Redmayne eyed for Best Actor

Editor’s note: Oscar Buzz is a four-part series reviewing acting performances of Academy Award nominees.

This year’s Best Actors nominees bring first time nominations for four out of the five actors nominated: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), while American Sniper gave Bradley Cooper his third consecutive nomination.

In a year that has been much criticized for lack of diversity, I fear that this category is no exception. It’s surprising to see that David Oyelowo of Selma was snubbed as his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left a lasting impression on audiences. Here I break down the actors’ performances and predict a winner.

Steve Carell’s performance in Foxcatcher is certainly the best acting he has done of his career. Carell has tried his hand at dramas before with Dan in Real Life and Little Miss Sunshine, but the role of frightening and obsessive mentor/killer Jon Du Pont is where the actor brought his A-game. Carell acts with a slow methodical presence; his character gives the impression of a bad actor rehearsing a play, with odd and insincere remarks.

Michael Keaton stars as the brooding Riggan Thomsan in the Meta hit Birdman. Keaton plays an aging actor on a quest to prove that he is more than the action hero he used to play decades ago (you might remember Keaton played Batman decades earlier). This is the best acting Keaton has done in years, possibly his whole career. Keaton stands a good chance of winning the award this year.

Bradley Cooper’s turnaround performance from his last two manic Oscar nominated roles, Silver Lining Playbook and American Hustle, both under the direction of David O’Russel. Cooper is relatively convincing as the Navy Seals sniper Chris Kyle.

Benedict Cumberbatch in the drama The Imitation Game is a contradiction to the recent characters he has played. The Alan Turing is self-aware, confident, bumbling, socially inept, aloof yet arrogant. It’s a nice change of pace to watch Cumberbatch spread his wings as an actor. Although this is a fresh experience for fans of the actor, the portrayal lacked depth.

One simply stunning performance that will surely be the winner of this year’s accolade came from Eddie Redmayne of The Theory of Everything. His physical transformation as the ALS stricken theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is heartbreaking to watch as his disease slowly spreads over the course of the film. Redmayne captures the silent crushing frustration as he struggles to do elementary tasks such as eating dinner while his loved ones breeze through them with ease.

Redmayne captures slight movements and utilizes his posture to portray a harsh reality that many face on a daily basis. A particularly hard moment to watch was a scene in which Stephen came home to find Jonathon, his wife’s new friend, teaching their son the piano and gently placing his hand on his pupils elbow. The pain that flits through Redmayne’s eye, as he sees a man who could replace him in his son’s life is exactly the kind of acting that is capable of winning the Oscar.

I’m confident that this years Oscar will be a sure win for the first time nominee Eddie Redmayne.