It’s hard to believe that going into the Toronto Film Festival I had Jared Leto ranked at #20 for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club and now he has shot up to the #1 position. But this is why we watch the movies and why it’s so much fun to offer up early predictions and see what surprises are in store.
That said, putting Leto at #1 was a little difficult as I have a hard time figuring out whether or not Michael Fassbender can woo the Academy with his portrayal of an evil slave owner in Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave. Fassbender has now given three nomination-worthy performances in McQueen’s films and while his work here may be his most distasteful, that’s pretty much the point of the character. I personally don’t think I could live with myself embodying such a deplorable human being, but I must also acknowledge Fassbender’s monstrous performance and its overall effectiveness. Can such a reviled character take home the hardware?
Behind those two I had a really hard time coming up with a top five.
Right now I’m sticking with Tom Hanks for his work in Saving Mr. Banks based on what I’ve heard from a few people that have seen it, but I pulled a switch-a-roo in the fourth and fifth positions, moving two performances I’ve seen into the top five over two I have not.
Those performances belong to Daniel Bruhl for his performance as Niki Lauda in Rush and Jake Gyllenhaal for his work in Prisoners. Both are noteworthy, though Bruhl definitely holds the edge and has the strongest chance of hanging onto a nomination.
Behind these two, however, I have Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) and John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis). Two of these no one has seen and the third is a hard one to nail down considering I’ve heard from some that think Goodman’s character could (and believe should) be written out of the film entirely, while others find it one of the more entertaining portions of the film. Personally I’m down-the-middle as I felt he was funny, but agree he didn’t add a lot to the narrative. If the Academy and future reviews, once Davis screens for critics at large, are as dismissive about the performance Goodman may very well fall out of the race completely.
All things considered, I have confidence that both Leto and Fassbender will each earn their first Oscar nominations this year and my current top five is as follows. You can browse my complete list of 27 ranked contenders right here.