A handful of actors have been nominated for Oscars playing U.S. presidents. Jeff Bridges played a fictional one in The Contender, Alexander Knox was nominate for playing the president in Wilson, and Anthony Hopkins has been nominated twice: as Nixon, and John Quincy Adams in Amistad. Raymond Massey was nominated playing the title role in Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Despite being depicted in several films over the years, no one has ever been nominated for playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I’m still waiting patiently for the Chester Alan Arthur Story.
Lincoln and Roosevelt are both the lead characters in two prominent films coming out this winter. It’s entirely possible both actors will be nominated, competing against each other. A Lincoln-Roosevelt debate would be quite something, although I have a feeling they’d agree on most issues.
Here’s my humble hunches on who will be nominated for Best Actor this year. In alphabetical order:
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook): His star has been rising ever since The Hangover, and this would be a big move from lead in unsophisticated comedies to Oscar bait. It helps that he plays someone crazy. Will be helped if the film continues to gather good press.
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln): Unless this movie is a complete disaster, it’s hard to come with a scenario where Day-Lewis is not nominated. The trailer mostly has Lincoln looking glum, which is natural, given the circumstances of what happened during his administration, but I hope Spielberg has also included Lincoln’s humor.
John Hawkes (The Sessions): Here’s my pick for the winner. Hawkes, a well-regarded actor who has been nominated once already, plays a man stricken with polio who hires a sex surrogate. If there’s anything more Oscar-y than crazy, it’s physically disabled.
Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock): The move to push up the release of this film shakes up the Oscar race. Academy voters love impersonations, and Hopkins as the Master of Suspense sounds like something they can’t pass up. And who could imagine the same actor could play both Hitchcock and Nixon?
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master): As much as I hated this performance–I think it deserve a Razzie, not an Oscar–if the film gets traction in the Oscar race voters will likely mistake the most acting for the best acting.
Richard Gere (Arbitrage)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Bill Murray (Hyde Park on Hudson) as FDR
Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour)
Denzel Washington (Flight)