Unlike the Best Actress field, which is pretty damned boring and uninspiring this year, the Best Actor race is not only tight, but a healthy mix of veterans and those making their first real push for gold. We can probably count on Tom Hanks sailing in for Captain Phillips, along with Robert Redford for All is Lost, assuming his momentum holds up. Chiwetel Ejiofor seems like a lock for 12 Years a Slave, while Matthew McConaughey and Bruce Dern have the inside track for the final two spots. What do they have to worry about? Leonardo DiCaprio may slip in now that everybody has finally seen what he does in The Wolf of Wall Street, and maybe Christian Bale and his hairpiece can get in for American Hustle.
As usual, though, there are a ton of actors who are on the outside looking in with no shot at anything, whether it's as Best Actor or in the Best Supporting field. And this year it was especially tough just trying to limit my choices to fifteen. So I had to be especially strict not to include anybody who is even remotely in the awards discussion, which unfortunately meant keeping out James Franco for Spring Breakers. Believe it or not he and his gold grills and cornrows have been getting a little bit of a push, so he's off the list. But is anybody talking about Isaiah Washington for his magnetic, deeply troubling performance as John Allen Muhammad in Blue Caprice? Gael Garcia Bernal was the face an entire movement in the Chilean political drama, No, but lack of awareness and the early release date have left him forgotten. Plus it was nominated last year for Best Foreign Film, so people are probably just over it by now. Miles Teller and Ben Foster turned up the heat in The Spectacular Now and Ain't Them Bodies Saints respectively, while Simon Pegg has never been forced to act with more nuance than he does in The World's End. Sam Rockwell quietly had one of the best years of his career with A Single Shot and The Way Way Back, two movies that couldn't be more different, while nobody was more charismatic than Riz Ahmed The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Dwayne Johnson went dramatic in Snitch but it was his coke and 'roided up performance in Pain & Gain that was the real showstopper, and it's sort of sad that Joaquin Phoenix is being passed over for Spike Jonze's Her. Nobody else spent more time alone on screen while carrying the emotional and physical burden of a romantic couple.
So here we go. Feel free to leave a comment or email me with your thoughts, criticisms, second opinions, whatever. And be sure to check out all of my end-of-the-year coverage right here on Examiner.
Skylan Brooks- The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
Dwayne Johnson- Pain & Gain
Simon Pegg- The World's End
Jake Gyllenhaal- Prisoners
Sam Rockwell- A Single Shot & The Way Way Back
Dennis Quaid- At Any Price
John Gallagher Jr.- Short Term 12
Ali Mosaffa- The Past
Ben Foster- Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Mads Mikkelsen- The Hunt
Riz Ahmed- The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Miles Teller- The Spectacular Now
Gael Garcia Bernal- No
Isaiah Washington- Blue Caprice
Joaquin Phoenix- Her