By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With just a few days to go before the annual Academy Awards ceremony, it’s time to handicap the races among 2012’s top performances by male performers.
Who are the likely winners of this year’s Oscars for best lead actor and best supporting actor?
In the impressive category of “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role,” all five nominees are past winners. So this won’t be anybody’s first Oscar.
Four-time nominee Alan Arkin, as the resourceful movie producer in Argo, is up to his old audience-pleasing tricks, but apparently has the slimmest chance to take home another award.
And Christoph Waltz, with his second nomination for his loquacious bounty hunter in Django Unchained, is only a slightly less unlikely long shot.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (who would get my vote, but not by much) scores his fourth nomination as the charismatic religious-cult leader in The Master and should never be counted out, but this looks more and more like a two-horse race.
Four-time nominee Tommy Lee Jones’ reading of crusty abolitionist congressman Thaddeus Stephens is a highlight in Lincoln — and he could surely could go home with the prize.
But it is most likely to go to two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro (below), who returns to form in a big way as the gambling-addict Eagles fan/dad with OCD, in Silver Linings Playbook.
In the category of “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role,” there is as little suspense as you are ever likely to see in an Oscars race. This will be a coronation.
With two Oscar wins and six nominations, Denzel Washington’s body of work remains at an elite level, but this particular outing as an alcoholic pilot in Flight has not been seen as quite at the level of his best work.
Reluctant nominee Joaquin Phoenix, with his third nomination as the troubled follower of the title character in The Master, has pretty much reduced any tiny chance he had in this category in the first place by articulating his disdain for the Oscar process.
This category also features two first-time nominees who hereby establish themselves as serious screen actors without putting a dent in this race’s inevitable outcome.
With his first nomination, as prisoner-turned-mayor Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Hugh Jackman excels as actor and singer and demonstrates, if he hasn’t already, that he is at least a double threat.
And Bradley Cooper, already an A-List star, showcases his acting talent and officially widens his range as the looking-on-the-bright-side son with bipolar disorder in Silver Linings Playbook, even while conceding this competition to the inevitable winner.
And that would be the formidable two-time Oscar winner and five-time nominee Daniel Day-Lewis (top photo), portraying president Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln, with his characteristically inspired skill and astonishing intensity. Look for him to become the first actor ever to win in the best actor category for a third time.
Somebody’s got to be the best and, at this juncture, Daniel Day-Lewis is just that.