Since breaking through in the 2008 British drama 'Amazing Grace', Benedict Cumberbatch has gone from strength to strength, balancing acclaimed dramas ('12 Years a Slave', 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy') with big franchises ('Star Trek', 'The Hobbit') and even reinventing a TV cop thriller ('Sherlock').

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in 'The Imitation Game'
Cumberbatch stars alongside Keira Knightley in 'The Imitation Game' 

Benedict Cumberbatch won an Emmy this year for 'Sherlock', and he's been nominated for four TV Baftas, but he's never had any attention from Oscar voters. This is about to change with the release of 'The Imitation Game', for which he is considered certain to get a nomination if not walk off with the statuette come the big night next February.

More: Watch a clip from 'The Imitation Game' here

'The Imitation Game' is a biographical thriller about Alan Turing, the British genius who essentially invented the computer in an effort to crack the Nazis' complex Enigma code, an accomplishment that turned the tide of the war. But Turing's story turns darkly dramatic after that, when he was charged with the then-criminal offence of homosexuality.

More: Is Benedict Cumberbatch Related To His 'The Imitation Game' Character Alan Turing?

It's hard to imaging Oscar voters missing both the intense relevance of this role and the potent complexity of Cumberbatch's performance. But competition is fierce this year: other leading contenders include fellow Brits David Oyelowo ('Selma'), Eddie Redmayne ('The Theory of Everything'), Timothy Spall ('Mr. Turner') and Ralph Fiennes ('The Grand Budapest Hotel'), plus Michael Keaton ('Birdman'), Steve Carell ('Foxcatcher') and Jake Gyllenhaal ('Nightcrawler').