Day-Lewis, 55, becomes the first actor to win three lead Oscars. Katharine Hepburn won four in the lead actress category. Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan have also won three statuettes in a mix of both the lead and supporting categories.
Day-Lewis' immersive work as America's 16th president in "Lincoln" became one of the Oscar season's most celebrated turns from the moment the movie screened at the New York Film Festival in early October. The British-born actor also won the Golden Globe and awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, along with enough critics prizes to decorate multiple mantles.
The notoriously selective Day-Lewis has no immediate projects on the horizon.
"I cannot do the work I love to do unless I take time away from it," Day-Lewis said at a tribute held in his honor at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January. "In the time taken away from it when -- God forbid -- I re-engage with life, it allows me to do the work in hopes that I might bring something to that work.”
The 85th Academy Awards are being held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday night, in a televised ceremony hosted by Seth MacFarlane.