Oscars 2013 – Best Lead Roles

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This is part four of our coverage on the 85th Annual Academy Awards. Part one covered random bits and pieces about some various categories. Part two covered the Screenplay categories. And part three covered the Supporting Roles categories.

We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty here. With three installments of our preview left, we’ll be covering arguably the three biggest categories at the event, starting with the Best Lead Roles of the year. Before I get into my thoughts on the nominees, let’s take a look at them:

Best Actor

·         Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)

·         Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

·         Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)

·         Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

·         Denzel Washington (Flight)

Best Actress

·         Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)

·         Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

·         Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

·         Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of a Southern Wild)

·         Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Unlike the previous installments of our Oscars coverage, I can’t really find any faults with the nominees for Best Actor. I mentioned that I have no interest in seeing Les Miserables but from what I’ve heard, Hugh Jackman does a tremendous job. Never mind the fact that the phrase “Oscar Nominated Actor Hugh Jackman” is a little odd to say (not saying he’s a bad actor, he just never struck me as one that would get nominated for an Oscar), he’s apparently quite deserving of the nomination.

I don’t think it’s really a question as to who will end up taking the award, though. This is clearly Daniel Day-Lewis‘ award, for his turn as the 16th President of the United States in Lincoln. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get away and see the film itself but from everything I’ve been told, he’s incredible. Add to the fact that Lincoln is a strong contender for Best Picture and likely to come away with an array of statues and it all adds up to Day-Lewis being the clear frontrunner. That said, I could see Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook coming away with it in a long shot. Albeit incredibly long but still, his performance is incredible, especially when you consider the fact that he’s never been given a role in which he has to show any amount of range in the past. He’ll benefit from the fact that director David O. Russell is also nominated for Best Director and his co-star is nominated in the Lead Actress category as well but it ultimately won’t be enough to unseat Daniel Day Lewis. I want to make mention of Denzel Washington’s performance in Flight because, as a self-professed fanboy of his, it’s nice to see Washington in a role that isn’t simply him playing himself in a movie. He isn’t very likely to win the award but he was tremendous in the role and it’s nice to see him recognized for it.

The Lead Actress category isn’t that close, either. Like the Lead Actor category, there’s a clear frontrunner with an outside shot that a Silver Linings Playbook nominee could pull off an upset. Simply put, Jessica Chastainpretty much has this in the bag for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty. This is another one I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing but Chastain is the clear frontrunner in everybody’s eyes. I mentioned the fact that a Silver Linings Playbook nominee could pull it off and that’s because Jennifer Lawrence also gives a great performance. When an actor/actress is able to make you forget that they’re acting and they lose themselves in a role, you know that they’re doing a tremendous job and that’s something Lawrence does with ease in Silver Linings Playbook which makes her a dark horse to come away with the award.

The other nominees should be lucky that they were even nominated because like I mentioned in the previous article, there just weren’t that many outstanding performances by females. There were a couple of great ones (like I’ve alluded to) but not as many as their male counterparts. Part of that is the nature of Hollywood, as a lot of films are male-driven and female characters are secondary but the fact that Chastain just recently dominated the box office with two different films will hopefully lead Hollywood in a direction that allows for stronger female roles.

That’s all for the Lead categories! Look out for our next piece of coverage on the Best Director race.

Dylan Zellmer

I split time between games journalism and making video games. My love of it’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), fitness and my family define me otherwise.