This is a big weekend for Oscar watchers. Four films are opening, and each showcases a best-actor contender.
Tom Hanks is already bruited as a favorite for “Captain Phillips,” but he could be going head-to-head in a sea battle with Robert Redford in “All Is Lost.” The other serious front-runner is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who’s in virtually every frame of “12 Years a Slave” and getting loving praise for his work.
Also notable are Daniel Radcliffe in a career-changing performance in “Kill Your Darlings” (which opened Wednesday) and Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s a better Julian Assange than the real Assange in “The Fifth Estate.”
That’s five possibilities right there for Oscar’s best-actor slots, though it’s unlikely those will be the final five. Other upcoming performances that have been getting high praise: Bruce Dern in “Nebraska,” Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” (which bows Nov. 1), Joaquin Phoenix in “Her,” Idris Elba in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and Ben Stiller in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
Other possibilities include Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle,” Matt Damon in “The Monuments Men” and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Wolf of Wall Street,” though few have seen those films.
Even before this week, the category was overflowing, thanks to performances in films that have already opened, including Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station,” Forrest Whitaker in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Hugh Jackman in “Prisoners.”