HOLLYWOOD—Well its official, the 87th Annual Academy Awards are less than 3 weeks away, so its time to start predicting who the victors will be in some of the major categories. Normally, I’d break-down each category, but this year, there are front-runners in the Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress race that I would be speechless if they didn’t take home Oscar gold. I’m talking about you Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons and Julianne Moore.

However, there are some races that might be a bit more competitive than we think: Best Director, Best Picture and Best Actor. This week we focus our attention on the Best Actor race. While many have made the argument that this is a two-person race between Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything” and Michael Keaton for “Birdman,” they need to watch out for Bradley Cooper. I’ll explain more on his role later.

First up, both Benedict Cumberbatch “The Imitation Game” and Steve Carell “Foxcatcher” should be honored to be in the category. There were literally tons of actors who could have nabbed spots in this race. Cumberbatch delivers an evoking performance, but the notoriety of the movie is not as big or lauded as some of his competition.

Carell is a nominee for delivering a transformative performance audiences have never seen from the comedian. He is wickedly scary as John Du Pont, but I’d argue he was more of a supporting character than a lead character. When the Academy sees something they haven’t seen before from an actor, a nomination is always a strong possibility.

Let’s focus now on Redmayne who is considered the front-runner. He already took home the Golden Globe and SAG award, so can he be stopped? Yes, but it’ll be tough. His performance as Stephen Hawking is beyond a transformation, its gripping. Academy voters love when an actor ‘transforms’ into the character not only figuratively, but literally. Its one of those roles that simply screams Oscar.

His competition is underdog, Michael Keaton who is getting a reboot to his acting career. I’d say his rebirth is similar to what Mickey Rourke saw with his performance in “The Wrestler.”  People are rooting for the underdog, there is just one slight problem; it’s a guy named Bradley Cooper.

Cooper missed out on nominations for the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards, but nabbed an Oscar nomination for his unflinching portrayal of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.” His performance is beyond awesome to me, it’s unforgettable. Not only is the movie a massive commercial success, but a critical one as well. This is going to force many in the Academy to take notice of the movie and seriously think twice before casting that ballot. What was certain a duel between Redmayne and Keaton is now a three-person race in my opinion. Redmayne is the odds on favorite, Keaton is the underdog and Cooper is a serious dark-horse.

Remember in 2003 how everyone was certain Jack Nicholson would win best Actor for “About Schmidt,” but it instead went to Adrien Brody for “The Pianist.” Well we could see one of those surprises this year, and in my honest opinion it makes a fun Oscar race. Bet your money on Redmayne for the naysayers, but I have to toss my vote to Cooper. No matter how controversial “American Sniper” is, Cooper delivers a performance audiences will be talking about for years, and it haunts you far after leaving the movie theater.