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Poll: Can Tom Hanks pull off Best Actor Oscar upset?

By Marcus James Dixon
Jan 10 2014 06:00 am
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Are we all underestimating Tom Hanks' Oscar chances for "Captain Phillips"? (Vote in our poll at the bottom of this article!)

His raw, emotional performance in the final 10 minutes of this hostage flick would normally propel anyone to the top of the Best Actor list. The film and Hanks reaped bids from the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice and most recently BAFTA where it picked up nine nominations. So why is Hanks still down in lowly fifth place in Gold Derby's predictions?

The simple answer most awards pundits abide by is that Hanks has already won two Best Actor Oscars ("Philadelphia," 1993 and "Forrest Gump," 1994), so there's just no urgency to reward him again.

Well, try telling that to Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep, both of whom won their third Oscars in the past two years -- him for "Lincoln" (2012) and her for "The Iron Lady" (2011).

The Academy is on a threepeat streak in recent years, and Hanks might just have a juicy enough performance and overall body of work to join the exclusive three-timers club. (The other members are Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan; Katharine Hepburn remains the all-time leader with four acting Oscars.)

Another reason for Hanks' fifth-place status in our predictions is that he's up against some unbelievably tough competition this year. Can anyone recall such a stacked Best Actor category in recent memory? In fact, if any of the top six or seven contenders had been eligible in any other year, they would have a real shot at a win.

Gold Derby's Experts, Editors and Users currently have Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave") winning this year's Best Actor race with 21/10 odds. Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") comes in second place, with Bruce Dern ("Nebraska") in third, Robert Redford ("All is Lost") in fourth, Hanks in fifth, Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Wolf of Wall Street") in sixth and Christian Bale ("American Hustle") in seventh.

In reality, Hanks may be a bit higher on the minds of voters than fifth place. After all, he's a current member of the academy's Board of Governors, which could definitely help his cause if voters are having a hard time choosing between Hanks and the other contenders on their ballots.

He also appears in two hot Oscar contenders this year: "Captain Phillips" and "Saving Mr. Banks." That added exposure of having two roles within the same calendar year is a huge benefit, especially since his performance as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks" isn't tracking as well as initially thought. Thus, Oscar voters are now able to focus all of their love for him on the single performance from "Captain Phillips." (McConaughey is in a similar position, with not two but three talked-about performances in "Dallas Buyers Club," "Mud" and "The Wolf of Wall Street").

Hanks portrays a real-life character in "Captain Phillips," which turned out to be the winning ticket for many of the most recent Best Actor champs including Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln ("Lincoln," 2012), Colin Firth as King George V ("The King's Speech," 2010), Sean Penn as Harvey Milk ("Milk," 2008), Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview (inspired by Edward Doheny) ("There Will Be Blood," 2007), Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin ("The Last King of Scotland," 2006), Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote ("Capote," 2005), Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles ("Ray," 2004) and Adrien Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman ("The Pianist," 2002).

Do you think Hanks has what it takes to join the three-timers club at the Oscars? Cast your vote in our poll below and then make your predictions using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

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