tom_hanks_captain_phillipsFor the past two years, Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis joined a very small group of actors that have won three Academy Awards.  Streep won two Oscars in Lead Actress for “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady” and won in Supporting Actress for “Kramer vs. Kramer.”  Day-Lewis has the most Lead Actor wins in history.  He won for “My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood,” and last year for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”  Most bloggers and film lovers always cite the fact that a person has won already and Oscar may be hesitant to reward them again.  Since the 2000’s, we have seen an interesting trend in the Lead Actor category.  I would say, it really doesn’t matter anymore.  If they love the performance, they’ll vote for you.  Sometimes being “overdue” comes into effect but they have no shame in letting Peter O’Toole retire with no Oscar and it’s the same reason Albert Finney still has nothing to his name.

Look at the last thirteen years:

2000Russell CroweGladiator1st Oscar winWON BP
2001Denzel WashingtonTraining Day2nd Oscar wonNot Nominated BP
2002Adrien BrodyThe Pianist1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2003Sean PennMystic River1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2004Jamie FoxxRay1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2005Philip Seymour HoffmanCapote1st Oscar wonNominated BP
2006Forest WhitakerThe Last King of Scotland1st Oscar wonNot Nominated BP
2007Daniel Day-LewisThere Will Be Blood2nd Oscar wonNominated BP
2008Sean PennMilk2nd Oscar wonNominated BP
2009Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart1st Oscar wonNot Nominated BP
2010Colin FirthThe King’s Speech1st Oscar wonWON BP
2011Jean DujardinThe Artist1st Oscar wonWON BP
2012Daniel Day-LewisLincoln3rd Oscar wonNominated BP

The correlation between Best Picture and Best Actor is staggering. Only three actors in thirteen years have won Best Actor without their films being nominated for Best Picture.  You can make the argument that Jeff Bridges, who had four prior Oscar nods before then, was just deemed overdue.  Same for Washington who had lost terribly for “Malcolm X.”  They just wanted throw them a bone.  Forest Whitaker was the benefit of delivering a staggering performance in a film that was not as embraced by Oscar.  I’m surprised quite frankly.

brucedern_nebraskaIn my latest round of predictions, prior to announcing Steve Carell and possibly Leonardo DiCaprio were out of the race, both Bruce Dern and Robert Redford are predicted to be Oscar nominees for their upcoming performances in “Nebraska” and “All is Lost.”  At this time, their films aren’t predicted to be nominated in any other category.  From a nominee stand point, the last time we had two actors as the only nominees for their films in Lead Actor was 2007 (Tommy Lee Jones for “In the Valley of Elah” and Viggo Mortensen for “Eastern Promises”), and neither of them won.  Coincidently, both Dern and Redford’s films are playing the same day at NYFF.  Interesting.

Tom Hanks, magnificent in Paul Greengrass‘ “Captain Phillips” delivers his crowning work of his career.  Authentic and real, Hanks proves why he’s one of the best American actors in the history of cinema.  I thoroughly believe it’s a turn that could score the two-time Oscar winner, another gold statue.  It’s not like the actors branch and the critics haven’t entertained this idea before.  The last time Hanks was on Oscar’s radar was in Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away” – a performance that earned him his fourth Golden Globe award and citations from New York and Chicago.  He was probably second to Russell Crowe‘s work in the Best Picture winning “Gladiator” but when push came to shove, Hanks missed out.  With heavy competition in his category, and another performance on the way in Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” it won’t be easy for Hanks to top the competition.  At this writing, the only performances we’re still waiting on is Christian Bale in “American Hustle,” Matt Damon in “The Monuments Men,” Joaquin Phoenix in “Her,” and Ben Stiller in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  My money is only Bale or Phoenix has the potential to shake things up.  There are a lot of moving pieces at the moment.

Oscar Isaac is simply sensation in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” one of my favorite performances of the year.  He also probably delivers one of my favorite performances in a  Coen Brothers movie ever.  All the talk about “he deserves it…but it won’t happen” can kick-start something for Isaac and ends up happening.  The same things were said about Demian Bichir in “A Better Life” and look how that turned out.

And then there’s the miraculous Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is just heartbreaking in “12 Years a Slave.”  If the film is destined to be “the one,” he is an easy choice for AMPAS to check off for a statue.  Both Ejiofor and Hanks have emotional finales, enriched in spirit, and have viewers in tears.  There will be a bloodbath in this category all season long.  Even I don’t know who I want to vote for in the upcoming Critics Choice Movie Awards and  I usually have a good idea by now who stands out in my mind.  This year, not so much.

We’re just waiting for the precursors to start clearing out some of the fog.  Matthew McConaughey, still memorable in “Dallas Buyers Club,” already has fans screaming for a citation in Jeff Nichols‘ “Mud.”  Could the blockbuster star turned character actor get double nominated this year or will one take away from the other?  Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey could be a one-two punch for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” when everything is said and done.  Whitaker is one of the highlights of Daniels’ film.

And I didn’t even mention Idris Elba, who received most of the praise for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and Hugh Jackman, delivering his career best in “Prisoners.”  I still pray daily for the works of Ethan Hawke in “Before Midnight” and Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station” to stand a chance and get some critics awards along the way.  I’m not hopeful.

And the race is on.

(to be updated this week, don’t hold me to it)

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
  2. Robert Redford – All is Lost
  3. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
  4. Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
  5. Bruce Dern – Nebraska