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Matthias Schoenaerts - 'Rust & Bone'
Pro: As a name many Academy members are unlikely to recognize – unless they watched last year's foreign film nominee “Bullhead” – red-hot Schoenaerts will be looking to benefit from the surprise-attack syndrome: voters might fire up their “Rust & Bone” screeners primarily to check out Marion Cotillard's Best Actress bid, only to be stunned by the brooding power of her co-star, whose performance is no less impressive than hers. If voters want to catch the wave early on a future star, this guy is the one.
Con: It's tough for any foreign-language performer to crack the nominee list, and tougher still for comparative unknowns – particularly given a character that many voters won't find entirely sympathetic. Something in Schoenaerts's swagger puts one in mind of Tom Hardy a few years back – but if he's still waiting for his first nod, the same probably goes for this beefy Belgian.
- Guy Lodge