Our Best Actor Oscar predictions are overwhelming: Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant") will finally win Best Actor after five previous Oscar losses. But while his campaign for an overdue victory has received most of the attention, Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl") has matched him every step of the way on the awards circuit. What's more, Redmayne is the defending champ, having prevailed last year for "The Theory of Everything" over one-time frontrunner Michael Keaton ("Birdman"). Are we underestimating him again this year?
Redmayne has earned nominations from all the key Oscar precursors: the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Critics' Choice Awards. He's also been recognized with nominations from various critics' groups, including journalists from Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Vancouver and Washington DC, to name a few. And all but two of our 24 expert Oscar pundits say he'll be nominated at the Oscars, placing him safely in third with 13/2 odds.
So it may be premature to count Redmayne out for the win. Remember that last year Keaton seemed to be out front for Best Actor for most of the derby. It wasn't until Redmayne's victory at the SAG Awards that the tide started to turn. The fact that he ultimately beat Keaton at the Oscars is even more impressive when you consider that "Birdman" won Best Picture.
Redmayne would be only the third man to win Best Actor two years in a row, following Spencer Tracy ("Captains Courageous" and "Boys Town," 1937-1938) and Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump," 1993-1994), but Redmayne plays the kind of role Oscar voters usually fawn over, undergoing a drastic physical transformation to play a heroic real character: transgender pioneer Lili Elbe.
So while DiCaprio is the frontrunner right now, might we be singing a different tune after actual winners are announced at the Globes, Critics' Choice and SAG Awards?
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"The Danish Girl" photo credit: Moviestore/REX