He went public in saying working the red carpet circuit back when he was nominated for Walk the Line was one of the worst experiences of his life, and despite most reporters thinking those comments would cost him in the awards season, Joaquin Phoenix did get nominated for his work in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. It's a shame that there couldn't be room for John Hawkes who does a very good job in The Sessions and seems like one of the nicest persons in the face of the earth, but well, this was a race between six men and one wasn't going to make the cut.
It's gratifying to see Phoenix nominated, since he gives one of the best and most committed performances of the year. It's especially impressive when you compare it to his fellow nominees. He play crazier than Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, drunker than Denzel Washington in Flight and a much darker search for redemption than Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables. The motto of his performance seems to be "more, more, more", which is usually the kind of thing Academy voters like when looking for their winners and still, he most probably won't win.
Daniel Day-Lewis will surely win a third Oscar for his performance in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. And I think he should too. The last time he won an Oscar it was, coincidentally, for There Will Be Blood -a Paul Thomas Anderson movie- in a role as intense and unlikable as Joaquin's. He has recently gained the reputation as the world's greatest living actor with grand performances such as There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York, so the most pleasant surprise of Spielberg's Lincoln was finding a surprisingly subdued, quiet and realistic Daniel Day-Lewis one that went as far from the iconic grandeur that I was fearing would dominate a biopic of Abraham Lincoln directed by Steven Spielberg. Yes, I think Lincoln is the best work of Day-Lewis's career.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis