Nothing makes me happier on the morning of the Oscar nominations announcement than hearing the name of a deserving actor who finally gets his due. Last year, my heart swelled for Christian Bale and Mark Ruffalo, two unique actors whose eclectic work in the past decade had been inexplicably neglected by the Academy. Now, as we head into awards season, it’s time to examine who has the best chance to join the First Timer’s Club. Last year, Bale and Ruffalo were two of seven first-timers (James Franco, Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, and Jesse Eisenberg) so there’s room for more than one, obviously. But clearly, some have waited longer than others, beginning with Gary Oldman. His role as a sly spy master in the John le Carré classic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is being heralded as his sure-thing performance after years of being overlooked despite delivering memorable characters in Sid and Nancy, Prick Up Your Ears, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, and The Contender. Is it his time? Or might his Harry Potter colleague, Alan Rickman, finally get some credit for his excellent work as Severus Snape in the Deathly Hallows — Part II?
The two Brits aren’t alone. There are several performers who’ve yet to be recognized by Oscar — at various stages of overdue-ness — who might contend this year. Vote below on who you hope to hear announced on Jan. 24.