At this year’s Oscar ceremony when Meryl Streep won her third Oscar for “The Iron Lady,” she joked that she could practically hear half of America saying, “Oh no, her AGAIN?” While Streep’s award seemed overdue — what with nearly 30 years and close to a dozen nominations spanning her win for “Sophie’s Choice” and her portrayal of Margret Thatcher — she was on to something in pointing out how rare a third Oscar is.
While a number of people have won multiple Oscars in some of the technical and music categories, three-peats in directing and acting are few and far between. That could all change this year with Steven Spielberg’s epic, “Lincoln.” The much anticipated film from the two-time directing winner stars a pair of two-time acting champs: Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th American president and Sally Field as his troubled wife Mary Todd Lincoln.
In addition to Streep, only Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan have three acting Oscars, while Katharine Hepburn remains alone at the top of the list with four wins.
And among directors only film legends John Ford (4 wins), William Wyler (3), and Frank Capra (3) can boast more than two awards.
Day-Lewis leads the Best Actor race with odds of 7/4 for his portrayal of the president at a time of great crisis. In 1940, Raymond Massey was nominated as Best Actor for recreating his stage role in “Abe Lincoln in Illinois,” which traced his path to the White House.
Field is certainly in contention for a Best Supporting Actress bid. However, that category continues to be led by Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”).
A win for Field would give her the distinction of being the only three-time champ without a loss. But the actress polarizes Oscar voters. To paraphase her much-quoted second acceptance speech: they either really like her or they don’t like her at all. She won Best Actress Oscars for “Norma Rae” (1979) and “Places in the Heart” (1984) but wasn’t even nominated for her much praised and remembered roles in “Steel Magnolias” (1989) and “Forrest Gump” (1994).
This time out Field has a meaty part which has long been a showcase for actresses. Julie Harris won a Tony in 1973 for starring in the play “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” and contended for an Emmy four years later for the TV adaptation. And Mary Tyler Moore was an Emmy nominee for the 1988 telefilm “Gore Vidal’s Lincoln.”
Come February, “Lincoln” could have another historical (and much more enjoyable) night out at the theatre.