Anthony Hopkins

Hitchcock’s original 6-minute trailer for Psycho, after the cut.

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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.

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Over at Gold Derby, Tom O’Neil has seen Lincoln and says the Oscar for Best Actor is over:

Move over, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Walter Brennan and Ingrid Bergman. Daniel Day-Lewis is about to join you in the pantheon of Oscar’s second-biggest winners. After previous Academy Award victories for “My Left Foot” (1989) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007), Day-Lewis is now a shoo-in to win for “Lincoln.” He’ll soon be just one statuette shy of four-time champ Katharine Hepburn.

His “Lincoln” rules the screen with authority. It seems like a cinch to be nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Sally Field) and Adapted Screenplay (Tony Kushner), in addition to Best Actor. There’s also an excellent chance that Tommy Lee Jones is nominated as firebrand abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and that Spielberg’s usual team of craftsman will probably score nods too: composer John Williams, film editor Michael Kahn and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. It also may reap bids for art direction and costumes.

As of now, Day-Lewis’ biggest competition is Joaquin Phoenix’s career-best turn in The Master. Given that Day-Lewis has already won two Oscars and Phoenix none I’m giving the edge to Phoenix. But I haven’t yet seen Lincoln so I can’t say for sure. The other name that is bound to cause a stir is Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables. Although he’ll be singing the whole time it already looks like astonishing work.

And then there’s Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock (one Oscar), and Denzel Washington in Flight. Washington has also won two Oscars but only one lead Oscar. He’s such a great actor and there has long been the complaint that when he played good characters he was snubbed but when he played a drug dealer, against type, that’s when he won the Oscar. The against-type thing is a killer every time.

And then there’s Jamie Foxx for Django Unchained. And John Hawkes for The Sessions. Richard Gere for Arbitrage. You can see Best Actor is filling up fast.  But if Day-Lewis or Tommy Lee Jones wins they will make history as the first actors every to win starring in a Spielberg movie.

An aside: Lincoln is the movie with the actors with three names: Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jackie Earle Haley.

Looks like Anthony Hopkins will throw his hat in the ring for Best Actor, as Fox Searchlight has just announced Hitchcock will open on November 23. Directed by Sacha Gervasi, written by John McLaughlin, the pic is based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello and stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, James D’Arcy, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow, Kurtwood Smith.

This obviously thrusts Anthony Hopkins into the already crowded Best Actor category:

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln (2X winner)
Denzel Washington, Flight (1X winner in lead)
Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained (1 time winner in lead)
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock

And so it goes. What remains to be seen of that list could include Scarlett Johannson, Helen Mirren, Danny Huston – you name it. I for one cannot wait.

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