Is this the most competitive category of the season?
John Hurt, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Pro: Here we find yet another legendary actor who hasn't won Oscar (they seem to be coming out of the woodwork this season). A two-time nominee, Hurt was last nominated in 1981 for his startling performance as "The Elephant Man" (he lost to De Niro's "Raging Bull"). As master spy boss Control, Hurt has a splendid role to play with and he practicaly commands every scene he's in. No small feat when some of your co-stars are Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Ciarán Hinds. It's the sort of turn that reminds you just how talented Hurt still is.
Con: Early speculation has him behind Cumberbatch and Strong in this category. Once SAG and the Academy screen the picture? We'll see…