No one has won three Best Actor awards. Not Tracy, not Gable, not Olivier, not Bogart, not Nicholson (he has won three, but one was supporting). Will there be any hesitation from voters on checking off Day-Lewis’ name, in that, at 55, he’s not old enough or megastar enough to have made history?
Probably not. He certainly deserves it. Had he only won one Oscar he’d be as much as a slam dunk as he was for There Will Be Blood. But part of me holds out a sliver of possibility that someone could create a gasp-worthy moment that will rock Oscar nerds’ worlds.
Who would it be? I see two possibilities. One is Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. He seems to Mr. Nice Guy, and the role was an arduous one, plus he can sing! If anyone wavers on anointing Day-Lewis as the Best Actoriest actor of all time, they may stray to Jackman.
Or Bradley Cooper, for Silver Linings Playbook. Ten years ago, the best actor category was made up of four men who had won Oscars, and the upset winner was the new guy, Adrien Brody. There might be a movement toward Cooper, who had lots of big moments in the film, and is a star on the rise.
Beyond those three, I don’t see anyone else winning. Joaquin Phoenix has garnered a lot of critical praise for The Master, though I found him nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying. If the award is for most acting, he would get it. Phoenix getting nominated should to rest the theory that talking bad about the Oscars hurts you. He, like Mo’Nique a few years ago, blasted the whole campaigning aspect of it. She won; he won’t.
Last is Denzel Washington, for Flight. I liked his performance very much, but it’s highly doubtful that he would win his third Oscar for this role, in a film that didn’t really take off (pardon the pun). Actors playing drunks win a lot of Oscars, but not this year.
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Could win: Hugh Jackman
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should have been nominated: John Hawkes, The Sessions