Steve’s Oscar Predictions, Part 2: Best Actor

Best Actor Nominations (odds of winning):

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) (5 to 4)

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) (15 to 1)

Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) (20 to 1)

Denzel Washington (Flight) (30 to 1)

Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) (30 to 1)

DDL Milkshakes

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

The Academy always has Best Actor as the final acting award of the evening, but I’m going to include it now and save the more intriguing categories for later. This one is a done deal. No one is going to beat DDL and that is alright. His portrayal of Lincoln is incredible. It is all the more impressive when compared to his Oscar-winning and scenery-chewing performance as Daniel Plainview in 2007’s There Will Be Blood. He plays Lincoln with a quiet strength. Even when Abe gets angry, it is a quiet, determined anger. Great stuff, indeed.

The only hope for the other four nominees is a huge, totally unforeseen surprise. Such things have happened at the Oscars, but not this time. Bradley Cooper has the best shot at an upset if there is a Weinstein-fueled landslide for Silver Linings Playbook. If anyone can pull off such a thing it is Harvey Weinstein. He’s managed it before, but if I were Cooper I wouldn’t bother working on a speech. If Jackman wins he’ll really have a reason to break out in song, but he would need a Les Mis sweep, which is much less likely than one for SLP. I can’t imagine Washington or Phoenix having any chance at all because Denzel is flying solo at these awards and The Master has absolutely no momentum to help Joaquin out.

Given the one-sidedness of this race, it’s a good time to engage in a little Oscar fantasy. So, if Lincoln hadn’t been released in 2012, what would have happened in this category? For starters, there’s a good chance it would have meant a nomination for John Hawkes in The Sessions. (I’m still looking forward to seeing that one.) He may have even had a shot at winning because roles involving physical disabilities have proven to be Oscar-gold in the past. However, he would have had stiff competition since portraying alcoholism and mental illness can also gain an actor that coveted statue. Washington, as the alcohol and cocaine fueled pilot in Flight, did present his usual strong performance. It is easy to take such a role over the top, but he resisted that temptation. Cooper was impressive in creating a likable character while presenting the difficult bipolar mood swings. I was not overly impressed with Phoenix’s performance. I thought there was a little too much bluster and way too much mumbling. So, I think Hugh Jackman would pull off the win, despite the fact that Hooper’s direction was less than actor-friendly. We’ll never know.

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