For much of this awards season we've been able to count on victories for "Dallas Buyers Club" stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, who won Best Actor and Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice Awards, and SAG Awards. And they're strong frontrunners to win at the Oscars too,
Their enviable track record makes it harder to figure out what will happen at the BAFTAs, where surprisingly neither was nominated.
While no one has won Best Actor at the Oscars without at least a BAFTA nod since 2001 (Denzel Washington, "Training Day"), and no one has done it in the Supporting Actor race since 2004 (Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"), I don't think McConaughey or Leto need worry that much. They've built up so much momentum there may be no stopping them but BAFTA could indicate potential spoilers.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is our odds-on favorite for Best Actor. The "12 Years a Slave" star gets 1/5 odds in our predictions center, likely in large part because he's one of the only two British actors in the running – the other is Welshman Christian Bale ("American Hustle").
BAFTA often honors its hometown favorites, like recent multiple winners Colin Firth ("A Single Man" and "The King's Speech") and Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York," "There Will Be Blood," and "Lincoln").
But being British isn't a foolproof path to victory. In 2008, American Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") defeated Brit Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire"). And in 2006, American Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland") bested a trio of British actors: Daniel Craig ("Casino Royale"), Richard Griffiths ("The History Boys"), and Peter O'Toole ("Venus").
So, we should watch out also for a pair of Americans: Bruce Dern ("Nebraska") and Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Wolf of Wall Street"). We haven't seen how either measures up to Ejiofor in a race without McConaughey in it, so it's possible we're overestimating the hometown advantage.
The Supporting Actor race may be even more unpredictable. Ejiofor's "12 Years" co-star Michael Fassbender leads our racetrack odds, but Leto has so dominated the field throughout the season that Fassbender hasn't had many opportunities at the podium. Will he really do as well with BAFTA voters as we expect?
behind the candelabra matt damon bafta awardsFassbender faces a pair of fellow Oscar-nominees – Barkhad Abdi ("Captain Phillips") and Bradley Cooper ("American Hustle") – as well as Daniel Bruhl, a German actor playing famous Austrian Formula One racer Niki Lauda in "Rush." While Bruhl ranks second in our odds, I think the real wild card is Matt Damon.
He is nominated for "Behind the Candelabra," the HBO telefilm for which he competed in TV categories at the Emmys, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards, but Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic had a theatrical release in the UK.
He's really a lead in the film – he has more screentime than his co-star Michael Douglas – which may be an advantage. This is Damon's first time competing this performance in the supporting category; at previous events he has lost the lead-acting race to Douglas every time. With Leto out of the way, could Damon be the real spoiler?
Can anyone challenge Ejiofor and Fassbender at the BAFTAs?