The lead acting category is tight this year, with some potent actors and roles. Bridges, Clooney and Freeman have well demonstrated their worth as actors being guys with multiple nominations to date. Bridges is believed by many to be overdue for a win, while both Clooney and Freeman have each won one, both in a supporting role. Firth and Renner are newcomers to the world of Oscar nods.
All five of these movies are wonderful and all roles are powerful, but my sense is that this is a race between Bridges and Firth. Bridges likely has an edge for a couple of reasons. As I said, he is perceived to be due. Also, his movie has a wider audience appeal.
My preference in this category is Firth. Bridges was indeed brilliant, but it did remind me of Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler last year… a washed up performer trying to make a comeback in the midst of significant lifestyle issues. If we were to run back through our movie minds, there likely has been a few roles of this variety, and a few actors we could see pulling off the current role. I see Firth’s role as more unique. His use of tone, body language and facial expressions transcends a screenplay. His performance made the role memorable.
My preference is Firth, but my prediction is Bridges.