Potential Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Nominations for the 2013 Oscars

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
January 2nd, 2013

Potential Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Nominations for the 2013 Oscars

-- Hollywood insider speculation about the Eighty-Fifth Academy Awards is underway. The year 2012 has given cinema critics many memorable films with terrific and engaging performances from some of the best actors of our time. What actors are receiving the most attention as possible contenders for the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories? While some expect a shoe-in for one actor in particular, other actors in contention may pull an upset.

The main contenders for Best Actor are Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln"), Joaquin Phoenix ("The Master"), and Denzel Washington ("Flight"). Phoenix created a lot of chatter among critics and insiders due to his intense performance; however, he may have soured the Academy by referring to the Oscar awards as an expletive term. The portrayal of a man coming completely undone at a base level has a lot of precedent for Oscar appeal, but it remains to be seen if Phoenix will be snubbed due to his unpredictable outbursts.

In heavy contrast to Phoenix's role, other contenders offer more dignified characters. Daniel Day-Lewis is a venerable actor who is known for taking his role preparation to extreme measures. Anyone who has seen his character of Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York" or Hawkeye in "The Last of the Mohicans" can attest to this fact. His year-long study of Lincoln and the people surrounding him resulted in a portrayal of the historical figure that is uniquely his. However, Daniel Day-Lewis has already won two Oscars. Will the Academy put him in the rare three-time-winner club with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Katherine Hepburn, and Meryl Streep? Or will that honor go to another Oscar alumni-Denzel Washington?

In "Flight," Washington plays Whip Whitaker, an alcoholic pilot who happens to land a defective plane in a daring maneuver. He saves the lives of everyone on board and is hailed as a hero-until his screening reports come back showing alcohol in his blood. Washington's performance is considered one of the best of the year by many in the film industry. However, the Academy may not appreciate the appropriately nuanced performance so artfully displayed by Washington.

A surprise nomination is always possible, and that may come in the form of Hugh Jackman for his role in this season's rendition of the musical "Les Miserables." Musicals are not an Academy favorite; however, Johnny Depp was nominated in the past for his role as Sweeney Todd, and "Chicago" netted four acting nominations. Other long shots include Ben Affleck ("Argo"), Anthony Hopkins ("Hitchcock"), John Hawkes ("The Sessions"), and Bradley Cooper ("Silver Linings Playbook").

Best Supporting Actor also has a trio of actors who appear to be safe nomination bets and a few who may squeak into the running. "The Master" had not only Phoenix but also Philip Seymour Hoffman, who shined in his role and truly defined his character. As the more grounded half of the pair, it's evident that Hoffman brought life to the role as much as any director's advice or screenplay instruction. As a close second, many critics are considering "Argo's" Alan Arkin. Arkin seems to get pigeonholed into character roles as the curmudgeonly old man-like in "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Get Smart." However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. He brings a lot to the table for the audience and does it well.

Another spot may go to the venerable Robert De Niro, even though he has been subject to a lot of criticism for his perceived lackluster efforts in his most recent films such as "Killer Elite," "Godsend," and "New Year's Eve." Many felt that he was just showing up for a paycheck. This feeling can be put to rest for anyone who has seen his heartfelt performance in "Silver Linings Playbook." A surprise nomination may go to Leonardo DiCaprio for his deliciously dastardly performance as a slave-owning plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." DiCaprio even went as far as to continue filming when he injured his hand. The bloodied hand was kept in the film and used to horrifying effect. The movie also features Samuel L. Jackson, and there's been some buzz for his supporting role as well.

The Academy sent ballots to its members on Dec. 17, and the nominees will be announced on Jan. 10, 2013. The Eighty-Fifth Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 24, 2013. Will things go as many have predicted, or will there be a surprising upset? Thankfully, the Oscars are never completely predictable.