Representing one of the most heated Oscar races in years, the Academy Award lead actor nominees announced Thursday are
Competition in the category is so fierce that two of Hollywood's iconic leading men failed to earn nominations, despite giving performances widely regarded as among the finest in their careers:
Bale's nomination for his role as the schlubby Bronx con artist Irving Rosenfeld in director
Dern was nominated for his performance as Woody Grant, an old curmudgeon chasing a dubious sweepstakes prize in director
Reached by phone at his home in Pasadena, the 77-year-old actor said he got word of the nomination from his wife and his business partner. "I was coming down my hallway to get to the — as I say in 'Nebraska' — the latrine," Dern said, and the two women "came chugging down the hall toward me, dancing deliriously, and I was really excited because I realized we must have done well." ("Nebraska" tallied six nominations in all.)
This is Dern's second Academy Award nomination; his first was back in 1978, for his supporting role in "Coming Home."
DiCaprio, 39, was nominated for his performance as the unscrupulous stockbroker Jordan Belfort in director
Ejiofor, 36, was nominated for his performance as Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery in director
McConaughey, a fellow first-time nominee, was nominated for his performance as Ron Woodroof, an
In addition to Hanks' and Redford's, other performances passed over this year include
The 86th Academy Awards will be presented March 2 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.