Will Daniel Day-Lewis Be First to Win 3 Oscars For Best Actor?

By John H. Foote
Who else might have been deserving?
In the history of the Academy Awards, since 1927, no single actor has managed to win three Academy Awards for Best Actor. Nine have won twice, while Jack Nicholson has won twice for Best Actor and once for Best Supporting Actor. Character actor Walter Brennan won three times as Best Supporting Actor before 1950 and at least one actor should have won three Best Actor awards in a span of six years in the sixties, but did not. Incredibly Katherine Hepburn won four times as Best Actress, the first in the thirties, back to back awards in the sixties and the final one in 1981 putting her far ahead of both the men and women.
Thirteen women have won twice for Best Actress, with Ingrid Bergman and Meryl Streep each winning another for Best Supporting Actress, and many of the ladies, could have won more than they did. Is it not bizarre that Streep just became a two time Best Actress winner only a year ago??
Daniel Day-Lewis will likely become the first actor to be a triple Best Actor winner for his magnificent performance in Lincoln (2012), the years best film. Day-Lewis first won for his stunning work in My Left Foot (1989) and just five years ago for There Will Be Blood (2007) arguably the greatest male performance ever put on film. His win for Lincoln (2012) will place him where no other actor has ever been, but in hindsight, several could have been perhaps should have been three time winners (or more) before now.
Fredric March, Spencer Tracey, and Gary Cooper were all deserving two time Oscar winners, with not one of them having a chance at a third. However, the other six all should be three time winners.
Marlon Brando won twice in his career, the first for his brilliant work in On the Waterfront (1954) and eighteen years later for his iconic performance in The Godfather (1972). Surely no one disputes that Brando should have won Best Actor for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) which altered the face of American screen acting, and remains one of the finest performances put on screen. One year after winning for The Godfather (1972) he gave his career best performance in Last Tango in Paris (1973) which won several critics awards, but after refusing his Oscar in 1972 there was not a chance the Academy was going to honor him just a year later. Brando should be one of two male four time winners, but the votes he deserved went elsewhere.
The other four time winner should be Jack Nicholson, who has won twice for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and As Good As It Gets (1997). Lets begin by striking the second win, which should have gone to Robert Duvall in The Apostle (1997) and start all over with Nicholson. The win for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) canot be argued, it remains a breathtaking piece of acting, the finest of his impressive career. Ten years later he gave a risky award winning performance in Prizzi’s Honor (1985) for which he should have won, and two years later he was even better in the depressing Ironweed (1987) as a haunted hobo. The fourth award should have come for About Schmidt (2002) which earned him some of the critics awards, but lost him the Oscar. Add into this mix the fact that Nicholson should also have won four times for Best Supporting Actor and he becomes the most honored actor in the history of the Academy. The man should have won Best Supporting Actor in Easy Rider (1969), Reds (1981), and The Departed (2006) in addition to his win for  Terms of Endearment (1983) which would give him eight wins in all.
When Brando fell out of favour in the sixties, Paul Newman rose to the occasion with an array of superb performances that saw him evolve as a great actor before our eyes. Wins for Best Actor should have come to the blue eyed actor for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963) and best of al Cool Hand Luke (1967) rather than the single award for The Color of Money (1986). By then Newman was so tired of losing he did not show up to collect his Oscar.
Potential three time winners could also be Dustin Hoffman, who should have won for Tootsie (1982), Tom Hanks, a third should have come to him for Cast Away (2000) and Sean Penn, who deserved to win the first time he was nominated for Dead Man Walking (1995).
In my perfect world, they all would won what I have stated, but we do not live in that world.
Come Oscar night, Daniel Day-Lewis will become the first actor to win three Academy Awards for Best Actor. What is astounding is that he has done it on just five nominations! He lost for In the Name of the Father (1993) and Gangs of New York (2002), and could have easily been nominated for a sixth for his work in The Crucible (1996). Does winning three Oscars mean he is the greatest of all actors? Of course not, but he is without question in that elite group of the greatest film actors of all time.
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John Foote

John Foote