2015 Best Actor Oscar Power Rankings

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We’re quickly approaching the 2015 Oscars. Here, you can see my 2015 Best Actor predictions in order of likelihood for a nomination. But only films that have premiered (in theaters or at a festival) will be considered for my 2015 Oscar predictions. As unknowns become knowns, they’ll be added (or knowingly omitted) from this list. And only films/directors/performances that have a genuine shot at a 2015 Oscar nomination will be brought up in this space.

The biggest news here between my October update and this Thanksgiving one is that Selma and David Oyelowo are major contenders. It’s been said and said and said that the 2015 Best Actor category is impossible to break into, but here we are with a relatively unknown actor (at least as far as Oscar is concerned) achieving veritable lock status like that.

The same can’t be said about Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, but he’s another guy in the hunt. So we wait for Unbroken to land and the critics groups to weigh in. Everything is about to kick into high gear, and no category has more question marks or contenders than Best Actor.

2015 Best Actor Predictions

1.) Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game (prev. 1)
Of the four strongest contenders, Cumberbatch is the strongest. He’s the star of the likeliest Best Picture nominee, and he’s a zeitgeisty star who’s hovered around the periphery of the Oscar race for a few years now. He’s in, in, in.

2.) Michael Keaton, Birdman (prev. 2)
Another virtual lock. He’s got the goods and the narrative that could lead him to a win (but we’ll get there in a few months).

3.) Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything (prev. 3)
Virtual lock, part 3.

4.) David Oyelowo, Selma (prev. N/A)
Selma is a contender across the board, and Oyelowo has gotten some phenomenal notices.

5.) Steve Carell, Foxcatcher (prev. 4)
Felt pretty good about Carell until Oyelowo surged past him in the power rankings. Now he’s the obvious #5 (or so it seems), and a number of strong contenders lay in waiting behind him (not to mention Jack O’Connell, who’s still an unknown at this point). Carell still could definitely get in, but he’s not as strong as he once seemed.

6.) Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner (prev. 5)
Spall took home the Best Actor prize at Cannes this year. That’s translated to an Oscar nomination four of the last five years (but very rarely before that, incidentally). Spall could extend that to five of six, but it’ll take a lot of help from the Academy’s British contingent.

7.) Miles Teller, Whiplash (prev. 6)
As far as Oscar buzz goes, there isn’t a hotter commodity than Whiplash right now. It’s been around since Sundance, but only now is it getting taken seriously as a multi-category Oscar threat. Teller could definitely get into the final five, but he’ll need to work it to keep his film’s buzz strong into January.

8.) Bradley Cooper, American Sniper (prev. N/A)
Not everyone loves Clint Eastwood’s latest, but Cooper was universally praised for his work as Chris Kyle. He’s going for three Oscar nominations in as many years, but this would definitely be the toughest field he’s cracked.

9.) Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood (prev. 10)
Feeling a little more bullish about Coltrane than I did last time. Why? Boyhood is your improbable Best Picture frontrunner. With everything else even, that matters.

10.) Bill Murray, St. Vincent (prev. 7)
Only a possible Golden Globe win for Murray (in Best Actor, Comedy or Musical) is keeping him around these parts this month.

11.) Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel (prev. 8)
See Bill Murray.

Dropped out: Phillip Seymour Hoffman (A Most Wanted Man), Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher)