Well, just like that Robert Duvall fell from #6 to #31 and then back up to #10. That’s what a poor showing at Toronto will do to you but he’s not necessarily out of the question. Also, what looks like a weak Supporting Actor field. They love their veterans and he hasn’t been nominated since “The Apostle.” The category is still very unclear outside J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”), Edward Norton (“Birdman”), and Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”). There are so many potential possibilities. My money is starting to gravitate towards Tim Roth as George Wallace in “Selma.” A real person portrayal could help him score his second Oscar nomination since “Rob Roy.” “Inherent Vice” has a plethora of cast members and Josh Brolin is said to be someone to watch.
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
THE NEXT FIVE CONTENDERS
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Domhnall 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS
11. John Lithgow
Love is Strange
Outstanding performance that straddles the line of co-lead, which helps in Supporting.
12. Takamasa Ishiara
This villain role is said to be a standout. If they love the film, he could get pulled in.
13. Danny Huston
He was heavy in the trailer. How big is the part?
14. Dean Norris
Men, Women & Children
Got some of the standout notices from TIFF and has one of the most sympathetic roles in the film.
15. Albert Brooks
A Most Violent Year
Because that "Drive" snub still stings for some.
16. Tom Wilkinson
Playing Lyndon B. Johnson. Baity role.
17. Ansel Elgort
Men, Women & Children
Plays a character that tugs at the heartstrings. For me, he's the true standout.
18. James Gandolfini
Another posthumous possibility.
19. Dominic West
Thomas McCarthy often gets very special things from his actors. His miss for "Ghost World" still remains inexcusable.
20. Joel Edgerton
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Surprisingly did not look terrible in the trailer. That's all we can say for now.
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.