This year's Academy Award race for Best Actor is one of the tightest competitions in years. The nominations were announced Thursday morning with expected shoe-ins: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) . Some other popular predictions like David Oyelowo (Selma) and Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) were snubbed. One of the biggest surprises in the category was Bradley Cooper's (American Sniper) nomination over Oyelowo . The star of the most buzzed-about film of 2014, and likely its Best Picture, Ellar Coltrane of Boyhood, who filmed the movie for 12 years was also not nominated. The full list includes: Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, Bendict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, and Eddie Redmayne.
Since Redmayne and Keaton took home the Best Actor awards last Sunday at the Golden Globes, in Drama and Comedy respectively, they're being positioned as the top contenders. However, Cumberbatch and Keaton could very easily swoop in for the win. Carell, who completely transformed himself and his career for the role of John du Pont also has the makings of Oscar gold.
Though there might be a few favorites on this year's list, it's really anyone's game. Each role in the Best Actor category is the stuff that Academy dreams are made of. The issue of gay identity in The Imitation Game strikes a major chord with social movements of the last year. Redmayne was universally praised for his touching and transformative portrayal of Stephen Hawking. Bradley Cooper is also on his third nomination and he seems to be an Academt darling.
If I were a betting person, my money would be on Keaton. As much as all of this year's nominees deserve the win, Hollywood just loves a comeback.