Actor_ContendersAs pundits and fans of the awards season, we are constantly looking back to past races to see the similarities, and try to predict the possible outcome.  Last year, many of us said the Best Picture race resembled the 2000 race (“Gladiator” vs. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” vs. “Traffic”).    This year, don’t be surprised to see the comparisons come pouring in.

Nathaniel Rogers of The Film Experience has astutely compared Eddie Redmayne‘s towering work in “The Theory of Everything” to Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot.”  Kris Tapley of HitFix talked about Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” and how it compares to last year’s winner of seven Oscars, “Gravity.”  Both are worth the read.

I’ve gone on record on the weekly podcasts regarding Benedict Cumberbatch‘s work in “The Imitation Game” resembling both Colin Firth in “A Single Man” and “The King’s Speech.”  The question is, which one of those will he mimic this year?  Michael Keaton‘s comeback story  for “Birdman” closely resembles that of Mickey Rourke’s run to the podium for “The Wrestler” in 2008.  Though Keaton never had a troubled past in Hollywood, the word around the beat is “welcome back Mr. Keaton, we’ve missed you.”  You could even make the argument he looks like several nominees from the past that include David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty”), or Gary Oldman (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy“).  I’ve heard those names from a few people around the beat (not saying I agree with any of them).  Steve Carell‘s work in “Foxcatcher” has generated slight comparisons to Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning work in “The Silence of the Lambs.”  He’ll be doing battle with co-star Channing Tatum, who has an authentic, invigorating performance that has a strong chance to be overlooked this year.

The New York Film Critics Circle will be the first group to announce this year on Monday, December 1.  The National Board of Review will bounce back with their selections on December 2 before Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Online weigh in on Sunday, December 7.  During this time, SAG ballots will be in voters hands.  They go out on Wednesday, November 19 and are due back Monday, December 8.  Those will have the greatest impact on voters I’m sure.

Best Actor is just a plethora of talent at the moment, with a few contenders to weigh in soon.  Did you know that since 1990, only three Best Actor winners of NYFCC have missed out on an Oscar nomination (Robert Redford for “All is Lost,” Paul Giamatti for “Sideways,” and David Thewlis for “Naked.”)?  Seven of the last twenty-one years, their winner was the eventual Oscar winner.  I wonder who or what the group will gravitate towards.  Interesting thing about this year, there doesn’t seem to be a performance that seems like it will run the gauntlet.  Keaton feels like a New York Film Critics winner based on material and story.  In the same breath, Carell may find love.  We still haven’t seen Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”), David Oyelowo (“Selma”), Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”), Oscar Isaac (“A Most Violent Year”), and James Corden (“Into the Woods”).

In the mix of that week, Golden Globes will be announcing their nominations.  Splitting their categories into Drama and Musical/Comedy allows wiggle room for some contenders to get their feet up.  Musical/Comedy nominees tend to benefit the most.  Ralph Fiennes will probably be a sure fire nominee for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and if he somehow scored a surprise mention from something like LAFCA or NBR, Fox Searchlight would probably turn up the campaign for the two-time nominee.

There will be plenty of wildcards, and the tide can change very quickly around here.  AFI is set to kick off next for “A Most Violent Year” and “The Gambler,” while Academy screenings continue to happen weekly.  The awards season is gearing up to launch.  Got to load the gun.

Down below, read the predictions for the Best Actor categories at the Golden Globes, SAG, and New York Film Critics Circle (as of today).

GOLDEN GLOBES

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA)
Bradley Cooper – “American Sniper”
Steve Carell – “Foxcatcher”
Benedict Cumberbatch – “The Imitation Game”
Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything”
Timothy Spall – “Mr. Turner”

ALTERNATES:

  • Matthew McConaughey – “Interstellar”
  • Channing Tatum – “Foxcatcher”
  • Jack O’Connell – “Unbroken”

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL OR COMEDY)
Chadwick Boseman – “Get on Up”
Ralph Fiennes – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Michael Keaton – “Birdman”
Bill Murray – “St. Vincent”
Joaquin Phoenix – “Inherent Vice”

ALTERNATES:

  • Chris Rock – “Top Five”
  • James Corden – “Into the Woods”
  • Bill Hader – “The Skeleton Twins”

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Steve Carell as “John du Pont” – “Foxcatcher”
Benedict Cumberbatch as “Alan Turing”  – “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton as “Riggan Thomson” – “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne as “Stephen Hawking” – “The Theory of Everything”
Timothy Spall as “Joseph Mallord William Turner” – “Mr. Turner”

ALTERNATES:

  • David Oyelowo as “Dr. Martin Luther King” – “Selma”
  • Ralph Fiennes as “Monsieur Gustave H.” – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Oscar Isaac as “Abel Morales” – “A Most Violent Year”

NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE

PREDICTED WINNER: Michael Keaton – “Birdman”

IN THE RUNNING:

  • Steve Carell – “Foxcatcher”
  • Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything”
  • Miles Teller – “Whiplash”

Check out the latest Oscar Predictions including Best Actor!