Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Four of these guys just won the roles of men who will be seen on Oscar night applauding Day-Lewis’ walk to the stage to pick up his third Academy Award. The Anglo-Irish actor has already won a landslide of critics’ awards for his crafty portrayal of Abraham Lincoln; the other nominees are simply his honor guard. And honorable they are: Cooper as a bipolar teacher in a, we’ll say, eccentric family; Washington, a Best Actor winner (Training Day), as the ace pilot addicted to alcohol, cocaine and his heroic reputation; Jackman, who carries the crushing burden of an all-singing musical drama on his sturdy shoulders; and Phoenix, who brought tons of neurotic energy to the role of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wayward pupil in The Master. Oscar-nominated in 2006 for playing Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (he lost to Hoffman as Truman Capote) and a critic’s fave for this performance, Phoenix overcame his recent loony reputation and his own braying criticism of the whole Oscar process. Moral: If you want to be invited to the party, be sure to badmouth the hosts.
Snubs: Richard Gere didn’t insult anyone, and his performance as a desperate titan of Wall Street in Arbitrage won plenty of plaudits. But at 63 — and 36 years after making his first big impression with a dynamite turn in Looking for Mr. Goodbar — Gere is still without an Oscar nomination. Also MIA: John Hawkes as a sweet-souled man in an iron lung looking for his first taste of sex. An Oscar-nominated actor (Winter’s Bone) playing a real character (poet Mark O’Brien) with a poignant infirmity — what’s not to vote for? Whatever it was, the Academy found it.
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