It makes it particularly true that it's an honour just to be nominated for these five men, a couple of whom can relax and enjoy the show with the knowledge that they won't be winning. For those of us who follow this awards madness closely, however, it will be the one suspenseful acting award of the night, as we nervously wait to see if a beloved veteran can fend off the late advances of younger A-listers with more typical Oscar roles.
"Ornithologist, philatelist, philanthropist, Oscar nominee."
Firstly let me make it clear, that beloved veteran I refer to is not Steve Carell. True, he is beloved, and has amassed enormous industry goodwill for his hilarious work on both the big and small screen for more than a decade, culminating in his complexly scary performance as the unstable John du Pont in Foxcatcher.
And true, it is a role that, on paper, looks like a shoe-in to win: Comic actor playing against type, heavy prosthetic transformation, real-life tragic figure,
and on top of all that the movie is simply superb. But no, he is not seriously in the running to win. The nomination is triumph enough in a category otherwise dominated by men leading a Best Picture nominee, which Carell is not. It's swell just to see him recognized, especially after my worries that his comedy background might hinder him in the super tight race for nominations. That myopic belief turned out to be wrong, but my belief that he won't be winning will probably prove more accurate.
The Imitation Game -- itself a serious threat to steal Best Picture when everyone least suspects it -- checks off every stereotypical criterion for Oscar-winning performances with computer-like efficiency: True story, check. Misunderstood outsider, check. Unappreciated genius, check. Weepy Oscar clip, check. But for Cumberbatch, this feels like a warmup to greater award success later in his career. In a weaker year he could have stood a chance, but there happens to be a star in another British biopic role that ticks off even more of those Oscar criteria.
but with a role this baity, and with the Drama Globe, SAG, and BAFTA in hand, Redmayne is poised to be one of the exceptions.
Will win: Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
Runner-up: Michael Keaton in Birdman
Should win: Michael Keaton in Birdman
Should have been nominated: Jake Gyllenhall in Nightcrawler