Toronto: Oscar’s Best-Actor Race Has Doubled in Size

Best Actor Race

Many top perfs in addition to frontrunners Ejiofor, Hanks, McConaughey

Three cheers for the Golden Globes, which nominate 10 lead film actors, twice the number of most other kudos handouts. This year, when good work is abundant, it’s welcome news that the Globes’ two categories (drama and comedy/musical) offer recognition for 10 actors — or more, since there are sometimes ties in their voting.

By mid-August, there were already plenty of actor contenders: from Sundance, Daniel Radcliffe, “Kill Your Darlings” and Michael B. Jordan, ”Fruitvale Station”; from Cannes, Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”; Oscar Isaacs, “Inside Llewyn Davis” and Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”; and from wide releases, Chadwick Boseman, “42” and Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

That’s seven possibilities right there. In the past few weeks, Venice, Telluride and Toronto have doubled that number, with Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Fifth Estate”; Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”; Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”; Ralph Fiennes, “The Invisible Woman”; Chris Hemsworth, “Rush”; Hugh Jackman, “Prisoners”; and Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Plus, Tom Hanks is getting good buzz for “Captain Phillips” and for his upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks.”

The lead category might already be even more crowded. Josh Brolin (“Labor Day”), Steve Coogan (“Philomena”) and Jake Gyllenhaal (“Prisoners”) could be considered either leads or supporting. In theory, it seems like a good idea to tout them for the latter, because the lead actor race is so jam-packed. But in fact, the supporting competition is already fierce as well.

The supporting race so far includes Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”; Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”; Chris Cooper, “August: Osage County”; Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”; Harrison Ford, “42”; Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”; Matthew McConaughey, “Mud”; and David Oyelowo, “Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.”

Upcoming possibilities in the lead actor races include Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”; and Ben Stiller, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” And, since the films are unseen, it’s hard to know how to handicap the performances in “American Hustle,” “The Counselor,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Monuments Men” and “Out of the Furnace.”

At this point, some of these thesps appear to be front-runners, others seem like remote possibilities. But timing is crucial, and contenders can heat up or cool off as the weeks progress. The only prediction: Expect to be surprised at who is classified as giving a comic or supporting performance, as every awards strategist jockeys for maximum exposure.

The race raises a few questions: Will voters recognize the supporting work of George Clooney in “Gravity,” in which he made maximum impact with minimal screen time? Will voters embrace James Corden’s strong work in “One Chance” as much as Toronto audiences? (The film begins an awards-qualifying run in December.) Will voters remember Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “Don Jon,” Mads Mikkelsen in “The Hunt” and Ryan Gosling in “The Place Beyond the Pines”?

In Toronto, fest artistic director Cameron Bailey introduced “Dallas Buyers Club” to the audience and said that, for whatever reason, audiences are seeing work “at the very top of what is possible in screen acting.” Clearly, he’s right.

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  1. Vikki Gamier says:

    Mads Mikkelsen deserves a best actor nomination for The Hunt but I feel like Hollywood isn’t savvy enough to recognize him as a leading actor even though he’s been one internationally for years now. I expect to be disappointed in January when they announce the nominations. If I’m wrong I’ll be very happy, I just don’t want to get my hopes up!

  2. Zach says:

    Michael B Jordan! He better at least be Nominated! One of the Beat performances ive seen in a while! And it was in a Independent Film. See Fruitvale Station if u Havent!

  3. Rosita Asano says:

    Don’t watch any award shows. Don’t care who gets them. An actor has to be a liberal to win an award, which makes the whole award giving a phony.

  4. Matthew McConaughey Oscar’s Best-Actor
    Jared Leto Oscar´s Best Supporting Actor

  5. Citrus Ian says:

    Chiwetel Ejiofor
    Matthew McConaughey
    Robert Redford
    Forrest Whitaker
    Tom Hanks or Michael B Jordan

  6. ted says:

    Vin Diesel makes as much sense as any of the so-called contenders. Voting for anyone connected with the Butler would definitely lower the bar for any future historical work.

  7. jason says:

    You basically list ever actor in every awards-bait film. For one Daniel Radcliffe is not getting an Oscar nomination. That’s just silly. Neither is Chris Hemsworth. Benedict Cumberbatch is a real stretch here as well. There seems to be some kind of Oscar over-hype intensity in these articles the past few days. The one calling for 20 Best Picture nominations should have been the last. It’s only September.

    • Chardonnay says:

      Actually, Chris Hemsworth has a true chance. Critics say he gave a great, uncanny performance in “Rush”. But it’s only September, anything can happen.

  8. Julie says:

    I would like to know why Vin Diesel is not on the Roster for an Oscar.
    He is an extaordinary humanitarian, actor producer, and writer, with more talent in his pinky finger than most of the actors on this list and feel he is seriously being over looked. Thank you, Julie

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