Oscars News: Is Benedict Cumberbatch a ‘nearly perfect’ Oscar bet for ‘The Imitation Game’?

Michael Cieply describes Benedict Cumberbatch as “a nearly perfect Oscar bet” for “The Imitation Game.” With veteran campaigner Harvey Weinstein behind the project, he refers to the film as “The King’s Speech” meets “A Beautiful Mind” on “Brokeback Mountain.” Cumberbatch plays British mathematician Alan Turing and his successful quest to break the Nazi military code during World War II. However, he was a closeted gay man who was horribly treated after the war.  Cumberbatch just won an Emmy Award in August for “Sherlock: His Last Vow” and now seeks his first Oscar nod. New York Times

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Nicole Sperling talks of the many surprises at the Toronto Film Festival in the past few days. She calls the “relative unknown” Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything“) the new frontrunner for Best Actor at the Oscars. She says that he “truly astonished audiences… with his mesmerizing performance” as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. He now joins Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher“), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game“), and Michael Keaton (“Birdman“) at the top of the pack. Entertainment Weekly

Thelma Adams refers to it as a “British invasion of the Oscar race” with three U.K. actors already dominating the lead actor race. In addition to Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner“) is the most recent Cannes winner for playing the English painter J.M.W. Turner. All three men are featured in biopics, and those often play well with Academy voters in this category. Remember recent champs in “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The King’s Speech,” “Lincoln,” and “Milk.” Yahoo Movies

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Steve Pond reports that director Jean-Marc Vallee ordered all mirrors be covered in the dressing room of Reese Witherspoon for the movie shoot of “Wild.” He didn’t want for her to see how “resolutely unglamorous” she would be in playing the role of Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Coast Trail. The production offered no makeup or hair styling for the actress. He says that she is one of the “surest” potential Oscar nominees of this year. The Wrap

Tim Gray says there is “no such thing as a small portion” in Toronto with over 300 films on display, many for the first time. In addition to the names being mentioned often, he brings up several others that offer strong performances. Jennifer Aniston (“Cake”), Kevin Costner (“Black and White“), Rosario Dawson (“Top Five”), Richard Gere (“Time Out of Mind”), and Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) have films that may or may not even open for contention by the end of 2014. Variety

Jeffrey Wells refers to Paul Dano in the indie film “Love and Mercy” as “staggering” and “drop-to-your knees mesmerizing.” Dano portrays Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson in a way that “you can really feel the vibrations and sense the genius-level ferment and the off-balance emotionality.” He laments the fact that it will most likely not have a serious awards campaign, but that the performance deserves all the attention it can receive. Hollywood Elsewhere

Ryan Lattanzio predicts that the new Noah Baumbach film “While We’re Young” has great potential in the Best Original Screenplay category at the Oscars. He says that “critics have been warm” to the film starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as married filmmakers. They befriend a younger hipster couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. He also received a writing nomination for “The Squid and the Whale” in 2005. Thompson on Hollywood

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