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Best actor power rankings: Late surges cause shifts in race

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As 2013 was coming to a close, Chiwetel Ejiofor looked to be in the driver’s seat for best actor. My how a month can change things. Snubs of Tom Hanks and Robert Redford brought Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio into the fold with Ejiofor, Matthew McConaughey and Bruce Dern. But with a month left before the big night, who has the edge now? Check out the list to find out.

1. Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
1. Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club

1. Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club

He’s been my number one pick for best actor this year since the summer, and while it looked shaky at times, Matthew McConaughey has stormed to the front of the pack in the crowded field of actor contenders. Ejiofor and Dern dominated the critics’ circuit, but McConaughey won when it truly mattered. Starting off with a Golden Globe win, McConaughey followed with the SAG for best actor. With no major awards left, this is his to lose.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street Paramount Pictures

2. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street

Despite being what many were calling his best performance, a lot of people weren’t sure Leonardo DiCaprio would make it in to the field of five for best actor due to its depth. Once he did, however, he became an instant threat to win the prize. Public opinion has been loud and clear that Leo deserves an Oscar, and the Academy would not be wrong to give it to him here. If anyone is likely to beat out McConaughey it’s DiCaprio.

3. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave Fox Searchlight Pictures

3. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s powerful performance in “12 Years a Slave” is truly something to behold, and on performance alone he may be the best option, but the Oscars rarely are limited to simply what was the best performance. Ejiofor is still a relatively new leading man, and against well-established and well-liked competitors, he very well may be passed over for that. Should “12 Years a Slave” end up sweeping the night he could get caught in the wave, but at this point it seems unlikely.

4. Bruce Dern - Nebraska
4. Bruce Dern - Nebraska Paramount Pictures

4. Bruce Dern - Nebraska

To say Bruce Dern is an also ran really hurts because the veteran character actor finally got his time in the sun with “Nebraska” and he absolutely killed it. Nothing’s impossible and sentiment may be there for Dern, but this figures to be the case where the Academy’s reward is in the form of a nomination and not that little golden man.

5. Christian Bale - American Hustle
5. Christian Bale - American Hustle Columbia Pictures

5. Christian Bale - American Hustle

The biggest surprise in best actor on nomination morning was Christian Bale giving “American Hustle” a spot in all four major acting categories. Bale was thought to be on the outside looking in but overwhelming support for the film help to push his stellar performance as the con man with the plan past other presumed nominees. Still, consensus would say he is the fourth best performance in his film (though that is saying something) and that won’t cut it in this crop.


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