Oscars 2013 Predictions: Best Actor

'Lincoln' star Daniel Day-Lewis should win the popular vote.

Even if you slept through half of sophomore American history, you know how Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” ends — with the ratification of the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery, and the beloved president’s assassination. Yet, you still plunked down $10 to see these events unfold on screen, didn’t you?

Similarly, this year’s race for the Best Actor Oscar (much like the Best Supporting Actress category) is largely a foregone conclusion. Who else but Daniel Day-Lewis could take home the trophy? Well, that’s what we’re here to answer. In the lead up to Sunday’s (February 24) ceremony, we’re breaking down the major categories. So what about Best Actor?

Who Should Win
First, let’s make sure we know who we’re talking about (lest we get lost in a Day-Lewis daze). In addition to the “Lincoln” lead, this year’s Best Actor nominees include Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook,” Hugh Jackman for “Les Misérables,” Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master” and Denzel Washington for “Flight.” All formidable performances, to be sure, yet only one actor truly retreated into his role, emerging nearly unrecognizable — the result of pitch-perfect appearance and manner. And that man was Day-Lewis. I guess that’s what a year of preparation will get you.

Who Will Win
The Academy likes nothing more than a transformative turn, bonus points awarded for biographical material (see: Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote,” Jamie Foxx in “Ray,” Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady,” Charlize Theron in “Monster”), so on that criteria alone, Day-Lewis is the front-runner in this race. Add in all his earlier alphabet soup wins (BAFTA, CCA, SAG and, well, Golden Globe), and you don’t need poll numbers to predict this one. Better clear room on the mantel for a third Oscar, Daniel.

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