Yes, we know Daniel Day-Lewis has this one in the bag, but in the interest of keeping this entry longer than any of There Will Be Blood’s histrionic one-liners, we shouldn’t discount a possible upset by Johnny Depp, who may not have collected very many prizes for his performance in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, but whose third nomination in this category in almost as many years points to the Academy’s every-growing affection for an actor who few thought would ever shed his pinup status. Actually, with the exception of Tommy Lee Jones, whose nomination here should have come as less of a surprise than it did, this category’s nominees constitute a wet dream for the demographic that watches The View and favors Hilary Clinton over Barack Obama. Also not to be discounted is Viggo Mortensen—that is, if we consider the amount of attention lavished on the actor’s pinga in 2007. Mortensen may not have whatever sympathy is on Depp’s side, but it doesn’t hurt that his performance in Eastern Promises shames George Clooney, who may represent only one of two Best Pictures nominees in the category, but whose turn in Michael Clayton isn’t so much an expression of modern existential despair as it is sadsack response to losing the Sexiest Man Alive People cover to Jason Bourne. So, yeah, while Day-Lewis may bring all the fanboys to the yard, watch out for what the boys are doing to garner Mom’s attention.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Should Win: Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises