Eddie Redmayne won the award for best actor in a leading role at the 2015 Oscars for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne has long been considered a front-runner to win this award. Much of Redmayne's performance required him to act with limited mobility as he depicted the progression of Hawking's disease — something that the Academy was clearly quite impressed by. This is Redmayne's first nomination and his first win.
Though Redmayne's performance has been the focus of quite a bit of buzz since before the movie even came out, there were quite a few other great performances that he was up against. Steve Carell's transformative turn in Foxcatcher was a performance that critics couldn't stop talking about. Michael Keaton's performance in Birdman was about as reinvigorating for his career as it was for the character he played. And, you know, everyone loves Benedict Cumberbatch no matter what he does.