BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - The nominees for this year's best actor Oscar are Christian Bale for "American Hustle," Bruce Dern for "Nebraska," Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Wolf of Wall Street," Chiwetel Ejiofor for "12 Years a Slave," and Matthew McConaugheyfor "Dallas Buyers Club."
Veteran actor Bruce Dern, 77, earned his second Oscar nomination with his lead role in "Nebraska," in which he plays an aging, booze-addled father who makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar prize. He was previously nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in the 1978 film "Coming Home." Dern got his start in several Western-themed films in the 1960s and 1970s, and memorable roles for him include "The Cowboys" and "The King of Marvin Gardens," both 1972, and 1974's "The Great Gatsby."
Leonardo DiCaprio, 39, earned his fourth acting Oscar nod for his role in "The Wolf of Wall Street," a Martin Scorsese directed film based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. Steadily working as a child actor since his teens, he has been an A-list film star for nearly two decades. His first nomination was for best supporting actor for the 1993 film "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." Two best actor nominations followed, for 2004's "The Aviator," and 2006's "Blood Diamond," and as a producer on "The Wolf of Wall Street," he is nominated this year in the best picture category. Other blockbuster films he has appeared in include 1997's "Titanic," 2002's "Gang's of New York" and "Catch Me if You Can," 2006's "The Departed," 2010's "Inception," and 2012's "Django Unchained."
First time nominee and relative newcomer Chiwetel Ejiofor, 36, is nominated for his lead role in "12 Years a Slave." which tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, who is abducted and sold into slavery. The film is based on Northup's account and was produced by Brad Pitt (who appears briefly in the film) and directed by Steve McQueen, who is nominated for best director. Ejiofor has been steadily acting in film, theater, and television in his native Britain, and has had notable roles in 1997's "Amistad," 2002's "Dirty Pretty Things," 2005's "Serenity" and "Kinky Boots," and 2006's "Children of Men."
And rounding out the category is front-runner and first-time nominee Matthew McConaughey, 44, who has swept all the major acting awards this season for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club." A biopic set in 1985 Dallas, the film stars McConaughey as electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof, who works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease. The film has been a breakout success story, garnering awards and attention from various film festivals, and has represented a turnaround for McConaughey's career as a serious film actor, as he is previously known for romantic comedies like 2003's "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and 2006's "Failure to Launch."
The 86th Annual Academy Awards will be handed out in a live telecast ceremony held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, March 2nd.