Oscar Handicap 2008: Leading Actor and Actress

Here, we will examine the surprising results of voting patters for Best Actor and Best Actress.

(For explanations as to how our scoring system works, make sure to read our first article in the series, Best Picture of the Year, linked at the bottom of this article.)

Best Actor

There is no denying Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the better actors on the planet. But let’s face it, as good of a character as Daniel Plainview may be, it’s not exactly a revelation. Plainview is a great mustache, a great accent… and little else. Plainview learns nothing from his machinations, nor does he change one iota in the entire 158 minutes we must spend with him. Depp’s Sweeney Todd doesn’t change much, although we only follow his character for a few weeks instead of the more than twenty-five years we spent with Plainview. We only spend a few days with Clooney’s Michael Clayton, yet his character undergoes a massive transformation during that short period. But Plainview is the showiest of the five nominees, and the one with all the forward momentum.

The Breakdowns

1) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film in this category, you’ve won 28 of the past 29 times (96.55%). Advantage: Clooney, Day-Lewis, Depp, Mortensen

2) If you’re not your film’s only chance to win, you’ve won 28 of 29 (96.55%). Advantage: Clooney, Day-Lewis, Depp

3) As long as you’re not the oldest nominee, you’ve won 26 of 29 times (89.66%). Advantage: Clooney, Day-Lewis, Depp, Mortensen

4) The Best Actor winner has starred in a Best Picture nominee 60 of 79 times (75.95%). Advantage: Clooney, Day-Lewis

5) The nominee with at least two major pre-awards has gone on to win the Oscar 21 of 29 times (72.41%). Advantage: Day-Lewis

6) The SAG Award winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category 9 of 13 times (69.23%). Advantage: Day-Lewis

7) Playing a fictional character has helped the winner 19 of 29 times (65.25%). Advantage: All nominees

8) Nominees who have received the Golden Globe for drama have won the Oscar 18 of 29 times (62.07%). Advantage: Day-Lewis

9) First-time nominees in this category have won 15 of 28 (51.72%). Slight advantage: Clooney, Jones, Mortensen

By The Numbers

This is the one category you can pretty much assure the outcome for. Day-Lewis will undoubtedly pick up his second Academy Award.

George Clooney, Michael Clayton: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -6, +7, -8, +9 (199 of 295, 67.46%)

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8, -9 (233 of 295, 78.98%)

Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8, -9 (156 of 295, 52.88%)

Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah: -1, -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8, +9 (81 of 295, 27.46%)

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises: +1, -2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8, +9 (131 of 295, 44.41%)

Personal prediction for Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Personal choice amongst these nominees: George Clooney

Personal choice for Best Leading Actor of 2007: Mike O’Connell, The Living Wake. Unless you attended the 2007 CineVegas or AFI Film Festivals, you didn’t have a chance to see one of the best performances of the decade. K. Roth Binew is one of the best fictional characters created since Ignatius J. Reilly, and would make O’Connell one of Hollywood’s busiest character actors if any distributor took a chance on this beautifully twisted comedy.

Best Actress

Want to talk about a yoyo category? The first expected nominee from films released in 2007, Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart, doesn’t get a nod, and the other early front-runner, Ms. Cotillard, now finds herself lagging behind a previous winner whose film came out a month earlier and did not connect with audiences. But what can Ms. Cotillard do? It’s Julie Christie world this year, and we’re just living in it… or is it?

The Breakdowns

1) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film in this category at the time of the nomination announcement, you’ve won 27 of the last 29 times (93.10%). Advantage: Blanchett, Christie, Cotillard, Page

2) As long as you are not your film’s only shot at Oscar glory, you’ve won 68 of 79 times (86.08%). Advantage: Christie, Cotillard, Linney, Page

3) First-time nominees in this category have won 24 of 29 (82.76%). Advantage: Cotillard, Page

4) Playing a fictional character has helped the winner 23 of 29 times (79.31%). Advantage: Christie, Linney, Page

5) The winner in this category has played an American character 23 of 29 times (79.31%). Advantage: Linney, Page

6) The SAG Award winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category 10 of 13 (76.92%). Advantage: Christie

7) Winners have come from films with an original screenplay 19 of 29 (65.52%). Advantage: Blanchett, Cotillard, Linney, Page

8) The Best Actress winner has starred in a Best Picture nominee 18 of 29 times (62.07%). Advantage: Page

9) A nominee with prior acting nominations has gone on to win in this category 17 of 29 times (58.62%). Advantage: Blanchett, Christie, Linney

10) Nominees who have received the Golden Globe for drama have won the Oscar 17 of 29 times (58.62%). Advantage: Christie

By The Numbers

The numbers say the diminutive spitfire from Nova Scotia has a commanding edge over her rivals. A Page win here could signal an upset in the Best Picture category.

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age: +1, -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8, +9, -10 (117 of 324, 36.11%)

Julie Christie, Away From Her: +1, +2, -3, +4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, +10 (195 of 324, 60.19%)

Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose: +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8, -9, -10 (197 of 324, 60.80%)

Laura Linney, The Savages: -1, +2, -3, +4, +5, -6, +7, -8, +9, -10 (183 of 324, 56.48%)

Ellen Page, Juno: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, -9, -10 (229 of 324, 70.68%)

Personal prediction for Best Actress: Julie Christie

Personal choice from this category: Julie Christie

All articles in this series:

Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Score, Best Editing and Best Art Direction
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature

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