First Guesses For Oscar Nominations – Actor in a Leading Role

After a late night of researching, and after watching an all manner of trailers I can’t help but feel excited for the next half of the year. The concept of certain films sound very interesting so it’ll be good to see how they turn out. But for the ones with trailers it makes things even more exciting, with the last months of the year proving to have some strong films being released. 

Interestingly it’s the films that are released towards the end of the year that are tipped for Oscar nominations, what with the ceremony being held in February of the following year. After watching certain trailers and doing some background research for certain films, I’ve managed to narrow down a list of people I think are going to be nominated for the category of Best Actor In a Leading Role. On the list I have seven actors who I believe could, or indeed should receive a nomination this year, and it’s based on the timing of which their film is released, how their performance looks initially from trailers, and the complexity of their characters. I’m not saying these will be the eventual nominees, they’re just hunches I’ve got. So without further ado I present you with the seven potential Oscar Nominees for Actor In a Leading Role. 

I. Forest Whitaker in ‘The Butler’ – I heard about this film earlier in the year and I have to admit it did sound very interesting but I had doubts as to how they would pull it off. After seeing the trailer for it I am filled with more optimism, it looks as though it is going to be quite an engaging film. The film is the true story about a butler called Cecil Gaines who served under eight presidents in the White House, with Whitaker playing the lead role. In the past I have been impressed by Whitaker’s performances, and I think he is going to handle the complexity of this character very well and could be one of his best roles yet.

II. Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Fifth Estate’ – After seeing the trailer, I am already blown back by how good Cumberbatch’s performance looks for this film. Playing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Cumberbatch not only looks the part but he talks and stands in the exact right way. His accent is damn near perfect so he sounds just like Assange, and the way he stands while talking to people is the spitting image of him too. From footage I have seen of Julian Asange it is almost scary how spot on Cumberbatch’s portrayal of him is. He hasn’t received a nomination from the Academy yet, but I feel as though this could easily be his year. 

III. Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ – In recent years we’ve seen DiCaprio working with Martin Scorcese more and more, but this film looks particularly interesting. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio) a young stockbroker who went from being rich and successful to eventually falling to greed and moving to a life based on crime and corruption. The film is said to be a black comedy, and from the trailer Leo does appear to be showing quite a complex character. He’s arrogant, loud, eccentric, but also charismatic and professional, creating quite a deep layered character. I thought it would be a bit like Jay Gatsby but it looks as though he’s taken the idea of a wealthy businessman to new heights. He’s been nominated before for various awards so hopefully the Academy will see his talents again this year. 

IV. Tom Hanks in ‘Saving Mr Banks’ – Already a favourite of the Academy and twice a winner under this category, this could very well be another good year for Hanks who is playing Walt Disney. The film is based around the writer of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, going to Hollywood to over see her book being adapted to film by the man himself. It may be a character that is a little less complex than that of roles he has fulfilled before, but I think Hanks will do a very good job of it and it could very well see his name mentioned at the Awards. From the trailer he definitely sounds like Walt Disney and seems to act in the same way most of imagined he would, so it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the film. 

V. Christian Bale in ‘Out Of The Furnace’ – It might be a bit of a long shot, but I think it’s still a possibility. The nature of the film looks as though it could go either one of two ways, one being a really hard hitting emotional film with depth, or the action side could take over too much and it could go the wrong way. But then there is always the possibility of the trailer overstating the action and film not living up to it, much like ‘Rampart’. However I still think that in either scenario Bale could be tipped for an Oscar, he’s already won an award for his supporting role in ‘The Fighter’ which he was very good in, so it could happen again. 

VI. Oscar Isaac in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ – This was always going to be a contender for me because of my love for the Coens. The film tells the story of a country singer trying to make his way around the music scene in the 1960s, Isaac plays the title character and already he looks very promising; delicate yet complex. The film is said to be based on Bob Dylan, however true this may be, I still have faith in the Coen Brothers writing. The characters they have written in the past have been both memorable and charming so it wouldn’t be a surprise for me if they have done the same here. I have a feeling that Issac’s acting may be over looked by the Academy because of other aspects of the film (as has happened to some actors in the past) but hopefully this won’t be the case. There have been some actors who have won awards for Coen Brothers films, such as Frances McDormand for ‘Fargo’ and Javier Bardem for ‘No Country For Old Men’, so fingers crossed there is a nomination heading towards the young actor.

VII. Chiwetel Ejiofor in ’12 Years A Slave’ – A second historical film that could easily sweep up quite a few awards this year but I think if there isn’t at least a nomination for the lead role then I would have to question the Academy’s decision making skills. It’s the true story of a free born black person during pre-civil war America who is abducted and sold into slavery. It looks set to be an emotionally intense film, there are some strong actors involved but none more so than the leading role. Having not seen much of the actor I was impressed from what I saw in the trailer, I am excited to see the overall performance and to see if it is as successful as I hope it will be. 

As I have said these are purely based on the research I’ve done and the timing of the films, these are the choices I think would be the most likely to be nominated. There is no doubting that I have left some out so I may have to revisit the topic later in the year and make some more accurate guesses. I think this year is going to be a very close year for actors, the competition is going to be tight so I’m looking forward to see what has been produced. At this time obviously I have no idea who could actually win it, it’s too soon to call it and it would be stupid of me to make a big judgement based on a trailer and research alone. In the coming weeks I may do some follow up posts based on other awards I feel there could be easy contenders for, so as always watch this space. 

Please feel free to leave any comments you have on the topic, I’d be interested to know how you feel about my choices, and please, I welcome any choices you feel could be on the list too. It would be very odd of me to turn down an opportunity to discuss film, so please leave any thoughts you have on the topic.