Anthony Breznican's forecast in 10 categories, plus possible wild cards to watch
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave (shown)
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Robert Redford, All Is Lost
There's no way for this to end that doesn't hurt. Lead actor was already the toughest race of the year, with many more worthy performances than the five allotted positions. Then came Leonardo DiCaprio's debauched turn in The Wolf of Wall Street and Christian Bale's waistband-busting, hairpiece-torturing con man in American Hustle, while the Screen Actors Guild awards threw Forest Whitaker's somber servant in Lee Daniels' The Butler back into contention. The five men above remain the safest bets, based on what voters are telling EW. The most vulnerable on this list? Robert Redford for the one-man survival saga All Is Lost which would be his first acting nomination since 1973's The Sting. Redford's been largely absent from the meet-and-greet campaign surrounding the awards season, so there could be some wiggle room for actors whose buzz is at its peak right now.
Wild-Card Contender: Christian Bale, American Hustle
Mr. Method delivered yet another shape-shifting, awards-bait performance for American Hustle. He didn't get many major acting nods from the early awards, but the movie has been a late-coming juggernaut that could give him the momentum he needs to unseat one of the front-runners.
Image Credit: Francois Duhamel