After seeing 12 Years a Slave there is one clear front-runner in the Best Actor category at this point and it’s Chiwetel Ejiofor, but to look down the list of contenders both seen an unseen is to understand there is a long way to go.
Matthew McConaughey is fantastic in Dallas Buyers Club and every bit deserving of a nomination and Forest Whitaker‘s work in Lee Daniels’ The Butler is one of the strongest elements of that film, keeping it in the Oscar conversation.
Before today’s update I had Robert Redford (All is Lost) at #1 and I also have Bruce Dern (Nebraska) to consider as the two elder statesman in the category, but at this point it feels like Redford is losing steam. After wowing audiences in Cannes, Roadside hasn’t done much with All is Lost and the Telluride screenings weren’t exactly met with overwhelming praise as other titles dominated the headlines.
It also seems Dern’s position in the Oscar race is questionable. Many have issues with him being pushed in the lead actor category, feeling his role is secondary to that of Will Forte‘s, which means both he and Redford are skating on thin ice with some strong contenders at their heels.
Based on what has been seen so far, Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) will remain part of the conversation until the last minute, Hugh Jackman is strong in Prisoners and, while he’ll need a lot of help, Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) isn’t out of the running.
However, the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) looms large, though the dark comedy nature of the film’s marketing has me doubting its overall chances, Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Ben Stiller (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Joaquin Phoenix (Her) are still unknowns at this point and could quickly climb into the race, leaving Dern and Redford in the dust, and perhaps even Whitaker.
For now, and I say this with the utmost of confidence, Ejiofor and McConaughey are your only locks at this point, but those final three slots will be highly sought and I’m sure this game is going to get nasty before all is said and done.
That said, here’s my top five for now and you can view my complete list of 29 ranked contenders right here.