Birdman‘s Michael Keaton isn’t exactly a great, screeching, large-winged bird (I know — a lazy analogy), but he’s been at the top of the Best Actor list so long he may as well be. The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne is the puppy everyone wants to pat and hug and nominate for transforming himself into a contorted, bespectacled, wheelchair-bound guy we’ve all been reading and thinking about for decades. Selma‘s David Oyelowo is a kind of oratorical stallion — an avatar or carrier of a spirit that has been in the air for 50-odd years. The Imitation Game‘s Benedict Cumberbatch is a kind of distingushed genius otter, as Cumberbatch himself with tell you, with a special sway over the ladies. Nightcrawler‘s Jake Gyllenhaal is a kind of grinning nocturnal lizard, claws out, tongue flicking. Foxcatcher‘s Steve Carell is an exhausted wildebeest who’s falling behind in the herd and terrified of approaching predators. Bird, puppy, stallion, otter, lizard, wildebeest…check.