Oscar Predictions: EW's Prize Fighter on who is rising and falling

Chewetel-Ejiofor.jpg

Image Credit: Francois Duhamel

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BEST ACTOR

I’ve said it before: this is 2013′s toughest category.

This week, the one thing I’ve heard over and over again is, “Leo is a lock.” People are raving about his work in The Wolf of Wall Street, and this could be the one that finally wins him an Oscar after three previous nominations.

The field is full of such strong contenders that there is no single frontrunner. Chiwetel Ejiofor has been the slight favorite for his stoic resilience in 12 Years a Slave. Leo and Chewy (as he’s known) are likely to go head-to-head, with Bruce Dern as a possible sleeper for Nebraska. That guy has been at every single screening of the movie, and has the love and respect of many veteran Academy members who are thrilled to recognize the longtime character actor for his impressive work in this film.

The big question is who falls off? Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips is on the bubble, and voters are still wrapping their heads around Christian Bale’s outrageous, balding, bloated grifter in American Hustle.

The ones facing the biggest risk are Robert Redford for his largely silent, solo turn in All Is Lost. He has been absent from the campaign scene, which has created a sense of aloofness. Matthew McConaughey has a lot of admiration for dropping weight to become a living skeleton in Dallas Buyers Club, smuggling experimental drugs to stay alive. Most years, that would be enough to guarantee a nomination, but in a field this tough that kind of sacrifice for the craft may not be enough. Think of John Hawkes last year for The Surrogate, a nod he came close to getting before falling just short.

I wouldn’t count him out. It could easily be Hanks who is snubbed instead. The Screen Actors Guild nominations will clarify a lot.

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
4. Christian Bale, American Hustle
5. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
6. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
7. Robert Redford, All Is Lost
8. Joaquin Phoenix, Her

NEXT PAGE: BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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