Oscars flashback: Steve Carell led Best Actor race, Jake Gyllenhaal not even in contention

When we launched our Oscars prediction center in late August, our current Best Actor frontrunner Michael Keaton (“Birdman“) was a distant second to Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher“). And Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler“) — who just reaped bids at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards — did not even figure into our calculations. 

To compare the state of the race at various points in time, go to this page, scroll down and click any two dates (after Aug. 22) on the calendars. You will see who our Experts were predicting to prevail on each date. And be sure to click on the different categories on the left-hand side of the page to see the changes in those races as well.

At the start of the awards season, Carell was coming off of a triumphant screening at Cannes of Bennett Miller‘s dark drama about millionaire John DuPont and his deadly obsession with Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo). Keaton’s campaign kicked into high gear after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s sly satire of stardom opened the Venice filmfest. He has picked up several key critics prizes and contends for all three key precursor awards. 

Four men who play real-life fellows have been trading places on our charts over the past four months. 

When we first surveyed our Oscarologists, Eddie Redmayne was down in fourth place for his portrayal of scientist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything“) behind Timothy Spall who had won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his work as British landscape painter J.W.W. Turner in “Mr. Turner.” After Spall was spurned by the Globes, SAG and Critic’s Choice, he dropped to seventh while Redmayne — who reaped bids with each — has risen to second and is just behind Keaton. 

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in all 24 categories

Likewise, thrice-nominated Benedict Cumberbatch has jumped from sixth to third for his performance as codebreaker Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game.” 

And David Oyelowo, who was in fifth for his work as Martin Luther King, Jr. in the searing “Selma,” has solidifed his standing, buoyed by the rousing reception to the film and his Globe and Critic’s Choice bids.  

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

The biggest surprise this season has been Gyllenhaal, whose tireless promotion propelled “Nightcrawler” into the conversation. He has touted this first directing effort by scripter Dan Gilroy on both coasts and is poised to knock Globe and SAG nominee Carell, whose film failed to find traction, from that fifth slot. 

Will 18 performers with Critics’ Choice, Globes and SAG nominations contend at Oscars too?

Four of our six frontrunners reaped bids at the Golden Globes, SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards. Do you think they will all contend at the Oscars too? Make your predictions below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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