Like Best Director, and all the categories at this point for that matter, we're doing a lot of speculation as several titles have not yet been seen with Lincoln, Les Miserables, Flight, Hitchcock, Django Unchained and Promised Land being six I'm particularly keeping an eye on when it comes to these two categories.
Let's take a look...
At this moment I have a hard time placing anyone over Joaquin Phoenix for his performance in The Master.
I know most will go straight for Daniel Day-Lewis and his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln sight unseen and I can't blame them. It's a performance of a historical figure from a talented actor and the Academy eats those up. Yet, coming out of The Master most are praising Phoenix's performance and Steven Spielberg's track record in the acting department isn't great.
An actor hasn't been nominated for an Oscar in a Spielberg-directed film since Christopher Walken in 2002's Catch Me If You Can and, believe this, no actor has ever won an Oscar in a Spielberg-directed film. Of course, there are a few responses to that... 1.) He's due to direct a winner and 2.) Spielberg has never directed Daniel Day-Lewis. I think we all fully expect Lewis to be nominated, but at this point, having seen The Master and still waiting to see Lincoln, I'm going with what I know... for now.
Denzel Washington comes in third for me and after my comments on Flight yesterday I'm sure that doesn't surprise many of you. I have a feeling this is going to be our one big surprise of the season, that is unless you think of Hitchcock as a surprise.
Hitchcock, at the very least, is a surprise late entry and it's late addition is the reason I throw Anthony Hopkins directly into the top five. After all, Fox has to have added this to the release schedule at such a late date for a reason... right?
Finally, John Hawkes crushes it in The Sessions, which not only boasts great performances, but a great film overall and one I expect, at this time, to come away with more than just one nomination. That is, if we're living in a just world.
Now just below the bubble line I have actors that include Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Ben Affleck (Argo) and Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), the latter of which is one I can't quite figure out if it will be a film to challenge in all categories or avoid the acting categories.
It's been so long since, I'd say, we've seen a truly great musical that I can't quite put my finger on what the Academy will do. They did, however, nominate Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which I would argue was the last solid musical we've had and before that Chicago, which boasted four acting nominations and one win (Catherine Zeta-Jones). So there is some precedence, but my lack of familiarity with Les Miserables is going to force me to wait until I (and others) have seen it.
That said, I have added my first predictions for Best Actor directly below and you can see my full field of 16 contenders right here.
- Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
- Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
- Denzel Washington (Flight)
- Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock)
- John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Click over the Page 2 for a look at Best Supporting Actor...