Let’s take a look at the Best Actor nominees for 2014 and try to make a pick:
Best Actor Category
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
The 77 year old Dern will be a sentimental favorite for his portrayal of an old man suffering the effects of alcoholism and dementia, who thinks that he has won a million dollars in a sweepstake. It’s a fine piece of acting, but he is going against some real heavyweights this year and I don’t think there is enough here to win.
Chiwetel Ejiofor -12 Years a Slave
Ejiofor’s role as a free black man who is captured by slave traders and sent to a southern plantation is powerful stuff; so powerful that it is almost hard to watch. Ejiofor’s portrayal is top rate and I expect that he has a strong chance of winning. The Academy loves this type of subject matter and Ejiofor will be a top contender in this category.
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
McConaughey does an amazing job of transforming himself into Ron Woodroof, a homophobic rodeo lover who contracts HIV. McConaughey, who lost 50 pounds to play the role, is almost unrecognizable. But the weight loss alone does not make for great acting; his ornery, never say die portrayal, is great acting. McConaughey won the Golden Globe for Best Actor this year and might just pull a repeat at the Oscars.
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Hard to believe that DiCaprio has never won an Oscar for best actor with all the good roles that he has played; but his acting in “Wolf” just might get him into the exclusive club. DiCaprio’s over-the-top performance of a penny stock trader gone wild blew me away. The philandering, debauchery, and foul language may turn some people off, but this stuff is top rate. Strong contender.
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Christian Bale just keeps surprising me with his talent. After I viewed “The Fighter” I had thought that I had seen it all, but here he comes again playing a sleazy grifter in a payola scam that will have you rolling on floor (the comb-over hairstyle alone is enough to give you a heart attack). Bale is terrific and I would not be surprised if he won Best Actor.
My prediction: I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I predict DiCaprio will win his first Oscar for Best Actor.
Watch the Academy Awards March 2.