BY DYLAN ANDREW
- Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs" - Though there's no runaway front-runner as of yet in this category, it appears as though Fassbender is out in front right now for his stunning work as Steve Jobs. Though I suspect he will be the winner when all is said and done, the next name on this list might have something to say about that.
- Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant" - With "The Wolf of Wall Street", the "give Leo and Oscar" campaign rose to a fever pitch. If this performance delivers on its on-paper potential (and that trailer certainly looks impressive), this just might be the one.
- Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl" - This performance from the reigning champion in this category had high expectations which some felt it failed to meet coming out of the fall festivals. Regardless, most reviews were strong or at the very least for Redmayne and his popularity combined with the transformative nature of the role should carry it over the top.
- Matt Damon in "The Martian" - Still not sure if Oscar support for this film will amount to support for Damon, but it's a meaty central role in a hugely popular film and he's well-liked enough that I could see him getting in.
- Michael Caine in "Youth" - Don't know much about this film, but Caine is a living legend and has gotten solid reviews for this film and looks to have a good chance at a nom here. Also, the subject matter should play well for the older-skewing Academy.
- OTHER POSSIBILITIES: Johnny Depp in "Black Mass", Bryan Cranston in "Trumbo", Tom Hanks in "Bridge of Spies", Jake Gyllenhaal in "Southpaw"
- Brie Larson in "Room" - From the film's debut at Toronto, she appeared to be a strong contender, and the popularity of the film has only seemed to increase since then. Also, her main competitor has very recently won her own trophy in this category which could work to Larson's benefit.
- Cate Blanchett in "Carol" - Seemingly a lock for a nomination, but with two wins under her belt already and one having come very recently for "Blue Jasmine", she seems unlikely to win again. Though there's been some suggestion that her other acclaimed performance this year in "Truth" could overtake "Carol" as her best shot at a nom, but "Carol" seems to be a stronger contender overall.
- Jennifer Lawrence in "Joy" - Whatever else happens to "Joy" this season, I would be very surprised if Lawrence doesn't get a nomination here. Her track record for Oscar noms under David O. Russell is still a perfect 2 for 2 (including 1 win), and after playing second fiddle in those previous outings, she appears to be fully front and center in "Joy".
- Saoirse Ronan in "Brooklyn" - She's been getting strong reviews for her work in this film since Sundance, and this looks to be two-time reigning BP winner Fox Searchlights' strongest contender overall. The previous nominee for "Atonement" should be in.
- Emily Blunt in "Sicario" - I think most people who make Oscar predictions are woefully underestimating Blunt's chances of scoring a nomination. "Sicario" is currently the highest-grossing Indie of the year and the film has gotten terrific reviews (93% on RT), many of which single her performance out. This is combined with the fact that she is a very well-liked and popular actress who has yet to receive a nomination and this is her most acclaimed and unexpected work to date.
- OTHER POSSIBILITIES: Charlotte Rampling in "45 Years", Carey Mulligan in "Suffragette", Cate Blanchett in "Truth", Lilly Tomlin in "Grandma"