If Daniel Day Lewis wins his second Best Actor Oscar for There Will Be Blood, he’ll be joining a fraternity of only seven other two-time winners — Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Fredric March, Jack Nicholson and Spencer Tracy. As far as I can reason, there are two things working against Lewis joining the club.
One, his Blood character, Daniel Plainview, is a single-minded misanthropic fiend — the person many workaholics fear they might actually be deep down, which is not a pleasant notion. Plainview has a certain malignant burn-through quality, yes, and he really is quite the powerhouse, especially in the beginning, but he lacks the demonic charisma of, say, Anthony Hopkins‘ Oscar-winning Hannibal Lecter. You have to at least half-like a character to vote for the performance.
And two, Lewis is the Terrence Malick of acting, coming back to do Gangs of New York after working as a shoemaker in Florence. Point being, do some actors have an odd grudge over his sparse workload? As in, “I have to work and study and party-whore my ass off to land jobs and sometimes suffer financially for the lack of work, and then Lewis just sweeps in after years of leisurely puttering around in Ireland and Europe and delivers another brilliant performance and gets nominated for an Oscar?” This is a small-minded way of looking at things, but actors, it is often said, are fundamentally children.
Postscript: I got the idea for this item from “loyalfromlondon.” I started my first draft of it with “As loyalfromlondon says” but I didn’t like the way that sounded. So I decided to say thanks at the end but then I forgot because two or three other things came up. Then I post the piece and the London guy writes to complain that he’s been fucked over because I didn’t extend a “thanks.” Twice.