2014 Oscar Nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Bruce Dern, at 77 years old, is the oldest contender in the category. His subliminal turn as Woody Grant, an elderly man who believes he was won a million dollars, in “Nebraska” is a masterful display of everything acting should be. Dern carries the weight of the film on his shoulders and plays the part with such determination and desperation that he helps hold the film together at its core.
Leonardo DiCaprio, a Hollywood favorite, received a nod for his role as Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio slipped into the scheming stockbrokers’ role so easily that his hijinks and antics seem so natural. Appearing in almost every scene of the three-hour film, he once again proves that he is an acting force to be reckoned with.
Christian Bale delivers another solid performance in David O. Russell’s newest film, “American Hustle.” Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con-man only slightly less slimy than DiCaprio’s character. His inclusion on the nomination list, however, is mostly likely due to the Academy’s love affair with Russell’s latest flick.
The real competition was initially between Chiwetel Ejiofor for his heart-breaking knock-out of a performance as Solomon Northup and Matthew McConaughey’s withering portrayal of a straight male slowly dying of AIDS at the end of the 1980s.
Both of these extraordinary actors deliver some of the best cinematic performances in years. Ejiofor goes through hell and back while McConaughey physically transformed himself by slimming down for the role. This kind of dedication is certainly deserving of a nomination, and both performances are so layered that it would take forever to dissect each artistic nuances.
More recently, however, DiCaprio has been climbing the ranks. Based on who receives the BAFTA award (McConaughey was not nominated, so this will be between Ejiofor and DiCaprio), this could easily be a race between two big Hollywood names.
Based on his recent Screen Actors Guild Award win, it looks like McConaughey is the frontrunner by just a hair, but do not count DiCaprio out just yet.
Who WILL Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Who SHOULD Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Additional reporting by Jake Burbage.