While most saw the Best Actor race at the 2013 Oscars as a foregone conclusion, it still was a category packed with enough brilliant performances that a surprise could have easily been eked out (especially after Christoph Waltz shook up the acting categories with his left-field win in the Best Supporting Actor category for "Django Unchained"). But the Best Actor wasn't an upset at all. Daniel Day-Lewis, as sixteenth President of the United States Abraham Lincoln, took the prize.
In a crowded field, Day Lewis beat out Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook," an all-singing Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables," Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master" and Denzel Washington in "Flight."
"I really don't know how any of this happened," Day-Lewis began his speech. "I am so grateful to the Academy for this beautiful honor." A little later, he unleashed zinger in the direction of Meryl Streep, who presented him with the award. "It's a strange thing because, three years ago... I had actually committed to play Margaret Thatcher, and Meryl was Steven's first choice for 'Lincoln,' and I'd like to see that version."
Of his competition, Day-Lewis said: "I am so proud to be included as one amongst you." He then got personal, making light of his notoriously immersive method acting: "When we got married 16 years, my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men. They were strange as individuals and even stranger as taken as a group. Lucky she's the versatile one in the family, and she's been a perfect companion to all of them."
Finally, he gave a shout-out to his creative partners: "I'd like to thank Kathy Kennedy, and through you, our mighty team of co-conspirators, at the apex of that human pyramid there are three men I owe this — Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg and the mysteriously beautiful mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln."
Day-Lewis had already won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama and the Screen Actor's Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. On Sunday night, he became the first actor in the history of the Academy to win three Best Actor awards.