Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
What can I really add to this race? George Clooney has publicly conceded. I'm sure the other nominees have as well. Daniel Day-Lewis has won almost everything. Should the Oscars be any different? No.
George Clooney for Michael Clayton probably has the "best" shot for an upset. Although, the chances of that happening are not very good. I would have been more concerned if Clooney didn't already have an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor in 2005 for Syriana). He has one though, so Hollywood has no reason to reward him over a better performance from Day-Lewis.
Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood is clearly the frontrunner. He has the Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and plenty of critics' awards. His performance of Plainview is iconic and I think it's the best of the decade. Daniel becomes the character in every way to the point that you really think Plainview and Day-Lewis are two different people. Blood might not win Picture, Director, or Screenplay, but it will take this.
Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an actor I admire. I really hope he wins an Oscar one day (0/2 lifetime). The problem with him this year is that his performance just doesn't match up to Daniel Day-Lewis. Plus, Sweeney Todd never really gained the momentum some thought.
Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah had a great 2007. Honestly, I didn't see this film. I've heard it was good. I also think this nomination was also given to him for not just this film, but also No Country for Old Men. A lot of people don't know this, but Tommy is an Oscar winner ('93 Best Supporting Actor for The Fugitive). This is actually his first nomination since then. Still, I really don't see him being a factor in this race.
Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises gave a great performance this year that sadly really hasn't been recognized. I saw this movie rather late, but I was glad I made time to see it. People are talking about Bardem and Day-Lewis as bad asses this year. Well, what about Viggo fighting two guys completely naked? That is the bad ass moment of 2007 for me. Unfortunately for Viggo, bad ass moments don't win you Oscars.
Some really great performances this year make this a stacked category, but there should be no doubt. I would be absolutely shocked if Daniel Day-Lewis fails to win this Oscar. In the last decade it would rank up there with Crash beating Brokeback or Polanski beating Scorsese.