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Battle for the title of America’s leading man

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MCT Photo The 86th Academy Awards nominations for lead actor in a motion picture are Christian Bale, “American Hustle”; Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”; Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

MCT Photo
The 86th Academy Awards nominations for lead actor in a motion picture are Christian Bale, “American Hustle”; Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”; Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

There’s been a lot of talk since Oscar season began about who will win the coveted Best Actor statue at this year’s ceremony.

As of now, tension is hottest between Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey who doled out impressive performances in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” respectively.

When the film season began and people started filing into theaters, it seemed this would surely be DiCaprio’s year. Despite his numerous nominations, the actor has never received an Oscar, much to his fans’ chagrin.

Things started to look grim, however, when McConaughey caught audiences’ attention … by doing a good job.

It would not be incorrect to say that few took McConaughey seriously before 2012, when he garnered positive attention for his role in “Mud.”

Until that point, when McConaughey was brought up, you thought of his pecs and the back of his curly blonde head as he chased after a woman in a bikini.

We rejoiced in the fact that this actor had finally been given a role he could sink his teeth into, while at the same time trying to hide the fact that we were pleasantly surprised to discover he could properly act at all.

DiCaprio, on the other hand, has churned out leading role after leading role since he burst onto the film scene 20 years ago.

This seems to be a main point of contention among fans who are hoping for a DiCaprio win this weekend. It isn’t just that he’s been nominated and let down several times, but that he is always given fantastic roles, the best of the best, and still hasn’t managed a victory.

In light of this, many are wondering if DiCaprio, as has been the case with actors in the past, will be honored not because of his work in this one film but for his remarkable career.

I’ll admit, I am not a DiCaprio fan. In my opinion, he varies very little from performance to performance, lacks a necessary chemistry with his romantic opposites and often mistakes loudness for sincerity in high-stakes moments.

But I also find myself having a difficult time joining the McConaughey’s bandwagon. I wonder if the excitement surrounding his performance really has come about because he sucker punched us.

Would we be excited about McConaughey’s work in “Buyers Club” if these were the kinds of movies he’d been doing from the get-go?

Are Hollywood’s awards shows judging actors on the work they do or the kinds of movies they are able to score a role in?

There are three other men, all just as talented, who have been nominated in the same category but are not being seriously considered for the award.

Have they been forgotten simply because we cannot believe that McConaughey has chops and feel bad that DiCaprio hasn’t won yet?

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