It's time now to round up the lead acting contenders, wherein as usual, the Best Actor category is totally overstuffed with worthy candidates while Best Actress can barely scrape together five nominees. Sad, but it's the same thing every year now, unfortunately.
This race is stacked to the masses this year, with all kinds of great performances from actors. Still, there are those who've hit all the precursor nominations, and with their films following suit as strong Best Picture candidates, it seems unlikely that Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne would miss out here. After them, we have Jake Gyllenhaal, who landed a Globe, SAG, and BFCA nod for Nightcrawler, a movie that has been looking stronger and stronger by the day. I wasn't convinced that he could happen here until Nightcrawler started to really materialize in strength from the industry, which it did today by scoring an ACE Eddie nomination from the powerful editors guild. I now think Jake is in.
Steve Carell was once thought to be a surefire nomination for his creepy performance in Foxcatcher, and he does still have a chance, having also gotten Globe and SAG nods. But the movie did poorly at the box office and was also surprisingly ignored by most critics awards. It just doesn't look to be the kind of film that voters will embrace, as they tend to like their villains gleefully over the top rather than genuinely unsettling (see Gyllenhaal). David Oyelowo has gotten very strong reviews as MLK in Selma, and I tend to think he will also make the cut with AMPAS for the film, which is still thought to be a major player. But coming up on the outside very strong (and right as people are voting) is Bradley Cooper for American Sniper, a two-time nominee already and in a film that's surging at just the right moment (these can often lead to surprise nominees, like Christian Bale last year, swept in on the late-breaking love for American Hustle).
On the very fringes is still beloved British character actor Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner, but I think these other heavy hitters are just too much for him to overcome. It's hard to say who's going to get squeezed out here though- most of these guys have a lot going for them, and honestly, even though some think he's a possible winner, I could see Eddie Redmayne missing in a huge shock, because Theory of Everything isn't as strong a BP contender as some of the others.
- Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
- Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
- Michael Keaton, Birdman
- David Oyelowo, Selma
- Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
This is not set in stone. I desperately want to place Bradley Cooper in here somewhere, because I have a strong feeling he's going to get in, but I just don't know who he'd push out. Oyelowo? Redmayne? Gyllenhaal? Could even Keaton or Cumberbatch miss? Unlikely, but when you follow the strength of the BP nominees you tend to be right- so, if Cooper does make it I think it's more likely at the expense of Oyelowo or Gyllenhaal. It's also wide open for the win here- Keaton is the critics favorite, Redmayne delivers a Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot kind of performance (not as good, imo), and Cumberbatch is in a strong BP contender that's tearing up the box office right now. Too close to call.
This is much easier. There's been four locks all season long, and a search for who might make it into fifth place, not because there are so many options, but so few. The locks are Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike and Reese Witherspoon. That open slot is likely between Jennifer Aniston and Amy Adams, with only a fringe contender like Marion Cotillard as a remote possibility, after having been boosted by critics awards. But her film wasn't even shortlisted as a Foreign Language contender, so I don't think there's any way enough voters see Two Days, One Night (although, who knows- in a year like this she may manage it).
Aniston got Globe, SAG and BFCA nods based on a heavy publicity campaign and name recognition alone (no one has seen that movie either). Adams got a Globe nod and has Harvey Weinstein behind her film, which didn't do well at the box office- but she is a five time nominee and Academy favorite nonetheless. I don't know- I was blind to the Aniston thing for a long time, but she is popular and publicizing herself to no end...I guess I'll have to fall in line with it.
- Jennifer Aniston, Cake
- Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
- Julianne Moore, Still Alice
- Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
- Reese Witherspoon, Wild
That's probably the lineup. Julianne Moore has been locked in for the win for quite some time, but there is zero enthusiasm for the film or her performance. It's an overdue career award only, which would normally leave room for an upset and if there was anyone in this lineup who had a passion vote behind them, they'd win. But I don't know who that is among this group of actresses, except, I hate to say it but...Aniston? The campaigning is out of control for her- if she gets in, she's going for the win, and hard. As insane as it sounds, in a year this weak, it's a very real (and very scary) possibility. Come back tomorrow for the Best Picture/Best Director roundup.