Our expert guess on which leading man will bag an award
Who will win? The more you think about it, the more it makes sense that Matthew McConaughey’s performance as prejudiced redneck turned pharmaceutical campaigner Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club should be the natural frontrunner. McConaughey is an industry favourite, a matinee star who has climbed the ranks from indie obscurity to mainstream slush to ‘proper’ acting roles. And the film itself is unlikely to get much love elsewhere, so Academy voters looking to spread their votes around could very well seize on its one truly outstanding characteristic.
Who else is nominated? British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a remarkably still, thoughtful turn as a man sold into slavery in 12 Years a Slave. But we do worry that his performance is a little too remote and unflashy, and that his name isn't quite big enough – or indeed pronounceable enough – to woo those fusty old voters.
Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street has almost precisely the opposite problem: he’s hugely well known, but his turn as crooked banker Jordan Belfort may prove too outrageous to charm the more conservative voters.
So the obvious second choice has to be Bruce Dern for Nebraska. He’s an acting legend who has spent far too long in unworthy roles, and his turn here as a befuddled elderly dad reconnecting with his son on a road trip has all the wit, warmth and insight the Academy loves.
Filling out the shortlist is Christian Bale in American Hustle, the male equivalent of Meryl Streep’s Best Actress nomination. It’s a kneejerk nod for an actor many voters admire, even if his work this time around isn’t exactly earth-shattering.