Oscars 2013: Daniel Day-Lewis vs. Hugh Jackman for Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, who is up for his role in 'Lincoln,' is the front runner.

February 20, 2013, 4:33 PM

Feb. 21, 2013— -- For an Oscar nominees roster featuring shocking snubs and surprises, it seems the battle for the Best Actor race may be the only category not stumping awards analysts this year.

While the category boasts esteemed actors whose performances range from a bipolar man returning to his family after a stint in a mental institution to a reformed prisoner hunted in 19th century France for breaking parole, Daniel Day Lewis is considered the stand-out favorite, according to film critics.

"It feels like the moment we even heard Daniel Day Lewis was even being cast in Spielberg's 'Lincoln' biopic, he had it wrapped up at that point," Entertainment Weekly's senior editor Thom Geier told ABC News.

"Everyone seems to have bowed down before him and that transformation that he undertook for this role," he said. "So I would be shocked - I think everyone would be shocked - if someone other than Daniel Day Lewis ascended the podium Sunday night."

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Lewis' performance as the American president looking to ratify an amendment to abolish slavery at any cost in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" has received numerous accolades. The actor has already picked up a SAG Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

"He has that gravitas," Variety's senior film critic Justin Chang told ABC News. "He plays the most beloved American president and he doesn't even look ridiculous for a second doing it."

"It's interesting because this will make Daniel Day Lewis, I believe, the first actor to win three lead-actor Oscars," Chang said. "People have won three Oscars before, but not all in the lead-actor category. It's pretty remarkable."Previously, Lewis has taken home the Academy Award for his role as oil tycoon Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood" in 2008, as well as his turn as Christy Brown, the quadriplegic who teaches himself how to write with his appendage in 1990's "My Left Foot."

Lewis has also been nominated for Best Actor for his roles in 2002's "Gangs of New York" and "In the Name of the Father" in 1993.

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"It's huge [for Lewis]," Chang said. "It's kind of saying in some ways, he is 'the actor.'"

But Geier said that while it's difficult to not write off other actors vying for the Academy Award in this race, Hugh Jackman stands out to him as a worthy contender to Lewis' Lincoln.

"I think if Daniel Day Lewis weren't in the race, it probably would be Hugh Jackman's sort of valedictory march to the podium," Geier said.

"He's beloved in Hollywood, he hosted the Oscars successfully, and he gives a performance tailored to his talents," he said.

Chang agreed, but said he viewed the actor's nomination as "kind of an award or a reward."

"I think there's a lot of goodwill for [Jackman] in the way he stretched himself. He's someone who has kind of proven his musical theater chops and has actually taken them on," he said. "I think [the Academy] is pretty fond of his work."

But does Jackman's bread-stealing Jean Valjean stand a chance against Lewis' Honest Abe?

"It seems like it was [Jackman's] Oscar to win, but when you're going up against Daniel Day Lewis in such an iconic role, it's one of those times when it's such an honor to be nominated," Geier said.

This is Jackman's first Oscar nomination for his role as Valjean in "Les Miserables."

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