- Brad Pitt (Moneyball)The unexpected support from the New York Film Critics put him right at the top of the list. It might just be some temporary momentum, but it is definitely a great start for him. Although I still think he has a better shot in the supporting category. But if 'The Artist' keeps winning those best picture awards...
- Jean Dujardin (The Artist)If the Weinsteins pull off another best picture victory here, Dujardin WILL win Best Actor.
- George Clooney (The Descendants)If he were Oscarless, this could be definitely his year...but he isn't, so at this point, only a solid nomination seems guaranteed.
- Leonardo DiCaprio (J.Edgar)The mediocre reviews and Box Office definitely messed up his supposed frontrunner-status BUT a nomination should still happen without a hitch. A win ? I have no idea.
- Michael Fassbender (Shame OR A Dangerous Method OR Jane Eyre)He has plenty of momentum but will Academy members embrace 'Shame' ? And if they won't, will they nominate him for another film ?
- Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)As much as I hate to even think it, for now I feel he will be snubbed again. This year is just too damn competitive with a bunch of superstars in the mix. Having said that, his film is receiving a few of THE best reviews of 2011, so if that critics love translates into Oscar-love AND the film becomes a player, Oldman will get stronger, too.
- Matt Damon (We bought a Zoo)ANOTHER superstar who has just received some remarkably strong early word. Could a Pitt-Clooney-DiCaprio-Damon quartet happen this year ? That would be definitely VERY ratings-friendly.
- Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)In my opinion, he delivered one of the very best male performances this year...too bad a bunch of popular movie stars and actors in potential bp-nominees seem to be already ahead of him.
- Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus)The film is great and his performance is expectedly excellent, but the hype seems to be missing...could it be that the Weinsteins put all their energy into Marilyn, Thatcher and The Artist ?
- Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March OR Drive)STRONG CONTENDERS
- Joseph Gordon-Lewitt (50 / 50)Wishful thinking, I know, but I'm still hoping he could be a surprise nominee. His turn was very impressive. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see comedic turns in the lead categories with him and Theron also in the mix ?
- Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)IF the film becomes a best picture frontrunner...IF
- Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris)Ditto.
- Asa Butterfield (Hugo)Ditto.
- Thomas Horn (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)Ditto.
- Jeremy Irwine (War Horse)Ditto.
- Woody Harrelson (Rampart)There is some buzz, but probably not enough in a ridiculously strong company like this year's Best Actor race.
- Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn)He is a great actor, but his film belongs to Michelle Williams. Maybe next time ? OR maybe next year ? Les Miserables seems like a film the Academy could definitely love...
- Demian Bichir (A Better Life)He got some great ink, but the film is more 'Spirit Awards' than 'Oscar', although he might have some little momentum left, he is still mentioned in Oscar-pieces every now and then, even though his little-known film was released months ago.
- Christopher Plummer (Barrymore)Is it getting an Oscar-qualifying run this year ? A one-man-show that previously garnered him a Tony, is definitely in consideration.
- Mel Gibson (The Beaver)It might be his best performance to date...but even if it hadn't been released so early and hadn't received so remarkably mediocre reviews, he doesn't seem to be forgiven just yet.
- Dominic Cooper (The Devil's Double)Too early, to mediocre overall reviews...but for the record : GREAT performance.
- Tom Hardy (Warrior)He has the reviews, if he had the Box Office, as well, he would be in the top10.
- Anton Yelchin (Like Crazy)Yelchin is very good here, but Jones still steals the show.
- Michael Sheen (Beautiful Boy)Outstanding, ridiculously underrated actor. Unfortunately his film was released way too early and its Box Office was basically non-existent.
OUT (for now)
Ewan McGregor (Beginners)
Maybe the Golden Globes ?
Steve Carrell (Crazy, Stupid, Love)
Paul Giamatti (Win Win)
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II)
He could be only considered even for consideration, IF the franchise-ender pulls off a HUGE sweep...