Best actor virtual roundtable – In an alternate universe, Jack Black beats Daniel Day-Lewis?

Thelma Adams
Yahoo! Movies Oscars Blog

In this week's virtual roundtable, we return to Best Actor -- and, yes, Daniel Day-Lewis as "Lincoln." Could anyone possibly beat the two-time Oscar winner? What is it about this performance that stands head and shoulders above all others (or doesn't)? And, if you could add one actor's name to the list from the year, whose would it be?

Jonathan Lisecki (writer/director, Independent Spirit nominee "Gayby"): I don't think people gave Jamie Foxx enough credit for his work in "Django Unchained."

Thelma Adams: I always thought it was odd that his picture was prominent on the poster, he has the title role, he's won an Oscar before -- and yet all the awards buzz was about the white guys, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. What about Foxx's performance worked for you, Jonathan?

[Related: Click here to get the lowdown on the Oscars]

Jonathan Lisecki: I feel like the showier performances of the film were great and easy to note, but if you didn't buy the central love story, the movie wouldn't have worked at all. And Foxx and Kerry Washington sold it with their subtle, truthful work.

Carla Stockton (freelance writer): Ah, the DDL question. There are icons in our culture, deservedly so or not, who are permanently affixed to the pedestal of our idolatry. Day-Lewis has been among the smallest group of iconic actors since "My Left Foot," and perhaps deservedly so. But in "Lincoln," I was so utterly aware of "The Work" that I didn't see a character so much as an actor straining to project a character, and thus I was unable to suspend my disbelief and embrace Lincoln.

Thelma Adams: So, if not Day-Lewis, then who?

Carla Stockton: Who else? How do we define what constitutes an award-winning performance? Is it a career high point? If so, DDL has not delivered that, in my view. Bradley Cooper has, and he has shown what the guidance of a real actor's director can do to push the delivery to that pinnacle state.

Nell Minow (Movie Mom): really wanted to see John Hawkes nominated for best actor for "The Sessions."

Thelma Adams: He was an early contender since the film remiered the Sundance Film Festival last year. He got Golden Globe and SAG nominations. I don't love the movie, but I loved his performance in it. And it's ironic that Helen Hunt got the Oscar nomination in supporting but Hawkes fell off the list. What about Hawkes's performance made it so outstanding?

Nell Minow: The subtlety and wit and longing and humanity he brought to that performance was beautifully expressed. And I'd love to see Denzel Washington (my favorite actor of our era) win this year for "Flight." He is always an actor of breathtaking precision and detail, but in this performance he opened up more than he ever has before, with a vulnerability and fearlessness that was, for me, the best performance of the year. Daniel Day-Lewis was unquestionably brilliant as "Lincoln." That opening scene showed us his humility, wisdom, patience, and sympathy. Later we saw his strength, his pain, his struggle, his ferocity. I won't object if/when he wins. But my own best actor award goes to Denzel.

Carla Stockton: I agree that Denzel's delivery was superior. His was an honest portrayal, delivered seamlessly without apparent effort.

[Related: Who will triumph at the Oscars? Share your selections]

Trey Speegle: (formerly of Us Weekly, now an independent artist): Well, I have won a few polls in my day, not by judging performances and picking who should win, but by taking the temperature of the room, so to speak, which is pretty easy these days. DDL looks like a sure thing, but if not, I think the multiple nominations for "Silver Linings Playbook" could help Cooper if [the film] keeps building momentum. I'd still go with DDL.

Gene Seymour (film critic): I'm already on record decrying Jack Black's omission from this year's nominees. His performance in "Bernie" was every bit as masterly a disappearing act as DDL's. The moral complexities were as dense as those to be found in Denzel's "Flight" turn (still my pers it could be argued, better).

Melissa Powell (documentary filmmaker, "A Woman Like That"): I thought Jean-Louis Trintignant gave a purely masterful performance in "Amour." Internal, but completely human -- in fact, all the performances in "Amour" give the Austrian chilly formalism a warmth that hooks the audience. And I'm in big agreement with Gene: Jack Black's performance in "Bernie" was terrific, complex and physical, funny and moving. I love DDL, but ...

Thelma Adams: It seems like we are all suffering from Daniel Day-Lewis fatigue, but someone has to be the standard bearer for "Lincoln" as the movie loses steam (DGA, SAG, PGA snubs) in the final month before the awards.

[Related: Get a complete Oscar ballot here]

That's a wrap for this week's virtual roundtable in Yahoo! Movies' runup to the Academy Awards, to be televised on Sunday, Feb. 24. If you'd like to chime in and you have the Oscar chops, DM me @thelmadams on Twitter.