When Meryl Streep earned her third Oscar in February, she joined an exclusive club. Only four other people have ever won at least three Academy Awards for acting in the 84-year history of the ceremony.
It had been a long 14 years since Jack Nicholson picked up his third trophy by the time Streep received hers. It might only take one year for another person to join the ranks. Two-timers Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln"), Maggie Smith ("Quartet"), and Robert De Niro ("The Silver Linings Playbook") are on the radar of Oscar voters this year.
According to Gold Derby statistics, Day-Lewis might be in the best position to prevail for his role as President Abraham Lincoln in the upcoming Steven Spielberg film. He is currently listed in first place at 7/5 as Best Actor. His previous wins were both for lead performances in "My Left Foot" (1989) and "There Will Be Blood" (2007) out of four overall nods.
Smith actually has two shots at Oscar glory this time around. In "Quartet," she has a lead role as Jean, a former opera star who disrupts her quartet's annual concert. For "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," she plays the supporting role of Muriel, a retired housekeeper who needs hip replacement surgery in India. She won a lead Oscar for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1969) and one for supporting in "California Suite" (1978). Her career total is six nominations. Smith is listed at 100/1 odds for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, but the recent acclaim in Toronto for "Quartet" and the DVD release of the popular "Exotic" should begin her ascent up the predictions charts.
It has been 32 years since the last Academy Awards victory for De Niro ("Raging Bull," 1980) and 21 years since his sixth and most recent nomination ("Cape Fear," 1991). His first win was as a supporting actor in "The Godfather, Part II" (1974), and his second was in lead. He now has a good chance at 9/1 for a bid in Best Supporting Actor as Pat Peoples, the father of a former teacher returning from a mental institution.
Streep herself could contend with an 18th career nod for the comedy "Hope Springs." She played the lead role of Kay Soames, a woman going to counseling with her husband of 30 years. The film did well at the box office but had mediocre reviews. With 50/1 odds, a fourth win would seem unlikely even if she is nominated.
Sally Field prevailed the only two times she was nodded for an Oscar, in lead roles for "Norma Rae" (1979) and "Places in the Heart" (1984). It has been 28 years since that final victory and nomination. She is also in "Lincoln," in which she plays the supporting role of the President's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Field has solid 8/1 odds to win a third time.
In the film "Flight," Denzel Washington portrays Whip, an airline pilot who saves a plane from crashing. With five career nominations, he earned trophies in supporting for "Glory" (1989) and in lead for "Training Day" (2001). He currently has 50/1 odds in the predictions center.
The other two-time acting winners are at 100/1 and would need lots of extra momentum to make the three-timers club this year. Sean Penn ("This Must Be the Place") previously won lead Oscars for "Mystic River" (2003) and "Milk" (2008). Tom Hanks ("Cloud Atlas") earned his awards in lead roles for "Philadelphia" (1993) and "Forrest Gump" (1994). Michael Caine ("The Dark Knight Rises") prevailed in supporting for "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and "The Cider House Rules" (1999). Jessica Lange ("Therese Raquin) had a win in supporting for "Tootsie" (1982) and as a lead in "Blue Sky" (1994).
Katharine Hepburn is the all-time leader in Oscar wins for acting with four. All of her victories were as a lead actress: "Morning Glory" (1933), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), "The Lion in Winter" (1968), and "On Golden Pond" (1981). Her career included 12 nominations.
Streep won her first Academy Award in supporting for "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979) and followed with lead trophies for "Sophie's Choice" (1982) and "The Iron Lady" (2011). Nicholson prevailed as a lead in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), then in supporting for "Terms of Endearment" (1983), and finally for lead again in "As Good As It Gets" (1997). Walter Brennan earned three supporting Oscars for "Come and Get It" (1936), "Kentucky" (1938), and "The Westerner" (1940). Ingrid Bergman won as a leading actress in "Gaslight" (1944) and "Anastasia" (1956) and then for supporting in "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974).