- Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)Considering the category is a big mess, he could easily win his second Oscar this year that was probaby his most impressive yet (Lincoln, critical acclaim for Hope Springs, MIB3).
- Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)Even though his co-stars were ignored by the Screen Actors Guild Award, they did nominate him, so now he is the film's strongest bet for an acting nomination. BUT if the film divides voters, even he could be in trouble.
- Alan Arkin (Argo)The SAG/GG/BFCA trio makes him a lock...on paper. Seeing how many A-listers are bringing their A-game this year, delivering flashy supporting performances one after another, I honestly don't think his place in the top5 is as safe as his precursors make it look like.
- Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)He is probably in, even without a Golden Globe nomination, not to mention this could be his big Oscar-comeback after a 21-year hiatus. I think the Academy will jump on the opportunity to welcome this living legend back into the fold.
- Javier Bardem (Skyfall)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)He is definitely a major threat and the Academy LOVES leading men in baity supporting roles. Having said that, the Academy also seems to have a problem with this particular leading man : he has been doing the best work of his career recently (Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, Inception, J. Edgar) and the Academy failed to take notice and since they didn't even nominate him last year when he had an excellent track record (SAG/GG/BFCA), I don't have much faith in them this time around, either, not when he also faces brutal internal competition (Waltz, Jackson).
- Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)Critics seem to enjoy his turn and his previous Tarantino-performance garnered him an Oscar (and every other existing acting award for that matter), but the VERY late arrival of the film and internal competition will be probably tough to overcome in the end.
- Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike)He started out so spectacularly (NYFCC-win, BFCA-nod), but without the crucial SAG-nod and a (somewhat important) GG-nod, I don't think the Academy could be convinced his 'Dallas' has a place in the top5.
- Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild)The LAFCA-win was an unexpected but welcome surprise, unfortunately I'm fairly certain his winning streak ends there as far as this Awards-season goes.
- Ewan McGregor (The Impossible)Seeing what a colossal mess this category seems to be at the moment, I have a hunch McGregor will pull off the big 'shock' on the 9th. He has a very passionate campaign involving very vocal superstar supporters (Angelina Jolie), and this is exactly the kind of approach that garnered Javier Bardem (Biutiful) and Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) surprise Oscar nominations in recent years...although those two received Bafta-nods first, so if McGregor fails to deliver that, I'll be convinced once and for all, that my hunch is probably way off.
- Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables)Again, the category is all over the place, and his film could still be a strong player in the main categories, so thanks to the early raves his performance received, Redmayne should still garner votes, question is whether enough for the top5 ?
- Jude Law (Anna Karenina)I think if the film pulls off any shocks, it will be in Best Actress and not in Best Supporting Actor. Having said that, I am very disappointed that this brilliant turn – his best in years, one of the best of 2012 – has been overlooked so far.
- Michael Caine (The Dark Knight Rises)I am still hoping for an unikely TDKR-resurgence (PGA-nod could happen and the DGA loves Nolan) and if the film will be strong enough, I think Caine is their best shot for an acting nomination.
- Russel Crowe (Les Miserables)He received mixed early reviews and seems to be losing to co-star Eddie Redmayne. Unfortunately for now neither seems to have enough to actually make the cut.
- Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained)Apparently he is phenomenal in this, but could he still get more votes than DiCaprio and Waltz, or will they just all cancel each other out ?
- Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)Second critically acclaimed performance in second consecutive year. It doesn't even matter that he won't be nominated this year, because one day when he will, he'll already have a very impressive body of work.