The big deal about this category this is year is that all five nominees are previous winners. That makes, as you might imagine, a pretty boring list of nominees when you consider the most interesting roles of the year like Dwight Henry in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike and Michael Fassbender in Prometheus were all left out.
It's very difficult to know who's going to win out of the men who were actually nominated. Tommy Lee Jones, who wins the heart of everyone who watches Lincoln, seemed to be the front-runner. He actually won the SAG award. But he also didn't manage to win either the Golden Globe or the BAFTA, making this a wide open category.
Some are saying this could go to Robert De Niro, who give his first good performance in ages in Silver Linings Playbook. The fact that he has spent the past two decades phoning it in in such terrible movies as Limitless and Little Fockers could either help or hurt him. People could either be excited he's back or maybe they'll feel as uncomfortable as I would feel if De Niro won a third Oscar after so many lackluster years when it took Meryl Streep decades of great work to get hers.
Among the other nominees, it would be on account of the love for Argo if Alan Arkin managed a win. And then, you have the Academy's tendency to nominate lead roles in supporting categories. Philip Seymour Hoffman may be really good and have tons of screen time in The Master, but that seems to be a fairly unpopular movie with the Academy... However, there's Christoph Waltz, who is also pretty much the co-lead of Django Unchained and already won the Golden Globe and BAFTA. Waltz's performance is highly derivative of his brilliant work in Inglourious Basterds, I can't hardly see why people are falling head over heels for his performance, but by God are people in love with his Dr. King Schultz.
Will Win: Christoph Waltz
Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones