Who Should Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
AIDS victim fighting to obtain medication for himself and eventually the whole country. Yes it’s total Oscar bait, but Mr. McConaughey brings a genuine character along with his 47 pound weight loss. (Ironically this year Christian Bale gained weight.)
His Ron Woodroof his a homophobic, drug addicted, alcoholic hick and by film’s end, he isn’t necessarily a different person, but Mr. McConaughey shows us a subtle flicker of generosity trying to break through the surface.
There’s also a relaxed, charming scene in a fine dining restaurant where he compliments a waiter on bringing the right bottle of “grape juice.” It’s a small moment as the emaciated-looking character is having one of his better nights and it just shows how natural Woodroof has become to the actor.
Factor in Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street and boom—this dude had a pretty good year. And on top of all that, Mr. McConaughey has never won an Oscar.
On Everyone Else…
Chiwetel Ejiofor: As the free slave who finds himself back in captivity in 12 Years a Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor is actually my second favorite performance of the year. It was a close one for me (between Mr. McConaughey), but I just have a feeling Mr. Ejiofor will get a few more chances to show off his talents. Still, that long shot of him hanging from a noose is one of the most haunting, frightening, and yet, beautiful scenes of the year.
Christian Bale: My third favorite performance this year. For any other actor, being an overweight 70s hustler under a bad hair weave would be a challenge, but this is Christian Bale we’re talking about. We’re almost to the point of taking his physical transformations for granted, but somehow, it just feels Mr. Bale barely broke a sweat hamming it up as this epic larger-than-life (literally) character in American Hustle. In some ways, maybe the hardest part Mr. Bale ever had to play was actually Bruce Wayne. As that orphaned hero, without the mask, he had nowhere to hide.
Bruce Dern: Umm… No. Just no. (But watch, the voters are gonna pull some Lifetime Achievement thing and I’ll just be screaming at the TV. Nebraska and Philomena would have been network TV movies of the week in the 80s.)
Let’s instead remember some other more worthy male performances from 2013.
Michael B. Jordan as the ambitious but doomed train passenger in Fruitvale Station. Robert Redford as a practically wordless boatsman in All is Lost. Oscar Isaac as the jerkish and melancholy folk musician in Inside Llewyn Davis. Jaden Smith as the young, knee-taking jungle warrior in After Earth.
Okay, just kidding about one of those, but still… You get my point. All were arguably more memorable performances than Bruce Dern. #sorrynotsorry
Who Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Unfortunately, Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar either.
The biggest problem with this performance is that you get the feeling you are watching Mr. DiCaprio just simply having a good time being Mr. DiCaprio. Throwing money around, dropping f-bombs, oof-ing models, and snorting copious amounts of coke? Frankly, that’s what we always thought of him before The Bieber came around to take all the illicit attention away. It just doesn’t feel that much of a stretch and there’s a bunch of young actors out there who could probably have pulled off the same performance.
If anything, Mr. DiCaprio should have gotten the nomination for The Great Gatsby, a movie that cannily took the notion of being Leo and turned it on his slicked back head.
But with his three previous nominations and his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese, Academy voters might feel it’s time to give in.
What are your thoughts on our predictions? Give us your thoughts on the Best Actor category in the comments.