Every year, the race to the Oscars includes a list of contenders that range from previous Academy Award winners to hopeful first-timers. This year brings much of the same, with buzzed-about actors like two-time winners Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") and Denzel Washington ("Flight") and previously nominated actresses Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook") and Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty").
Who has the advantage when it comes to Academy voters? Forget about chance and take a look at the statistics, which show how much of a lock Day-Lewis is, compared to never-been-nominated Bradley Cooper. Here's how this year's slate of possible nominees stacks up -- we'll show you the number of times they've been nominated against the number of substantial roles they've had.
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln" (4 nominations, 19 roles: 21%)
At age 55, the Method actor of his generation makes a movie only slightly more often than director Terrence Malick. Considering his amazing performance as the United States’ legendary 16th President – not to mention his penchant for racking up awards, Day-Lewis is sure to score an Oscar nomination this year.
Denzel Washington, "Flight" (5 nominations, 40 roles: 13%)
Like Day-Lewis, Washington has won two Oscars, but he has the most overall nominations of any actor in the mix this awards season. Denzel’s nuanced turn as a troubled pilot has been considered a triumph, so an Academy Award nod should be expected.
Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master" (2 nominations, 24 roles: 8%)
Yes, he did say he was retiring from acting at one point, but Phoenix’s return to the big screen was nothing short of transcendent. There’s no doubt that Phoenix will be rewarded for his masterful portrayal with a third Oscar nomination.
Anthony Hopkins, "Hitchcock" (4 nominations, 62 roles: 6%)
One of Hollywood’s most esteemed elder statesman playing one of its most iconic filmmakers is a formula made for Academy voters. How could Hopkins, who memorably won the Oscar for "The Silence of the Lambs," NOT get a nod for playing the portly genius behind "Vertigo" and "Psycho"?
Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained" (1 nomination, 26 roles: 4%)
The last time Waltz worked for Quentin Tarantino, he scored an Academy Award (in addition to nearly every other acting honor) for his first English-language role. With his upcoming depiction of a dentist-turned-bounty hunter in Tarantino’s much-anticipated antebellum thriller, Waltz could go 2 for 2 in QT films.
Bill Murray, "Hyde Park on Hudson" (1 nomination, 47 roles: 2%)
Since his days on "Saturday Night Live," Murray has transformed himself into a indie film favorite, vehicle for Wes Anderson’s visions, and the finest actor to step off of "SNL"’s studio 8H. In the comedy “Hyde Park,” Murray plays FDR and once again demonstrates why he’s the master of droll.
John Hawkes, "The Sessions" (1 nomination, 53 roles: 2%)
A character actor turned leading man, Hawkes is one of those critically acclaimed actors who never fails to impress. As a disabled virgin hoping to get a whole lotta love from a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt), Hawkes has a good chance at scoring his second nomination.
Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables" (0 nominations, 22 roles: 0%)
We had to double check that Jackman had yet to receive an Academy Award nomination, but it’s true. Playing protagonist Jean Valjean could and should change that for the Tony-winning actor, because he’ll get to show off his acting and singing skills in one of the most beloved musicals in the world.
Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook" (0 nominations, 22 roles: 0%)
He might be the outgoing Sexiest Man Alive, but Cooper’s far more than a pretty face. This hunk can act, and anyone who doubts it should see him opposite Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell’s fabulous relationship drama. If dozens of Oscar pundits are to be believed Cooper is destined for his first Academy nod.
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook" (1 nomination, 10 roles: 10%)
Nearly every pundit agrees that Lawrence, who was nominated at age 20 for her breakout performance in "Winter’s Bone," is on track to receive her second nomination – not for "The Hunger Games," but for her relationship drama "Silver Linings Playbook."
Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty" (1 nomination, 11 roles: 9%)
Chastain had a career-changing 2011, earning a Best Supporting Actress nod for her feisty role in "The Help," and she’s clearly on a roll. She’s already being touted for Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden drama, which comes out at the end of the year.
Helen Mirren, "Hitchcock" (4 nominations, 58 roles: 7%)
Mirren is the most decorated actress likely to get nominated this year, and at this point in her career, she could easily get Oscar buzz for asking for a bus transfer in a movie. Luckily for us, she does a whole lot more as Hitchcock’s wife and professional partner, Alma Reville.
Keira Knightley, "Anna Karenina" (1 nomination, 26 roles: 7%)
Knightley has made a living out of playing corseted characters in costume dramas, successfully earning an Oscar nomination for 2006’s "Pride & Prejudice." After taking on yet another legendary literary protagonist, she’s likely to get Academy votes again.
Marion Cotillard, "Rust and Bone" (1 nomination, 36 roles: 3%)
Unlike most of the other women being buzzed about for an Oscar nomination, Cotillard already has an Academy Award for her transformative portrayal of Edith Piaf in 2007’s "La vie en rose," so being on the shortlist again for the French drama "Rust and Bone" is a no-brainer.
Naomi Watts, "The Impossible" (1 nomination, 39 roles: 3% )
Watts last had the honor of being an Academy Award nominee in 2002 for "Mulholland Drive," and 10 years later, it could happen again, thanks to her heartbreaking portrayal of a mother and wife trying to survive the South Asian Tsunami of 2004.
Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour" (0 nominations, 53 roles: 0%)
Riva’s most famous role came 53 years ago, as the unnamed lead in “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” a forerunner of the French New Wave. Now 85 and a veteran of French cinema, Riva plays a stroke victim, one half of an elderly couple. “Amour,” from controversial director Michael Haneke, won the Palm D’Or at Cannes, raising Riva’s odds for a nom.
Laura Linney, "Hyde Park on Hudson" (3 nominations, 34 roles: 9%)
A leading actress of her generation, and one of the most honored on this list, Linney displays her trademark versatility in this comedic portrayal of FDR’s mistress.
Quvenzhane Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (0 nominations, 1 roles: 0%)
It’s not unheard of for a child actress to snag an Academy nomination for a universally revered performance. Wallis’ Hushpuppy is the protagonist and the heart of Benh Zeitlin’s fantasy drama, so it’s possible the Sundance darling could be a contender.
Best Supporting Actor:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master" (3 nominations, 47 roles: 6%)
Though he took the title role in P.T. Anderson's epic, he’ll likely find himself nominated as a supporting actor for his performance. No doubt one of the finest film and theater working today (he won an Oscar for "Capote" and also has three Tony nominations), he shines especially bright in Anderson’s ensemble masterpieces.
Alan Arkin, "Argo" (3 nominations, 60 roles: 5%)
A veteran character actor, Arkin received two nominations in the 1960s but didn’t get nominated again until 2007, when he won in this category for "Little Miss Sunshine." In Ben Affleck’s recreation of a daring rescue during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, Arkin portrays a film producer instrumental in bringing the plan together.
Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln" (3 nominations, 51 roles: 6%)
Jones donned a wig and a certain additional gravitas to complement his lined face to portray an abolitionist Civil-War-era senator struggling to reconcile his ideals with his political goal of full emancipation. Playing, again, the most serious man in the room may earn Jones another Academy nomination.
Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook" (6 nominations, 86 roles: 7%)
Hollywood’s ‘70s legend appears opposite Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, two of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. As the oddball patriarch of a sports-obsessed Philadelphia clan, De Niro puts aside the comedic self-parody of the recent past to deliver a genuine, emotionally engaged performance that could earn him his seventh nomination.
Leonardo DiCaprio, "Django Unchained" (3 nominations, 25 roles: 12%)
DiCaprio is the star of many a commercial and critical hit by a long list of iconic directors (Scorsese, Cameron, Luhrmann, Spielberg, and Eastwood) He finally takes a turn with Quentin Tarantino, playing a brutal plantation master in this slave-revenge tale that could land him his fourth nomination.
Russell Crowe, "Les Miserables" (3 nominations, 34 roles: 9%)
Crowe brings the trademark intensity that won him an Oscar in "Gladiator" to the role of Javert, the relentless police inspector in the Hollywood adaptation of the long-running Broadway hit. Beloved by the Academy, Crowe getting another nomination seems more than likely.
Javier Bardem, "Skyfall" (3 nominations, 35 roles: 9%)
Bardem’s lantern jaw and heavy brow make him the perfect villain, and his Oscar-winning role in "No Country for Old Men, " defined the relentless villain of unstoppable evil. Though no Bond film has ever received an acting nomination, Bardem’s unforgettably campy villain Silva may break that streak.
Matthew McConaughey, "Magic Mike" (0 nominations, 35 roles: 0%)
Though not generally placed in the same category as others on this list, McConaughey’s depiction of Dallas, the enigmatic father figure and strip club owner, in Steven Soderbergh’s summer hit could land him a surprise (and his first) Academy nomination.
Ewan McGregor, "The Impossible" (0 nominations, 45 roles: 0%)
The versatile McGregor, who got his start in indie favorites and got worldwide recognition in the "Star Wars" prequels stars opposite Naomi Watts as the father of a family torn asunder by the 2004 Tsunami. His harrowing on-screen search for his wife and child amidst the carnage may wash up a nomination for McGregor.
Amy Adams, "The Master" (3 nominations, 27 roles: 11%)
Equally talented in family comedies (“Enchanted,” “The Muppets”) and more adult fare (“The Fighter,” “Doubt,”), her role as the true-believer wife of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s title character lands her in the latter category.
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions" (1 nomination, 34 roles: 3%)
With only one nomination (but a winning one, for 1997’s “As Good as It Gets”), Hunt has been winning renewed critical praise for her nakedly honest portrayal of a sex therapist working with a virginal polio victim.
Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables" (1 nomination, 22 roles: 5%)
In high school, Hathaway sang at Carnegie Hall. In 2012, Hathaway will sing on screen as Fantine, the tragic young mother in the highly anticipated film adaptation of the Broadway hit. Will "I Dreamed a Dream" earn her the dream of a second nomination?
Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook" (1 nomination, 16 roles: 6%)
An Australian sex symbol from the 1970s, Weaver was nominated for 2010’s crime drama "Animal Kingdom. " Weaver could score another nod for a very different kind of family ensemble, as the on-screen wife of Robert De Niro and mother of Bradley Cooper.
Susan Sarandon, "Arbitrage" (5 nominations, 36 roles: 14%)
It has been six years since Sarandon last impressed Academy voters (her fifth and winning nomination was for "Dead Man Walking") , but she’s garnered such universal praise for Nicholas Jarecki’s high-stakes drama "Arbitrage" (as financier Richard Gere’s put-upon wife) that a sixth could be in the works.
Maggie Smith, "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (6 nominations, 52 roles: 12%)
Along with Judi Dench, she’s the grand dame of British actors, able to make even the smallest of roles award worthy. Her last time on the Oscar short list was 2002 (and her last win was in 1979); could 2012 bring lucky number seven?
Sally Field, "Lincoln" (2 nominations, 33 roles: 6%)
Field has been nominated for exactly two Academy Awards, and she has won both times. While accepting her second, for the 1984 Great Depression drama "Places in the Heart," she famously said "I can't deny the fact you like me right now, you really like me." We're betting the Academy will like her again after her powerful portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln.
Samantha Barks, "Les Miserables" (0 nominations, 1 roles: 0%)
Barks may be the only actor on this list to win her place due to a reality show. In 2008, after placing third in "I’d Do Anything, " a BBC show hunting for the next West End theater star, Barks was cast as Eponine in the London production of “Les Miserables,” the role she’ll reprise in the filmed adaptation, her first feature role.
Emily Blunt, "Looper" (0 nominations, 22 roles: 0%)
Sci-fi thrillers don’t get a lot of love from Academy voters, but "Looper" proved to be one of the best of genre, and Blunt delivers a performance full of secrets that she unspools in refreshing fashion.