances are there for him to be nominated again? His career could either go back into obscurity, or he could have a Christopher Plummer-type career where he, in a few years, gets the right role and wins EVERYTHING (and with his rumored upcoming work with Quentin Tarantino, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter). So maybe you can pull an Art Carney, Bruce, but for now you’re jus the Richard Farnsworth of this race.

Chiwetel Ejiofor gave an average performance in a good film. He quite rightly hasn’t won any major televised awards apart from the BAFTA, not because I dislike him, but rather because I don’t think he gave an Oscar-worthy performance. However, if voters are inclined to give Dallas Buyers Club a win in Supporting Actor, and American Hustle in Supporting Actress, they might just want to throw a bone for Ejiofor to justify a Best Picture win. His win wouldn’t be the worst in history, but it will be a painfully uninteresting one.

Now we come to the top two, which really hurts me and offends me because it is so difficult to judge.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives the performance of his life in The Wolf of Wall Street, and in a perfect world this blend of comedy, drama, good and evil will prevail in a landslide. But he doesn’t have much precursor support – no SAG nomination, loss at BAFTA and only a Golden Globe. I still am picking him for the upset, but I think at this point wishing for a DiCaprio win is pretty much pipe dreaming. I will stick with Leo until the envelope is read, and hope that his name is called.

Finally, Matthew McConaughey. He is pretty close to being a frontrunner and if he wins it will be a reward for his career turnaround that has blown cinema audiences away. It will be a nice change from the stuffy actors and new, unknowns winning. This guy has been in the game for two decades, and we all know him, and to see him be awarded for actually making an effort and showing off how good he is will be a nice change of pace.

So here are my predictions (with a percentage score of their chances to win)

  • Matthew McConaughey: 36%
  • Leonardo DiCaprio: 28%
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor: 20%
  • Bruce Dern: 15%
  • Christian Bale: 1%

So this award will definitely be one to watch out for, and I hope we can get a surprise win here.

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