"Christoph Waltz's performance is so amazing in 'Django Unchained' that it towers over the whole movie," an insider tells Gold Derby about his role as a German ex-dentist-turned-bounty-hunter in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming spaghetti western. "We're moving him up to the lead Oscar race" where he'll compete against costar Jamie Foxx, who portrays the title character, a freed slave who teams up with Waltz to rescue his enslaved wife (Kerry Washington).
Previously, Oscar pundits presumed that Waltz would compete in the supporting race opposite costar Leonardo DiCaprio, who portrays a sinister plantation owner. DiCaprio is overdue to bag his first Oscar. Waltz won the supporting slot for "Inglourious Basterds" and Jamie Foxx took the lead actor trophy for "Ray." If Waltz triumphs in lead after prevailing first in supporting, he'll follow the Oscar path of past Oscar double champs Kevin Spacey ("The Usual Suspects," "American Beauty") and Denzel Washington ("Glory," "Training Day").
Waltz enters an already crowded lead category where Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln"), Joaquin Phoenix ("The Master") and Denzel Washington ("Flight") are considered locks for nominations, according to the latest racetrack odds and predictions generated by experts polled by Gold Derby. That leaves only two slots open for such other formidable contenders as Anthony Hopkins ("Hitchcock"), John Hawkes ("The Sessions"), Hugh Jackman ("Les Miserables") and Bradley Cooper ("Silver Linings Playbook") – and now Waltz. Three of those top contenders are in Weinstein Co. releases: Waltz, Phoenix and Cooper. While that creates a competitive problem at the Oscars, the trio will be separated at the Golden Globes where Cooper will move over to the comedy/musical race and face a formidable challenge from Jackman.