- Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life)He has been an A-list movie star for almost two decades now, he received raves, maybe even career-best reviews for his performance. I think he will pull a 'Bale' this year.
- Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)Early word is outstanding when it comes to his turn as Laurence Olivier, add the (in)famous Weinstein-push and he could even win.
- Christopher Plummer (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo OR Beginners)He received some good ink for Beginners but it might have come out too early in the game. He plays a pivotal role in 'Tattoo' but he faces serious internal competition there.
- Tom Hanks (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)If the film becomes a big Oscar-movie, he will probably get in, he is one of the most beloved stars in the business AND a fine actor, as well.
- Ralp Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II)Call me crazy, but I genuinely believe that the swan song of THE most iconic villain of the last decade won't go unnoticed...especially because Fiennes is also overdue.
- Colin Firth (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)I wouldn't be surprised if he got his third nomination in the third consecutive year. I mean...once you're in, you're IN. Just ask Penelope Cruz!
- Stellan Skarsgard (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)He might have a few scenes near the end of the film that could really showcase his versatility. He has been in the business for a long time, this might just be his ticket to Kodak.
- Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)He is one of the best character actors around, playing a real-life person next to Meryl the Great could get him a nomination without a hitch. We'll see.
- Armie Hammer (J.Edgar)He seems to have the biggest part among the film's many male supporting players therefore he might have the edge over the others, unless one of them doesn't commit vicious 'scenestealing'.
- Vincent Cassel (A Dangerous Method)
- Hunter McCracken (The Tree of Life)He received some good ink and youngsters sometimes do turn up in the supporting categories.
- Ezra Miller (We need to talk about Kevin)IF the film will be big enough...for now, I think it will be this year's Rabbit Hole : rave reviews for the whole cast and crew but in the end only the female lead will get in...and considering Swinton's recent snubs, her nomination would be an accomplishment already
- Alex Schaffer (Win Win)If the film hadn't come out so early, he could have been seriously considered 'the breakthrough kid' of the season.
- Jan Cornet (The Skin I live in)He has a very difficult part, one that could definitely get him noticed. The question is how will the film fare with US-critics ?
- The (Other) Men of War HorseThere are so many good actors in this film that I genuinely can't say whether one of them will be the standout in a big way, or not. They are : David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbel, Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan, David Kross.
- The (Other) Men of Hugo CabretDitto : Sasha Baron Cohen, Richard Griffiths, Ray Winstone, Michael Stuhlbarg, Christopher Lee
- Alan Rickman (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II)He has been doing good work for decades, he has been very consistent with critics and fans alike. I guess it will all come down to whether the Academy will take the franchise's swan song seriously or not.
- Patrick Wilson (Young Adult)If the part is complex enough, he could get close. A trailer would definitely help.
- Tom Hardy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)Rising star-alert...his only problem is the fierce internal competition.
- Jonah Hill (Moneyball)I read somewhere that he is really good in this, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
- Josh Lucas (J.Edgar)What can I say, Hammer seems stronger on paper...and internal competition is a bitch.
- Dermot Mulroney (J.Edgar)Ditto...although he IS playing Charles Lindbergh.
- Jeffrey Donovan (J.Edgar)Ditto...although he IS playing a Kennedy.
- Garrett Hedlund (On the Road)The role is baity and a good opportunity to showcase his acting talent. Could he pull it off ?
- Patrick Fugit (We bought a Zoo)He is reunited with his Almost Famous writer-director, so that's a plus, unfortunately there is virtually no information on his character and that's a minus...for now.
- Bryan Cranston (Contagion)He is an outstanding, criminally underrated actor, could this be his first nomination ?
- Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris)One of those actors who ALWAYS delivers yet the Academy ALWAYS ignores him. He is in that Rockwell-McGregor category.
- Jamie Bell (Jane Eyre)He was widely expected to become one of the youngest Best Actor nominees but the Academy didn't agree. They won't take notice this time around, either, but I think it's worth emphasizing that he has been doing solid work ever since his early breakthrough.
- Gerard Butler (Coriolanus)Playing a Shakespeare-character always looks good on the resume, the only question remains whether it can resonate with voters or not ?
- Brian Cox (Coriolanus)Ditto.
- Bruce Greenwood (Meek's Cutoff)The film is a critical hit, unfortunately that alone rarely translates into Awards-love. Could he pull a 'Hawkes' or not ?
- Paul Dano (Meek's Cutoff)Ditto.
- Cillian Murphy (In Time)I consider him one of THE most consistent young actors, he is always good to great so I expect him to overshadow his co-stars in this (Alex Pettyfer, Justin Timberlake). IF he is the standout AND the film is well-received enough, he MIGHT get the nomination he should have gotten years ago.
- Tom Hollander (Hanna)He was wickedcrazygood in this film but unfortunately the early release date and the genre pretty much killed his chances.
- Aaron Johnson (Albert Nobbs)He is definitely a rising star, but the Academy might want to make him wait...good news, that if my hunch doesn't fail me, he doesn't have to wait THAT long...Anna Karenina comes out next year.
- Paul Giamatti (The Ides of March)He is always great therefore he is always a contender.
- Ben Kingsley (Hugo Cabret)Ditto.
- Jude Law (Contagion OR Hugo Cabret)He is a remarkably talented actor but he made a bunch of terrible career choices in the last couple of years. Hopefully he is back to quality projects for good. Just like in Aaron Johnson's case, he shouldn't be devastated in case he misses out this year...he is playing a VERY meaty role in Anna Karenina next year.
- Sean Penn (The Tree of Life)If the film truly doesn't have a lead, there will be internal competition...and if there will be internal competition, Pitt will probably have the edge.
- George Clooney (The Ides of March)He could be eligible for 5 (!) categories this year (picture, director, screenplay, actor, supporting actor), so I guess it's safe to say he WILL get at least one nomination...but 5 ? Crazy talk...right ?
- Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March OR Moneyball)He is one of the best actors today so he is automatically in the race.
- Adrien Brody (Midnight in Paris)Too early, too light. Although he IS playing Dali...
- Thomas Haden Church (We bought a Zoo)I was wondering whether he will turn out to be a one-trick-pony Oscar-wise or not. I guess I'll get the answer to that question this year.
- Viggo Mortensen (On the Road)Although he will probably nail it, he faces serious internal competition and his other film will probably overshadow this one big time.
- David Straithirn (The Whistleblower)The film will be probably too small – not even Rachel Weisz's critically acclaimed lead performance is considered very seriously at the moment - but on the bright side, he has just won an Emmy.
- Laurence Fishburne (Contagion)Internal competition is STILL...a bitch.
- John Hawkes (Contagion)Ditto.
COULD BE LEAD
- Christoph Waltz (Carnage)This will be a tough one when it will come to the acting categories : the film has 4 leads...will they compete against each other and risk canceling each other out OR there will be a 'lead couple' and a 'supporting couple' ? If they go the second route, that could result 4 (!) acting nominations in 4 different categories...that hasn't happened in a while so I really don't think the studio could resist the option of downgrading a pair of their leads in order to achieve that rare accomplishment OR at least to have a shot at achieving it.
- John C. Reilly (Carnage OR We need to talk about Kevin)Ditto.
- Geoffrey Rush (The Eye of the Storm)The source material is promising, but the lack of buzz is not.
OUT (for now)
Alex Pettyfer (In Time)
Matt Bomer (In Time)
Seth Rogen (50 / 50)
Tom Sturridge (On the Road)
Terrence Howard (On the Road)
Steve Buscemi (On the Road)
John Goodman (Extremely loud and Incredibly Close)
Max von Sydow (Extremely loud and Incredibly Close)
James Gandolfini (Extremely loud and Incredibly Close)