Day-Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's biopic. He has two previous Oscar wins ("My Left Foot" and "There Will Be Blood") in four total nominations.
Jackman plays Jean Valjean, who struggles with the law after stealing bread to feed his sister's children. He has no previous Oscar nominations.
Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a former teacher who moves back in with his mother and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife following a stint in a mental institution. He has no previous Oscar nominations.
Washington plays an airline pilot who saves a plane from crashing. He has won two Oscars ("Glory," "Training Day") out of five total nominations.
Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a drifter who assists a popular faith leader following World War II. He has two previous Oscar nominations ("Gladiator" and "Walk the Line").