Between 1993 and 2012, Daniel Day-Lewis has made nine movies, four of which granted him an Academy Award nomination. He actually won for There Will Be Blood in 2008. His ratio is better than any other living actor and it’s about to tie with Jack Nicholson and Walter Brennan (a performer from the 30’s) for the most wins. The guy is so good, competing against him is borderline pointless.
This is how the Best Actor race will go down:
Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. Doubtlessly Cooper’s best performance to date, the actor is ill-served by a plot that magically cures his mental imbalance. With love (this movie sends all the wrong messages). At least he got to prove he is more than People magazine’s sexiest man alive. Odds: 10 to 1.
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. Facing the titanic task of portraying the most iconic of all American presidents, Daniel Day-Lewis made the character his own, as opposed to mimicking the historic figure. The film is a bore, and as riveting as the actor is, Spielberg’s grandstanding is unbearable. The only way Day-Lewis could lose is if the Academy considers it’s too early for him to match Jack Nicholson. Odds: 1 to 2.
Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables. Lost for most of his career in thankless commercial vehicles, Jackman is in his element in Les Misérables. Unfortunately, his theatre background translates into overacting in the big screen. Still, Wolverine is the dark horse in this category. Odds: 8 to 1.
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. As maddening a movie as The Master is, Phoenix go-for-broke performance justifies his year-long emotional breakdown. Phoenix is the only actor of the group operating at the same level than Day-Lewis. Sadly, he shot himself in the foot by comparing the Academy Awards to a carrot. Odds: 4 to 1.
Denzel Washington in Flight. Preternaturally reliable, Washington is okay as the alcoholic antihero of the piece, but his performance is the most conventional of the group. Lacks the chutzpah factor. Odds: 25 to 1.
Should Win: Phoenix. Will win: Day-Lewis.