Matthew McConaughey
FRONTRUNNER: Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey followed the industry’s win-an-Oscar checklist for Dallas Buyers Club. He lost a ton of weight. (Check.) He played someone suffering a fatal illness. (Check.) And he delivered one hell of a memorable performance. (Check mate.) As fiery Texan Ron Woodroof, McConaughey gave a spine to the usual Hollywood "message" movie, shedding pounds but picking up attitude as he railed against a flawed government system that keeps powerful drugs out of the hands of the people who need them.

But that’s not why McConaughey is our choice for frontrunner in the Best Actor category. It’s simply his time. The actor switched gears on his career a while back, abandoning the safe path (which led to more Kate Hudson movies) to challenge the status quo. His recent hot streak includes Magic Mike, Mud, Bernie, The Wolf of Wall Street, Killer Joe and The Lincoln Lawyer. Recent wins at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and the Critics’ Choice suggest McConaughey is riding a tidal wave of support that we think will bring him the Oscar on March 2.

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