Nicole Sperling
September 12, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Toronto International Film Festival — not to mention the recent Telluride fest — marked the unofficial beginning of Oscar season. The biggest breakout this year was Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables), who astonished as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Some prognosticators now have him in the lead of an already crowded Best Actor field that includes Michael Keaton (Birdman), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), and Steve Carell (Foxcatcher). ”The greatest moment of relief for me was when Stephen saw the film and enjoyed it,” Redmayne told EW the morning after the film’s debut. As for the Oscar chatter, he says, ”I’m trying not to read stuff, because I’ll end up having a meltdown.” The Best Actress category remains wide open, but Redmayne’s costar Felicity Jones could face off against Reese Witherspoon for her turn in Wild. And Jennifer Aniston and Kristen Wiig are both earning raves for their dramatic roles in (respectively) Cake and Welcome to Me, which are still shopping for distributors.

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