Joaquin Phoenix or Daniel Day-Lewis? New York Critics Awards' Best Actor Predictions

Joaquin Phoenix The MasterJoaquin Phoenix or Daniel Day-Lewis? New York Film Critics Best Actor prediction

[See previous article: "New York Film Critics Awards: THE MASTER, Michael Haneke?"] Will the New York Film Critics Circle go "foreign-language" this year in their choices for the acting categories? (Image: Joaquin Phoenix The Master.) [List of New York Film Critics 2012 winners.]

Though not impossible, considering that Amour's Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert are all in contention to some extent or other, no NYFCC award has gone to a non-English-speaking Best Actress since Norma Aleandro won for The Official Story back in 1985. In the other acting categories, the last such winners were Best Supporting Actress Gong Li for Farewell My Concubine in 1993 and Best Supporting Actor Charles Boyer for Stavisky in 1974*, while the last Best Actor was ... no one. Not one. It's kind of ironic that Trintignant and Riva have a better shot at getting Oscar nods than NYFCC recognition.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Since I've already gone out on a limb predicting a Best Director victory for Michael Haneke for Amour, I'll stick to English speakers in the acting categories. So, for Best Actor, will Daniel Day-Lewis pull a Jack Nicholson and fourpeat† in the New York Film Critics' Best Actor category for his performance as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln? Though certainly not impossible, I'm betting on the more offbeat Joaquin Phoenix for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. If Phoenix does win, that'll be his first NYFCC victory and will place him once again – before The Master's highly disappointing box office performance – as one of the top contenders for the 2013 Best Actor Oscar.

Besides Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis, other strong Best Actor possibilities are John Hawkes for The Sessions, Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, and Denzel Washington for Flight. A few more: Thure Lindhardt for Keep the Lights On, Matthew McConaughey for Killer Joe, Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained, and Tom Hanks for Cloud Atlas.

Limo Movies: Little chance

Much less likely, but not impossible: once again, the Cannes Film Festival's two "limo movies," i.e., Denis Lavant for Holy Motors and Robert Pattinson for Cosmopolis. Those would be a couple of hip choices. But don't hold your breath. In recent times, the New York Critics' Best Actor winners have been anything but way-out-there daring. In the last five years: Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood, Sean Penn for Milk, George Clooney for Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up in the Air, Colin Firth for The King's Speech, and Brad Pitt for Moneyball and The Tree of Life.

And then, there's always that 81-year-old French speaker, Jean-Louis Trintignant. [See also: "New York Film Critics Awards: Oscar Precursors, Yes; Snooty and Artsy, No."]

* Okay, 2009 Best Supporting Actor NYFCC Award winner Christoph Waltz speaks various languages in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, but that's still basically an English-language movie made by a Hollywood filmmaker.

† For the record: Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor NYFCC Awards for My Left Foot, 1989; Gangs of New York, 2002; and There Will Be Blood, 2007. Jack Nicholson is the only actor to have won four Best Actor NYFCC Awards: The Last Detail and Chinatown, 1974; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; Prizzi's Honor, 1985; Broadcast News, Ironweed, and The Witches of Eastwick, 1987. Additionally, Nicholson won two Best Supporting Actor Awards, for Easy Rider, 1969, and Terms of Endearment, 1983 – thus remaining the overall male champ in the NYFCC's acting categories even if Daniel Day-Lewis wins this year. Day-Lewis, as mentioned by a commenter below, has won only one Best Supporting Actor NYFCC Award, for A Room with a View and My Beautiful Laundrette, 1986.

Other three-time NYFCC Best Actor winners: Laurence Olivier (Henry V, 1946; Hamlet, 1948; Sleuth, 1972), Burt Lancaster (From Here to Eternity, 1953; Elmer Gantry, 1960; Atlantic City, 1981), and Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, 1976; Raging Bull, 1980; Awakenings and Goodfellas, 1990). De Niro won an additional Best Supporting Actor Award for Bang the Drum Slowly, 1973.

["New York Critics Awards' Best Actor Predictions: Daniel Day-Lewis or Joaquin Phoenix?" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Joaquin Phoenix The Master photo: The Weinstein Company.

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