25 February 2013 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Arguing whether Daniel Day-Lewis is a greater actor than, say, Laurence Olivier is like arguing whether Messi is more talented than Pelé. It's not just down to the statistics

Statistically speaking, with his third best actor Oscar in hand, Daniel Day-Lewis is now officially the greatest actor of all time. But statistics lie. Richard Burton, the greatest actor of his generation, was nominated for six Oscars and never won. Roberto Benigni did. Cary Grant, who almost single-handedly invented motion pictures, never won an Oscar. F Murray Abraham did. Heath Ledger, the most gifted actor of his generation, won his first and only Oscar – for best supporting actor – after he was dead. Art Carney, Nicolas Cage and Richard Dreyfuss were all very much alive when they were singled out as best actor of the year. Yes, Art Carney. As previously noted, statistics lie. Especially when they involve Nicolas Cage.

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- Joe Queenan

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