Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
Carell proved that he’s not just a comedic actor with his performance in “Foxcatcher.” It was difficult to realize it was actually him in the film. Had I not know going into it, I may have not guessed. That’s the sign of a great performance.
Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
This guy is on top of his game right now with three straight Oscar nominations. Who would have thought Sack from “Wedding Crashers” would ever rise to this level of stardom?
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Cumberbatch is a star who I feel like has been considered for every role for every movie that will come out in the next five years. He proved that the attention he receives is warranted with his spectacular performance in “The Imitation Game.”
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Keaton is a very good actor who hasn’t been in the greatest films of late. I do love him in “Need for Speed,” “The Other Guys” and “Toy Story 3,” but it’s nice to see him get this opportunity to regain his acclaim. To his credit, Keaton didn’t waste that chance.
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Sooo this guy can act. I had never heard of Redmayne and unfortunately for him the only other movie I know him from is “Jupiter Ascending.” Redmayne absolutely nailed the role of Stephen Hawking and made it believable. I mean he portrayed the deterioration of a man who has ALS. His performance was absolutely phenomenal.
In an absolutely stacked field of leading actors in 2014, there were bound to be some snubs. However, I believe the Academy did get it wrong. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and David Oyelowo (Selma) deserved nominations over Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper. That being said, that was not the hand we were dealt.
I believe Channing Tatum was the best part of “Foxcatcher” and not Carell. And although very solid, Cooper’s performance was a step down from the other nominees. Sorry guys…you’re out.
This is getting old but I will say the same thing about Keaton’s performance that I said about the other “Birdman” nominees. Keaton was great, but so were the 10 other actors in the film. I may be one of the few to say this, but I don’t believe Keaton carried “Birdman.” What I will continue to say is that the Oscars should have a best ensemble cast category. If that were the case, “Birdman” would earn the award by a landslide. Until that time I will have to bore you with another basketball reference. Even Lebron James needed Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and this movie had about seven Wades and Boshes. Sorry Michael…you’re out.
This now comes down to a battle between two men who have played Stephen Hawking in their careers.
I will go on record saying that I will be rooting for Cumberbatch come Sunday night. He is one of my favorite actors today. With this role, he proved that he has Oscar-winning potential. He portrayed the progression of Alan Turing and the mystery around his character so well. I’ll never forget the scene at the end of this movie that kept me crying through the credits. He was so believable that I felt like I was in the room with him. I will remember his performance in this movie forever, because it truly affected me on an emotional level. However, Cumberbatch said it himself. It’s Eddie’s year. Sorry Benedict…you’re out. But he won’t be a Dr. Strange…r to this awards show in the future. Ok that pun was a bit of a stretch.
WINNER: Eddie Redmayne
I could only reiterate that he plays a guy with ALS. Not only that, Redmayne shows Hawking’s degression as he contracts the disease. It’s really the performance that stands out from the rest. Playing a role like that could go horribly wrong too, but Redmayne took the risk and nailed the performance. He had to put so much into his portrayal, including getting the voice down, working on his facial expressions and perfecting the believability of his body breaking down. I’ve got to give it to him. Congratulations Eddie…the Oscar for Best Actor goes to you.
Winner: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Dark Horse: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)