Recently crowned Emmy champ Benedict Cumberbatch (Movie/Mini Actor, “Sherlock”) could well be adding an Oscar to his mantle. His new film “The Imitation Game,” a biopic of WWII codebreaker Alan Turing, is on a rapid rise as an Oscar contender. Bolstered by buzz from both its world premiere at Telluride and being named the most popular film at the Toronto fest, it has shot up to fourth place in the Best Picture race. Likewise for Cumberbatch, riveting as the repressed Turing who eventually kills himself after being persecuted and prosecuted for being gay. (See the rankings of our Experts here)
Back in 2012, Cumberbatch had been favored to win an Emmy for an installment of the second season of “Sherlock” but lost to Kevin Costner (“Hatfields & McCoys”). His show then took an extended hiatus as the busy actor appeared in several high-profile films in 2013. He had supporting roles in the blockbuster sequels “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” as well as the awards contenders “August: Osage County” and “12 Years a Slave.” However, he failed to properly punctuate his year with his leading role as real-life renegade Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate” when that film proved to be a critical and commercial flop.
This year marked the much-heralded return of “Sherlock” and another Emmy nomination for Cumberbatch. Despite being ranked only fourth in our prediction center — behind frontrunners Mark Ruffalo (“The Normal Heart”) and Billy Bob Thornton (“Fargo”) as well as “Sherlock” co-star Martin Freeman who also headlined “Fargo” — he prevailed.
Could this surprise win be a sign of things to come for him at the Oscars?
“The Imitation Game” is being released by the Weinstein Company after head honcho Harvey Weinstein bought the distribution rights based on 15 minutes of footage. He is a powerhouse at promoting his Oscar contenders. And Cumberbatch, who is on a roll awards wise (he also won the triple crown of stage honors in London for “Frankenstein” three years ago), is certainly showcased in “The Imitation Game.”
Much was made this year of the potential for the McConaissance to net Matthew McConaughey both an Oscar and an Emmy in quick succession. While he did win the Best Actor Oscar (“Dallas Buyers Club”), he only got as far as a Drama Actor nomination (“True Detective”) at the Emmys, losing to Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) who had taken home a Tony back in June for “All the Way.”
Can Cumberbatch become only the second actor — after George C. Scott (1971: Oscar, “Patton”; Emmy, “The Price”) — to pull off this double act? Use our drag-and-drop menu below to make your Best Actor predictions.