LOS ANGELES Daniel Day-Lewis is expected to make Hollywood history by winning his third Best Actor Oscar on February 24 but the public is split over who deserves the Best Supporting Actor prize, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.
Day-Lewis, 55, has already picked up almost every major award this season for playing U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's Civil War-era drama "Lincoln" and he is front-runner for the top British BAFTA award on February 10.
A Reuters Ipsos poll of 909 Americans found 21 percent thought British-born Day-Lewis, 55, should win and 26 percent said he was most likely to win Best Actor at the Oscars for Lincoln, a role he assumed both off and on set during filming.
He is up against Hugh Jackman, who came second in the Reuters poll for musical "Les Miserables," Bradley Cooper in the quirky romance "Silver Linings Playbook," Joaquin Phoenix in cult drama "The Master" and Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot in "Flight."
If Day-Lewis does win, he will be the first man to take home the Best Actor statue three times, having won the award in 1990 for playing severely disabled Irish artist Christy Brown in "My Left Foot" and in 2008 for his role as oil prospector Daniel Plainview in "There Will be Blood."
But Day-Lewis, who chooses his roles carefully and has only appeared in 10 films in the past 20 years, was not taking a win for granted. It took Spielberg three attempts to persuade him to sign up for the lead role in "Lincoln."
"Members of the Academy love surprises, so about the worst thing that can happen to you is if you've built up an expectation," the actor told reporters after winning the Screen Actors Guild trophy in Los Angeles last week.
Bookmakers, however, were not expecting any surprises, with Day-Lewis the clear favorite to win the Best Actor award.
But the public was less certain on who would bag the award for Best Supporting Actor from the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The field of five includes Alan Arkin from Iran hostage drama "Argo," Robert De Niro as the father in "Silver Linings Playbook," Philip Seymour Hoffman from "The Master," Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln," and Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained."
The results at awards ceremonies so far this year have been mixed.
Jones won at the Screen Actors Guild, Waltz won the Golden Globe, and Seymour Hoffman was chosen Best Supporting Actor at the Critics Choice Movie Awards.
Almost half of the respondents to the online poll, conducted Friday through Tuesday, were unsure who should win at the Oscars in the supporting actor category.
Some 20 percent chose Jones, while 14 percent picked De Niro as the actor most likely to take home the Oscar.
The accuracy of the poll uses a statistical measure called a "credibility interval" and is precise to within 2.8 percentage points.
Bookmakers, however, put 66-year-old Jones as the front-runner to win his second Oscar for his role as liberal congressman Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln." He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1994 for "The Fugitive." (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh)