A thin Supporting Actor race looks to be on our hands which could have Robert Duvall score his first nomination since 1999 for “A Civil Action.” The early word on Miyavi is very positive in “Unbroken” and could ride with the success of the film. Josh Brolin would be a fantastic citation but that could more of a wish than a possibility. Still waiting on “Selma” reviews for Tom Wilkinson and/or Tim Roth.
AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE
1. J.K. Simmons
FOR HIM: A veteran who is said to deliver one of his best turns yet. In a category that loves to reward vets, he may be a near shoo-in..
AGAINST HIM: There's still no telling if the Sundance buzz will translate to all of the U.S.. This could be a smaller film which leaves him out.
2. Edward Norton
FOR HIM: Two nominations under his belt and he hasn't been in the hunt in over fifteen years. If co-star Michael Keaton is as great as we think he may be, he could pull someone like Norton in for the ride.
AGAINST HIM: How big is his part?
3. Mark Ruffalo
FOR HIM: Previous nominee for "The Kids are All Right." Has another praised performance in "Begin Again." Was said to be a true standout in Cannes.
AGAINST HIM: There's still a chance that Steve Carell joins him in a Supporting bid which may steal a lot of votes.
FOR HIM: The villain role in a Best Picture contender could get many talking. Early word is strong for him.
AGAINST HIM: It's no secret that AMPAS isn't friendly to the Asian actors. They'll need to really love him.
5. Robert Duvall
FOR HIM: Despite the reception out of Toronto, Duvall's performance was hailed Warner Bros. backing helps.
AGAINST HIM: It's hard for anyone to survive THOSE reviews, no matter how much they liked the performance.
THE NEXT FIVE CONTENDERS
6. Ethan Hawke
FOR HIM: An outstanding actor that has shined (and been ignored) in films like "Before Midnight" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." In "Boyhood" he hits another remarkable stride and could get pulled in with a massive lovefest.
AGAINST HIM: The buzz surrounds Linkleter and Arquette mostly. His champions (for the moment) are pretty silent.
7. Josh Brolin
FOR HIM: Was semi-good in "Labor Day" and is looking for his second nomination following "Milk." If this Anderson film is a big player, someone could get swept in.
AGAINST HIM: Internal competition and mixed reviews for the film.
8. Tim Roth
FOR HIM: Former Oscar nominee for "Rob Roy." Plays George Wallace, a pretty ruthless historical figure. Could be one to watch.
AGAINST HIM: It's co-lead-ish. May not buy it here.
9. Alec Baldwin
FOR HIM: Previous nominee for "The Cooler." Husband of Julianne Moore's character could yield some sympathy.
AGAINST HIM: He's popular with the Emmys and SAG but hasn't been in the hunt since his nomination.
10. Logan Lerman
FOR HIM: Trailer showed that he could be a standout. After being completely ignored for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," this could be an entry way for him. Maybe this generation's Timothy Hutton?
AGAINST HIM: It's hard to standout in war films with this many male players. Look at people like Nick Nolte, Tom Sizemore, etc.
OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS
11. Domnhall Gleeson
FOR HIM: Has a lot of the tricks that warrant Oscar attention like massive weight loss. Early word is very positive.
AGAINST HIM: Rather unknown and has internal competition.
12. John Goodman
FOR HIM: Veteran actor that has yet to score with the Academy despite being in two Best Picture winners recently. There's buzz for his work in Wyatt's film.
AGAINST HIM: He always looks like a possibility before he's not anymore. One can only hope for him.
13. Christoph Waltz*
Two-time Supporting Actor winner pushed by Harvey Weinstein.
14. Andy Serkis
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Though this is category fraud, FOX may feel compelled to do something to finally get him a long overdue nomination.
15. Charles Dance
The Imitation Game
Veteran actor that could get swept in with a Best Picture frontrunner.
16. Tom Wilkinson
Playing Lyndon B. Johnson. Baity role.
17. Dominic West
Thomas McCarthy often gets very special things from his actors. His miss for "Ghost World" still remains inexcusable.
18. Chris Pine
Into the Woods
Is a movie star in a very different type of role. Could surprise.
19. Charlie Cox
The Theory of Everything
Is role is sympathetic and he's fantastic in it. IF the film is a big player for Best Picture, he could get carried in.
20. Matt Damon
Brief but very memorable. A different type of performance than he's given before.
Clayton Davis started to write professionally in his sophomore year of college when Johnny Alba, the editor and owner of the old Oscar prediction site, The Oscar Igloo, had an opening for staff writers. Clayton wrote for The Igloo for nearly four years before being appointed editor and revamping and renaming The Oscar Igloo into the now popular mega-site, The Awards Circuit. Since then, Clayton has become a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to awards season show, The Critics Choice Awards. Most recently, Clayton is a now an active member of the International Press Academy, which hosts the popular Satellite Awards as well as the newly integrated Broadcast Television Journalists Association, which hosts the Critics Choice Television Awards. In June 2014 he became the year's first accepted member to New York Film Critics Online. He has been quoted in various outlets (CNN.com, Bloomberg.com, TheWrap.com, AceShowbiz.com, SlashFilm.com, ScottFeinberg.com) and continues to raise the bar for film-talking enthusiasts around the globe.