Amy Adams

Films: "American Hustle," "Her"

Categories: Lead, Supporting

American Hustle

Very few people have seen "Her," and no one has seen "American Hustle." Yet that shouldn't stop buzz from building around the oft-nominated Amy Adams for her roles in both films. This year's Lois Lane has racked up an astounding four supporting actress nominations before reaching age 40 with her latest coming just last year for "The Master." She's teaming with Joaquin Phoenix again in Spike Jonze's "Her," but her role couldn't be more different. Look for her ever-increasing range to help her score votes, but we won't have a great idea of her status until more eyes have access to her work.

Could she do it? Absolutely, but she would have to fight her way into the lead category for one of the films (most likely "American Hustle" considering Scarlett Johansson's voice gets more screentime than Adams in "Her"). That's not an easy task. It feels like Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") and Sandra Bullock ("Gravity") are already in a two-way race for Oscar, and Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, and Judi Dench are already very strong contenders to round out the five slots. For better or worse, this all could change once we see "American Hustle." Until then, here's hoping she can earn "Her" movie one more nod. 

Leonardo DiCaprio

Films: "The Wolf of Wall Street," "The Great Gatsby"

Categories: Lead (both)

The Great Gatsby Leonardo DiCaprio

Oh, how I want to say Leo isn't a dark horse for "The Great Gatsby." Love or hate Baz Luhrmann's vivacious interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel (hey - it wasn't half as glitzy as "Moulin Rouge!"), everyone could agree DiCaprio's Gatsby was something to behold. His star turn alone earns him consideration while his unique ability to be nervous and commanding simultaneously carried the character off the page and into our hearts. Still, despite earning enough money to impress even Jay-Z, "The Great Gatsby" has lost most of the little buzz it had upon its release back in May. Most voters were soured by the film, and those lingering negative vibes can spoil even a great actor's best efforts. 

The lack of buzz around DiCaprio in "Gatsby" is also probably on purpose. "The Wolf of Wall Street" just feels like a safer bet, right? Doesn't it feel appropriate for DiCaprio to take home his first Oscar for a film he made with longtime collaborator Martin Scorsese (though he did also make "Romeo + Juliet" with Luhrmann)? No one has seen "Wolf" either, but much like Jonah Hill's large teeth have earned him early buzz, so has Leo's ability to pop and lock. Seriously, though, Scorsese's latest looks like another "role of a lifetime" for DiCaprio. It's positioned nicely for a late season run with its Christmas Day release, and DiCaprio will benefit from the positive reviews he earned for "Gatsby." I hate to say it, old sport, but it will take one helluva performance in "Wolf" for Leo to break into the Best Actor race and a damn miracle for him in for "Gatsby."

Christian Bale

Films: "American Hustle," "Out of the Furnace"

Categories: Lead (both)

Out Of The Furnace

"Out of the Furnace" made its premiere earlier this week at AFI Fest with more of a whimper than a bang. Bale earned a few rave reviews, but the film was greeted with the equivalent of a participation trophy from critics who admired its intentions while faulting the execution. While he's still a contender, Bale needed "Out of the Furnace" to go over well as a whole for him to have a legitimate shot at busting into the Best Actor race. Now he'll have to rely on a box office bump and a surprise nominations day announcement, both of which are unlikely scenarios for the Oscar winner.

Another issue facing Bale would be vote splitting. He's undoubtedly the lead in "Out of the Furnace," and he's being touted as the lead in "American Hustle" as well. As we've gone over already, no one has seen "American Hustle" which makes it hard to judge whether or not he's a threat to sneak into the final field of five. That being said, there are two films left to be screened that could still run the table come Oscar night: "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street." If "American Hustle" proves to be on that level, Bale could find himself scoring his second nomination for a David O. Russell film--and, rather shockingly, his second nomination ever.