What are the Oscar odds? The Best Actor nominees
Raja Sen lays his bets on the actors most likely to win the Oscar in the Best Actor category this year.
Alfred Hitchcock had once famously called actors 'cattle.'
Being far kinder (yet perhaps even more exploitative) this Oscar season we look on them as racehorses.
Here, then, is the form-book for the Best Actor race: giving you the odds on the nods, telling you who's on his way to win, and who might just be left behind. Starting with most-likely and moving towards least-likely, here are our horses:
5/1: Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Whatever be the outcome on Oscar-night, this year is already feeling like the year of The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius' glorious silent movie romance winning unanimous applause from all over the world.
Dujardin, playing silent movie superstar George Valentin, is perfect in the part, first posturing and egging it on for the cameras and then wallowing in the lack of limelight, but it isn't a difficult role compared to his fellow nominees.
Why, then, is he the most likely to win? Simply because he's gone on a charm offensive and Hollywood seems very, very smitten.
Image: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in The Artist
4/1: George Clooney in The Descendants
In Alexander Payne's latest film, George Clooney is given a tremendously complicated role -- of a man with his wife in a coma who discovers she was cheating on him -- and Hollywood's greatest star performs terrifically well, checking in his coolth to create a heartbreakingly helpless, hapless protagonist.
It's being called the performance of his career, and nobody is likely to be surprised if Clooney wins. Not as many people are betting on him, is all.
Image: George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendants
3/1: Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The performance of the year comes from Oldman as he plays John Le Carre's iconic spy George Smiley in this mesmerising adaptation.
Heavily internalised, immaculately measured and played with masterful elegance, this is without a doubt the performance that *should* win, and the fact that Oldman, 53, has never won or been nominated before could help his chances.
I, for example, am rooting for this one.
Image: Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
1/5: Brad Pitt in Moneyball
He's the dark horse, this one.
His performance as real life baseball manager Billy Beane is striking as he chomps on Twinkies and silences while knocking each of Aaron Sorkin's lines right out of the park.
It's a solid, very Oscar-y performance but Brad isn't likely to inch out three men better than him. Then again, if he's the most popular 2nd place actor, that'd do it as well. Still, it's a long-shot.
Image: Brad Pitt in Moneyball
1/10: Demian Bichir in A Better Life
You know when they often parrot the cliched line that "it's an honour just to be nominated"?
Well, it is for 48-year-old Bichir, who is completely crowded out of the category by heavier, more substantial and more famous acting talent.
The 48-year-old Mexican actor, last seen by most of us as Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh's Che, is great as a gardener out of his depth, but it would take a major miracle for him to win the award against this opposition.
Image: Demian Bichir in A Better Life