Denzel Washington Launches into the Oscar Race for Best Actor

Todd McCarthy says about Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis’ Flight, “Onscreen for nearly the entire running time, Washington has found one of the best parts of his career in Whip Whitaker, a middle-age pilot for a regional Southern airline who knows his stuff and can still get away with behaving half his age. In the film’s raw opening scene, he’s lying in bed in Orlando at 7 a.m. after an all-night booze, drugs and sex marathon with a sexy flight attendant. With a little help from some white powder, he reassures her they will make their 9 o’clock flight for Atlanta.”

This is easily one of the best performances of the year and will be a strong contender to win the Best Actor race. He will have some competition, though, in Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln — which has to be among the best performances of all time, and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. These are probably the strongest three in the race as we head into the final months.

Denzel Washington is the kind of actor people know and love so much that he really can just go by the single name, Denzel. He commands the frame. Zemeckis keeps most of the movie tight on his face. His actions and motivations are a mystery and his performance, and Zemeckis’ direction elevate what would otherwise be a by-the-numbers drunk-to-rehab movie. But Denzel digs in deeply to the role, disappearing into it. He’s a liar and a drunk but somewhere in there is a good person, which is probably why you continue to root for him as his life is taking the same kind of plunge the airplane took — something wrong with the plane, the resourceful pilot saved it. Something wrong with the man? The resourceful part of him helps to save him. It’s an obvious metaphor but a powerful one. How they managed to find something new out of this oft-traveled road is remarkable.

The plane crash scene is the Zemeckis we all know well – except with visual effects and suspense. But the quieter scenes that expose who Whip Whitaker is might be the Zemeckis we don’t get to see enough of.

That brings the Best Actor race to this.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis and Lincoln- It’s improbable to me that he can win a third Oscar. But it’s even more improbable to imagine anyone else beating him. Though it’s a close call between him and Phoenix, and now, Washington, unless I see a better performance (I have yet to see John Hawkes in The Sessions) I don’t know how you can’t name Day-Lewis the winner. He’s like Sean Penn in Milk or Helen Mirren in The Queen — it’s just one of those improbably perfect performances that so closely mirrors a real life person you forget you’re watching an actor after a while. His walk, his voice, his manner, his jokes, his hair even – it has to be Day-Lewis’ best performance. It’s better than the two he’s won for. Nonetheless, it’s early yet and who knows what folks will make of the film. But for my purposes, I can’t not put him in the number one spot.

2. Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie in The Master – This is, to me, the most emotionally affecting performances I saw but beyond that, his physicality and strangeness seem to come from a primal place. To me, he’s Brando-like in this film – a creature from another world. He’s a concept. I suspect he will clean up at the critics awards, too, winning many Best Actor prizes long before it even gets to the Oscars. The only problem being that people are somewhat confused by the movie. I don’t know where this comes from but half of the people who see it seem to think that, no matter how many great reviews that have come out to declare it a masterpiece and to explain what it means — believe me, it doesn’t mean nothing.

3. Denzel Washington in Flight – I really think he could pull off the win for this performance. It will depend on how the movie is received overall but the power of this performance is one of the most powerful and it will likely stand out – it doesn’t hurt that Washington is so likable in the industry and has already won two Oscars.

4. John Hawkes from The Sessions – since I haven’t yet seen it, I’ll rely on Christy Lemire’s words, “the hugely versatile John Hawkes gives a subtly funny, impressive performance which must have been a massive physical challenge. The lanky but intimidating co-star of “Winter’s Bone” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is called upon here to act entirely with his face and voice, frequently having to keep his torso still while lying down in a contorted posture. Hawkes stars as Mark O’Brien, the Berkeley, Calif.-based poet and journalist whose 1990 article, “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” inspired the script. Lewin – who also contracted polio as a child – lays out the details of Mark’s daily existence in matter-of-fact fashion, and with zero condescension. He can breathe on his own for a few hours at a time, he can turn the pages of a book or dial a phone with a stick in his mouth, and while he can’t move anything from the neck down, he can still feel sensation.”

5. Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables – we make this assumption about a film we haven’t yet seen. But we’re holding his place in line in case this is finally it for Jackman – it sure looks like it might be.

6. Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock – the same thing applies. We only have the trailer to go on but it seems strong enough to put him into consideration here.

7. Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook – Cooper is wonderfully off the charts as the bi-polar lead who is trying to get a hold of his life. Like Dickie in David O. Russell’s last movie, he is tightly supported by his family and a good woman. It would have been easy for Cooper to slip into stereotype, but O. Russell is good with actors and finds the truth in what Cooper is feeling. His job is two-fold, because he also has to be the guy who is coming off of mania once the meds kick.

8. Richard Gere in Arbitrage. It’s Gere’s best performance in a brilliantly written suspense story about a very rich, very clever snake. In this way, he and Washington and Phoenix kind of come from a similar place – they are trying to get what they can however they can get it. But Gere has never been celebrated and that might help nudge him towards a nod.

The rest:
Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained – we still don’t know anything.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master – he may go supporting.
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour – would be lovely but a tough sell in a crowded category.
Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly – Pitt and Gandolfini are great in this. Needs good reviews.
Ben Affleck, Argo – he’s fantastic but he’ll likely get rewarded elsewhere.
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson – it’s an interesting, subtle take on FDR.
Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs – probably out since he’s so great and will be nominated for, if not win for, Lincoln.

58 Comments on this Post

  1. Will be fascinating to see the response Hawkes gets this week with THE SESSIONS. I will be checking it out this weekend. Every review so far mentions it is a great performance. None so far mention that it is the type of performance that will WIN the Oscar.

  2. I don’t think Denzel is a lock, if anything I see him fighting for the 5th spot.

    DDL and Phoenix are for sure. I think Hugh is gonna come sweeping in with guns blazing, he could pull of an Adrien Brody. And then I think Anothony Hopkins can’t be ignored, he’s a legend playing a legend the Academy nominated a few times. That to me leaves one spot for John Hawkes, Denzel, Bradly Cooper, and whoever else you want to throw down for the last spot.

    But then of course, I’m just predicting just as much as anyone else. Lol.

  3. rufussondheim

    Not sure if it’s among the best 5 of the year, but I really loved Ben Affleck in Argo which I just saw today. Sure, he’ll probably get nommed for director, but he is likely deserving of an acting nod as well.

  4. 1)Daniel Day Lewis-he will win for this
    2)Hugh Jackman-his performance looks really strong in this
    3)Joaquin Phoenix
    4)Anthony Hopkins
    5)Denzel Wahington-his comeback at the Oscars

    This is the second strongest race this year behind Best Picture. It sucks that alotta great performances will be left out
    this year.

  5. I still think this is Joaquin Phoenix’s to lose. He is still the frontrunner to DDL, Washington, Hawkes, Cooper, Jackman, etc.

  6. 3rd Oscar for Denzel? Not gonna happen. Training Day was a make-up for Malcolm X and he’s been pretty much one-note since, imo. He may be good enough for a nod, but there are better actors out there more deserving of a 3rd (or 1st) Oscar.

  7. Joaquin Phoenix should win as he has no Oscars and Denzel and Daniel both have 2 a piece. I mean, spread the love a bit. Especially when you have the chance to spread the love and vote for a deserving third-party candidate.

  8. AlecFPrice

    I agree that Pitt and Gandolfini are brilliant – and KILLING THEM SOFTLY got great reviews from the established critics when it was released in the UK last month. But as good as it is, it is far too bleak for the Academy and, truth be told, Pitt probably isn’t on screen enough to be a serious contender in the Best Actor race. He doesn’t appear until almost half an hour in and when he does he allows the other members of the cast to dominate many of his scenes, particularly Gandolfini. It’s great, textured work but part of what is really more of an ensemble piece.

  9. moviewatcher

    Wait, you’ve seen Lincoln? Where’s your review, Sasha? Best performance by DDL? Better than the ones he’s one for? My, god, this is getting serious.

    Is it a masterpiece? Is it Spielberg at his best? On par with AI? Schindler’s? Oh my god… Jaws? (I know you adore that movie). TELL US MORE!!! Do NOT keep us waiting!

  10. Yes please tell us about Lincoln!

  11. DDL-Respected and Charismatic
    Denzel Washington-Respected, Charismatic, and beloved
    Anthony Hopkins-Respected, Charismatic, and beloved
    John Hawkes-Respected but very unknown
    Hugh Jackman-Respected, and immensely charismatic
    Joaquin Phenix-Respected

    This is the breakdown of how the Academy sees all the potential nominees.

  12. 1. John Hawkes- the underdog, the Adrien Brody, playing disabled, Fox Searchlight, previous nominee
    2. Daniel Day Lewis
    3. Denzel Washington
    4. Joaquin Phoenix- how often does the best performance actually win? He’s on some Denirio/Brando level here, but it’ll be a well deserved, pleasant surprise
    5. Hugh Jackman

  13. moviewatcher

    Dan: How can DDL not be beloved by the academy? He’s got two oscars!

  14. And please tell us about Lincoln Sasha. Its my most anticipated movie coming up.

  15. They are NOT giving a THIRD Oscar to anybody this year, not after Merylgate last year.

    And “The Master” is dying at the box-office, and Joaquim Phoenix is playing a difficult unsympathetic character and he NEVER gets the audience on his side, IMHO. He’s also not a popular presence on the campaign trail. He won’t do much if anything, but then neither did Mo’nique.

    And she won.

    He SHOULD’VE won for “Walk the Line” not dizzy Ms. Witherspoon.

    SOMEbody big is gonna get left out this year and it COULD be him. AND over at the Gold Derby pundits are dropping off the Master from their ten best lists.

    BUT unliked and difficult as he and his character are, he’s got HARVEY.

    Now the only draw-back the great HW has is, as usual lately, he’s got TOOOOO many ponies in this show.

    Remember how he backed “Nine” to “Inglorious Basterds” detriment? If he had put his PUUUUUSH in to IB, well…the results might’ve been different. And he’s got Bradley Cooper in this category, too. It’s either one or the other for TWC. They won’t nominate BOTH of them and don’t be surprised if Cooper gets in and Joaquim doesn’t.

    And people don’t like the movie. As they ARE liking “Silver Linings Playbook.”

    And then there’s Hugh Jackman!

    SOME body shocking is gonna get left out in this race. There are only five slots.

  16. Antoinette

    On the red carpet someone told him there was Oscar buzz for him and he seemed happy about it, so I guess he wants another one. This could get interesting. Because we know he knows how to play the game.

    The rest:

    I was expecting the Professor and Mary Ann. :)

  17. AnthonyP

    He won’t win. Most likely Joaquin Phoenix.

  18. The subject matter of this popcorn movie isn’t lofty enough to garner my movie-spending money. I’ll pay to check out The Sessions & Silver Linings…

  19. moviewatcher,

    Yeah, DDL has two oscars, but I am talking about the public perception. DDL is not in the public arena except when he promotes a film. None of the actors I listed are people who crave the spotlight. When I say Washington is beloved it is because he is also an immensely important person to the African American community. Additionally, when they have those poles which list most popular/ favorite actor, Washington and Tom Hanks are always the top two. Give them meaty roles, and people will want to award them.

    Hopkins is beloved because he has the old master air about him. He is also said to be one of the most agreeable and easy to work with actors in the business. One need only look at his filmography to see the high volume of great directors he has worked with understand this. The films might not always be gold, but when he delivers, he delivers like no other.

    Joaquin Phoenix on a Brando/ De Niro level? That is the biggest load of BS ever. Yeah, he has given his share of great work (Gladiator, Walk the Line, the last James Gray film, and The Master), but by the time both Brando and De Niro were his age, they already had a dozen great performances. Whilst, The Master was definitely quality work, PSH overshadowed him.

  20. Joaquin Phoenix owns the Best Actor race this year. With or without campaigning, with or without Harvey!!!

    His win is inevitable.

  21. Tero Heikkinen

    This is gonna be an interesting year due to these multiple winners. The following could all get nominated again:

    Denzel (has 2), DDL (has 2), M. Smith (has 2), De Niro (has 2). In fact it looks like out of the 20 actors/actresses maybe just 2 or 3 will be first-time nominees even…

  22. Unlikely hood

    Jack’s list above is right. Hopkins is out. No one who has read the book will argue: the story of Hitchcock making Psycho just doesn’t have the requisite character arc/tragedy/pathos. Well, it might in another year.

    Not only is it DayLewisHawkesJackmanPhoenixWashington, but months from now, we’ll all be saying this category has been locked since October.

    Who will win I have no idea. I won’t bet against DDL, but I’ll probably hope for Jackman.

  23. I absolutely hate the Brando/De Niro comparisons, not because Phoenix is compared to them, but its annoying how people make out its only those two actors that are the benchmark for acting. Give me consistently great actors like Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall and Jeff Bridges anyday. Not you Sasha, but many critics always put it in their reviews for any good performance that comes out. I havent seen the Master yet but ive never been a Phoenix fan Ive always found him a bit of a ham.

  24. Why do you say it’s “improbable” that Day-Lewis can win a third Oscar but that Washington can? Frankly, I don’t think either will win this year, particularly due to “Merylgate” happening last year (as someone said earlier). It’s immensely difficult to win a third Oscar, regardless of the quality of the work, and Meryl had the gong ringing for nearly thirty years until she won that elusive Oscar. Yes, Washington and Day-Lewis are two of the most talented and respected names in the industry, but their previous wins WILL be taken into account. Not to mention that Washington’s last win was controversial since he bested Russell Crowe and won for a severely unsympathetic character that many in the African American community despised.

    I would say that Joaquin Phoenix is the frontrunner right now, although I do agree that The Master’s floundering box-office and polarizing responses from audiences won’t help him…at the same time it puzzles me that anyone would’ve expected it to be a crossover success, since PTA films hardly are. It has gained a prominent art-house crowd niche, however.

    But DON’T underestimate Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables. I think this will be the film event of the season and it’s an EPIC part. No actor has won for a musical since Rex Harrison for My Fair Lady (WTF?), but surely this could be it, considering his part is dramatically intense, vocally challenging, and physically demanding.

  25. I’ve only seen the trailer for Flight at this point but I have to say that watching Denzel in that trailer is what draws your attention. There is a thoughtfulness in this performance that has been missing in some of his recent performances. Even as much as I enjoyed his performance in Unstoppable this appears to surpass that as his best work in quite some time. It’s like getting back that Denzel from Philadelphia. That Denzel who contemplative and thoughtful and was able to communicate so much just from his facial expressions. And all that from a trailer. Denzel just makes the field a little more crowded and that’s not a bad thing and besides he’s a damn good actor.

  26. Daniel Day Lewis will win the Oscar. Just because it took Meryl that long to win a third, doesnt mean it will take Day Lewis that long. Everything doesnt work out in the same way. Meryl has never won for a while because almost every other year she is nominated, and they just think “oh maybe next time”. But Day Lewis doesnt put out as much work as her, and doesnt have a billion nominations. He comes in the game rarely, and when he does, he knocks it out of the park. Meryl also had to play a real life legend to win(not saying thats fully why she won, shes my favorite actress of all time, and she deserved it for that amazing performance), Day Lewis is playing LINCOLN! The great President Lincoln! It would almost be wrong of them not to award his performance of the so highly loved president.(shoot they may even feel like they are rewarding the actual president Lincoln by giving Day Lewis the oscar, he fully embodied him).

  27. You know what the difference between DDL, Denzel, and Meryl? DDL and Denzel only get nominated for great performances. Meryl gets nominated for mediocre work, after mediocre work, solely because there’s a dearth of talent amongst females, particularly lead ones. Meryl winning #3 for that HAM Sandwich she called Thatcher is laughable.

  28. Definitely know who I’m rooting for for sure. I like DDL and Phoenix was good, but Denzel for the win for me if this really is as good as I’m hearing it is.

  29. If you look at the past winners and nominees in both lead and supporting categories you don’t see many American Presidents. No one ever won for playing a President and only a few were nominated, here they are:
    – Raymond Massey playing Abraham Lincoln
    – James Whitmore playing Harry S. Truman
    – Anthony Hopkins playing Richard Nixon
    – Frank Langella playing Richard Nixon
    – Anthony Hopkins playing John Quincy Adams

    And that’s it. To be honest, there’s a hell of a lot more British Kings and Quenns nominated and awarded than American Presidents. So with that in mind DDL might not be a sho-in for the win like everyone says he is. The thing that probably helps is that he is in THE Lincoln movie, where the plot centers arround that character (for example “Frost/Nixon” wasn’t THE Nixon movie), but that might not be enough.

    At one point you have to start thinking about the fact that this would be a third one for DDL. No matter how great the actor and performance is, it’s still THE THIRD OSCAR and only a few chosen ones got there. Spreading the wealth is going to matter, especially when Denzel will also score a nod (I don’t see him winning a third one either).

    DDL won his second one by a landslide and with no actual threat from the competition. The only threat (if you can call it that) was Clooney for his good, but not great performance in “Michael Clayton”. But a few years back DDL had a close race with THE JACK. Remember what happened then? Let me just remind the line up:

    – DDL for GONY (would have been his second)
    – THE JACK for About Schmidt (would have been his fourth)
    – Michael Caine for Quiet American (would have been his third)
    – Nicholas Cage for Adaptation (would have been his second)
    – Adrien Brody for The Pianist (first time nominated)

    A simmilar thing can happen this year. If you get DDL and Denzel in the same group (add a little Hopkins if you will) you can be damn near certain they will cancel each other out, that’s my opinion. The THIRD Oscar (or even the second one) is a hard Oscar to get. Tom Hanks knows that, when he was beaten by Russell Crowe. Crowe got to know he’s no Tom Hanks, when he lost to Denzel the following year.

    My money’s on Phoenix for the win and I very much hope Cooper will make the final five.

  30. Tero Heikkinen

    “…with that in mind DDL might not be a sho-in for the win like everyone says he is.”

    I don’t think everyone is saying that. Most people seem to be Team Phoenix, and his chances might even go up when they have two nominees (DDL and Denzel) chasing Oscar #3, so they’ll deny both of them. I was not feeling it for Jackman before (his Wolverine image was not helping, but Affleck was Daredevil so fuck it), but I must now admit that he is probably among the five, and a possible spoiler if Les Mis delievers and sweeps. Then it will drag Actor along, with Hathaway still winning Supp. Actress. If it does all these things, hopefully I like the film personally – seeing as I really hated Chicago, but I am not a musical hater. No way. I own quite a few of them on Blu-ray even (at least ten major films). I like singing along.

  31. One more curious thing. Did you know that Steven Spielberg has never directed an Oscar winning performance?

  32. @Koles

    Also, 1944, Alexander Knox as Woodrow Wilson, he lost to Bing Crosby who starred in the musical Going My Way. This year, DDL as Lincoln losing to a guy starring in a musical?

  33. @James

    My bad, I missed that one. And I guess out of all of them, he had the biggest chances of winning. Back then a Golden Globe ment a helluva lot more than today. I don’t know too much about American history, but a story about a man steering USA through the turmoil of WWI seems very baity, especially at a time when WWII was slowly comming to an end.

    If that kind of stuff does not get you the Oscar then I don’t know what the hell does. Do a stuttering King or something :)

  34. I saw Going My Way more than a decade ago, I remember Bing Crosby crooning somewhere in the film, but it seems like it’s not a musical per se. Anyway, my bet is still on Hugh Jackman this year. Last season, they awarded best actor to someone who barely spoke in the film. Now, how can they resist an actor singing live.

  35. Question Mark

    I’ve got my ‘No Guts, No Glory’ prediction all lined up right now….Phoenix won’t be nominated for Best Actor. As others have noted in the thread, it’s a weird and unsympathetic role and Phoenix himself is a weird dude, even by Hollywood actor standards. So you have that working against him, plus the fact that The Master has been getting divided reviews. I’d also like to note that Phoenix will be hurt by the fact that he spends the whole movie acting alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, so he’s bound to suffer in comparison — I’m probably not alone in being more impressed by PSH’s performance than Phoenix’s.

    John Hawkes has quickly become one of my favourite actors over the last couple of years, thanks to his astonishing work in ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ and ‘Winter’s Bone,’ not to mention years of solid character work on TV. I would love to see him continue to be recognized and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do with a lead role in Sessions.

    I’ll put Washington, Hopkins and Jackman in the same boat as likely nominees but who could fall from consideration if their movies end up disappointing or being somewhat weightless. Of the three, I think Hopkins has the least chance at a nomination.

    DDL is a stone-cold lock for a nomination, sight unseen. Heck, he had a nomination wrapped up from the moment his casting was announced — there was no chance he wasn’t going to hit this role out of the park.

    Bradley Cooper has a solid shot as well. The “playing against type” and “rising above expectations” performances are always popular for Oscar voters, so if Cooper shows he can go beyond his usual character type, he has a good crack at a nomination, especially if the film also takes off.

    My picks for BA as of today are Day-Lewis, Washington, Cooper, Jackman and Hawkes.

  36. Well, I dunno. I just can’t force myself to got on that whole Jackman bandwagon. Baity role, baity movie, but when was the last time someone actually won the lead for an actual musical? Yul Brynner? Not many of these parts get nominated. You’ve got Johnny Depp filling the fifth spot and happy to be there and that’s it, no more. You’ll really have to dig deep to find another nominee like that. Roy Scheider maybe? Even the Globes are more likely to go for a comedy role rather than a musical one. Of course I’m not counting those hilarious comedies like “Ray” and “Walk the Line” because they sure as shit aren’t musicals – a song in a movie does not make it a musical.

    I’ve got nothing against Jackman and he has proven on many occasions that he can sing. But I’m just not sure if the Academy will go for the movie. It might share the same fate as “Phantom of the Opera”.

    Phoenix not making the cut is not exacly a NGNG pick. I see that happening the same as him winning the Oscar. But we’ll have that sorted out the moment the first critics awards land. If he get’s recodnised from the very beginning he is in and gunning for the top spot. If he misses out with the critics, not even the SAG can save him (just like Leo in “J. Edgar”). My NGNG here would be an out of the blue nod for an european movie, something like Omar Sy, Mads Mikkelsen or Matthias Schoenaerts. I wanted to mention Jean-Louis Trintignant, but he’s not NGNG, he’s very well in the game. He’ll probably not win any critics’ awards, but if he gets a BAFTA nod he might make the cut.

    Interesting year. But at this point of the reace it’s allways interesting :).

  37. Boy, I never considered Wasington for a win or even a nod. But after reading rumblings here and there I’m stoked to see the movie. Never judge a performance based on how the trailer was edited…

  38. rufussondheim

    I’m really tired of people bringing up Phantom of the Opera when discussing Jackman/Les Miz. The ninety second clip of Hathaway singing in the Les Miz trailer is better than anything in either the stage production or film version of Phantom of the Opera.

  39. Unlikely hood

    Question Mark makes a case, and obviously if The Master and Phoenix win no pre-awards I’ll be inclined to agree. But I doubt that outcome.

    I think Bradley Cooper is going to get Leonardo DiCapriod – not just for titanic, but most of his great perfs. In years past Sasha has floated the theory that it’s harder for young attractive guys to get nom’d for lead actor…whether or not that’s true, seems like there’s always 5 men that impress the academy more. If Leo can miss for Inception, if Joseph Fiennes can miss for Shakespeare in Love (the operative comparison, per sasha a week ago), then Cooper can miss here. I don’t see how he can eliminate any of this top 6 (my above-predicted plus Hopkins).

  40. “I’m really tired of people bringing up Phantom of the Opera when discussing Jackman/Les Miz.”

    Perhaps they make the connection because they think that all 80’s musicals were written by the same person, y’know, like Purple Rain, Billie Jean, and Girls Just Want to Have Fun were all written by the same person.

  41. rufussondheim

    Well, to be fair, steve, they arrived on Broadway one year apart, and both have ridiculously long Broadway runs (and both started in London I believe)

    But that’s really where the comparison ends. One actually is great, the other is middling to poor.

  42. Phantom of the Opera is a love story with elements of a thriller (for musical theatre). Les Miserables maintains Hugo’s analysis of the shortcomings of society (women’s rights/abuse, democracy, laws that make it so a reformed man doesn’t become a pariah, and the flaws of laws with no perspective). Yeah, it is a musical version of that, but it still has so much going on.

  43. Day-Lewis won’t win and it has nothing to do with Meryl. Or Hepburn. Or Bergman. Or Nicholson. When you mention Streep, Hepburn, Nicholson – you mention BELOVED actors and Hollywood icons. And Day-Lewis isn’t a Hollywood icon. He’s a respected actor, but I wouldn’t call him a legend. And a third Oscar is extremely rare. Day-Lewis isn’t there yet. And to actually build momentum he needs the critics and they’ll go with Phoenix, I suppose. And it didn’t take only Meryl that long to win a third. Nicholson, Streep, Hepburn were in their 60’s when they won their third Oscars. Bergman was 59. And they had a lot of iconic performances behind them. Day-Lewis has 5-6 performances that are usually mentioned. And it matters because Lincoln is likely to have supporters but it’s most likely to have lots of detractors. More than any other of the five. And another thing: for Day-Lewis it’s too soon. He won five years ago. Yes, it shouldn’t matter. But it does. And after all Phoenix deserves it. If not him, I could see both Hawkes and Jackman taking it.

  44. Sasha Stone

    And please tell us about Lincoln Sasha. Its my most anticipated movie coming up.

    Not really allowed to write a review yet but I will say that it’s a departure for Spielberg because it’s a procedural. It’s not Amistad-like because it isn’t that melodramatic or flat. The strength in the film is in the subject – as in, there were talented caretakers of Lincoln’s image and they are, mainly, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Spielberg, Tony Kushner and Daniel Day-Lewis. Their combined appreciation for Lincoln is probably why it has such a strong, beating heart. As I said, Day-Lewis is just insanely good as Lincoln. It’s politics-wonky, for sure. It’s not a movie for people who don’t want to think. It’s not a heavily sentimental movie either as Spielberg’s films usually are and it doesn’t a lot of sweeping shots, or any, of the civil war. The film’s opening is Spielberg’s best since Jaws, although much more subtle. Spielberg’s pretty good at opening shots, though. I’m remembering Raiders and Jurassic Park having great opening shots. The script is very dense and Spielberg does not dumb it down. It is not for the target demo, probably, as they will be looking for something more amped and energized. This film takes its time. Every performance is good but the standouts are Sally Field as Mary — portraying the May Lincoln most people don’t know, and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. It is among my favorites of the year — I haven’t picked my number one yet but Lincoln will be way up there.

  45. “The film’s opening is Spielberg’s best since Jaws, although much more subtle.”

    If a sentence like that gives you a lump in your throat, you might be a movielover.

  46. Merylgate… LMAO!

    Well, we all have to wait and see how things will turn out.
    The Academy loves biopics (except J.Edgar or Amelia) so much, in Meryl’s case they even didn’t give a sh*t who directed it.
    But Spielberg is pretty respected in the Academy, although none of his actors has ever won Oscars for their performances in his films.
    That could change any day and although no one’s locked for a win right now, DDL is in a good position.
    But if Les Miz becomes HUGE, watch out for Jackman.

  47. Eoin Daly

    Sasha are Field and Jones better then Lewis and could all three of them win?

  48. moviewatcher

    Sasha: Oh… my… freaking… god… I’m “mouthwatering” right now…

  49. So Day-Lewis gives the best performance of his career (quite a bold statement) and the standouts are Field and TLJ? Now I’d pay to see that!

  50. @ Helios – So Day-Lewis gives the best performance of his career (quite a bold statement)

    ****

    I can see it. This is DDL’s most serious role to date. There was great pressure on him. But most Oscarologists who have seen it including Sasha loved the film and DDL. After trailers some complained about voice but it is interesting that there are not (?) any voice complains in early reviews.
    So, I belive that Lincoln can be DDL’s best performance. Time will show.

  51. Here’s how I see it, ranked 1-7 for likeliest nominees/win:

    1 – DDL – crazy respect, great reviews, biopic performance, likely BP nom.
    2 – Jackman – will likely campaign hard, and he probably doesn’t have to. It’s the biggest role he’s ever had. And if he executes, watch out.
    3 – Phoenix – he has the buzz now, will he months from now?
    4 – Denzel – respect, box office, great reviews.
    5 – Hawkes – amazing reviews, prior nom, small film.
    —————-
    6 – Hopkins – he and the film could be amazing or a joke.
    7 – Cooper – likely BP frontrunner or not, I simply don’t think he has the respect to eeek into top 5, but we’ll see. It’s close.

  52. Thank you Sasha:)

  53. I don’t know if DDL can top his performance in There will Be Blood, but I know that Phoenix topped it. He’s my pick for who SHOULD win best actor

    Denzel is one of my acting heroes, so it’d be great to see him nominated. He doesn’t diverge far from himself when he plays a role, he does subtle characterization, and always grounds it with his own swagger and personality. There’s not a lot of white actors out there for some reason who has real swagger. The new generation of actors is sure to change that, since many are now growing up on hip hop.

  54. Shawn Edwards

    In many ways this may be Denzel Washington’s strongest performance of his career. He’s SOLID without ever going over the top once. But he and Daniel Day Lewis both have two Oscars. They will cancel each other out so the WIN will more than likely go to Joaquin Phoenix. But Washington is fantastic! We’ll see about Daniel Day-Lewis in a few.

  55. LaQuifa Wadley

    Will this year be the first where more than one actor would win their 3rd? DDL, DW, SF, BA (directing and producing?) SS 3rd Director oscar. I think we can all agree that the big dogs are all back in play. Last year it was just George, Brad, Meryl, Viola, and Glenn. Most were first time nominees.

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