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Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Actor

February 13th, 2011

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which nominees should just feel honored to be nominated. This weekend we will look at the four acting categories, continuing with Best Lead Actor, which is possibly the least competitive of the four acting races.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for acting and not other categories. However, they are for supporting and lead acting.)

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem for Biutiful
Tomatometer Score: 66% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Two Independent Spirit Awards, Two SAGs, Four Golden Globes, and Two Oscars
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award, Two SAGs, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Notes: This is the smallest movie on this list, it earned the weakest reviews, Javier Bardem was passed over for other major awards, and he's already won an Oscar so there's no threat of a lifetime achievement award. The longest long shot here.

Jeff Bridges for True Grit
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: Three Independent Spirit Awards, Three SAGs, Four Golden Globes, and Five Oscars
Actor's Previous Major Wins: Two Independent Spirit Awards, One SAG, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Notes: This film has earned excellent reviews, plus it is the biggest box office hit of the five films nominated in this category. It was passed over by the Golden Globes this year, although considering how bad some of their choices were, that might actually be a good thing. On the other hand, Jeff Bridges did win the Oscar last year, and to repeat, the second performance has to be extra special. With no major wins so far, I can't conclude that is likely.

Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
Tomatometer Score: 97% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Two SAG and Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award
Actor's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This film has earned the best reviews of the five films nominated in this category, which means it could be the big winner at this year's Oscars. That could turn into a wave and since Jesse Eisenberg was the only actor from the film nominated, that could help him win. On the other hand, his track record this year has been poor and Colin Firth has beaten him over and over again. That will likely happen again at the Oscars.

Colin Firth for The King's Speech
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Two SAG and a Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Two SAG and a Golden Globe
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award, Three SAGs, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One SAG
Notes: Conventional wisdom says Colin Firth will win the Oscar this year, and quite frankly, it is hard to argue with conventional wisdom. He has won all three major awards he has been nominated for (including as part of the ensemble cast) and many think he should have won at last year's Oscars. The rest of his competition has either won very recently, or are so young that you can assume they will have multiple chances to win again in the future, which will likely hurt their chances at winning this year. Yes, these things shouldn't be a factor, but they can be.

James Franco for 127 Hours
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award, One SAG, and a Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One pending)
Actor's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award, One SAG, and One Golden Globe
Actor's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award
Notes: I wonder if being the host will hurt or help James Franco's chances. It probably won't matter, as Colin Firth seems to have too big a lead over him. I really think he will win an Oscar in his career, maybe multiple Oscars, the first of which could come as early as this time next year. That said, this is simply not his year.

Conclusion: Looking at the five nominees on this list, Colin Firth is clearly the favorite and likely has a significantly better shot at winning than the rest of the nominees combined. The best you can say about the rest is that if any of them won, there's some vague, post hoc explanation that can be given. That's hardly reason to bet against the favorite.


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Filed under: True Grit, The Social Network, 127 Hours, Biutiful, The King’s Speech