The Oscar race for Best Actor is too crowded. In our podcast chat, Thelma Adams (Yahoo) and I have trouble whittling down the list of seven top contenders to five final nominees.
"I would say that we still have Daniel Day-Lewis as No. 1," she says and I agree, but I'm not quite sure that John Hawkes is "pretty much a sure thing for 'The Sessions,'" as she says. Look at all of the other heavyweights in the ring: Joaquin Phoenix ("The Master"), Denzel Washington ("Flight"), Anthony Hopkins ("Hitchcock"), Hugh Jackman ("Les Miserables") and – recently promoted to lead from supporting -- Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained").
"I think you can pretty safely say that Christoph Waltz is going to knock it out of the park," Thelma asserts. Yes, but we both wonder why the Weinstein Co. suddenly gave him a promotion when the studio has two other contenders in that category: Phoenix and Cooper. Cooper probably can't win, but early this derby season Phoenix looked like the frontrunner. Then, however, he tripped himself up by publicly denouncing Oscar as "total, utter bull**** … and the stupidest thing in the whole world."
Thelma believes that "Weinstein Co. senses weakness in the other two – Joaquin and Cooper."
She and I concur that the biggest suspense looming over this race is the quality of the performance by the star of still-unseen "Les Miserables." "The huge open question is Hugh Jackman," she adds.
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Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.