Editor’s note: Welcome to the fifth of a 32-part series dissecting the 84th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read any other posts regarding this event, please click the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Sati of Cinematic Corner
Demián Bichir for A Better Life (2011)
previous Oscar nods: none
Verdict: A complete surprise despite SAG nomination, completely unknown actor from a movie I have not heard of until it got mentioned during Tuesday’s nominations. Then I looked him up and it turns out he was actually playing Esteban on “Weeds”. I have not seen A Better Life so I can’t comment on his performance, but it proves one thing – SAG nod is almost a guarantee for an actor to get nominated for Oscar.
George Clooneyfor The Descendants (2011)
previous Oscar wins: Syriana
previous Oscar acting nods: Michael Clayton, Up in the Air
Verdict: Clooney’s role in The Descendants is perhaps the only great thing about the movie – if it wasn’t for him, the film would lose majority of its charm and appeal. As a father of two girls and a husband of a cheating, comatose wife Clooney channels the kind of strength and vulnerability that we rarely see in his performances. And considering that he won for Syriana which along with The Descendants is nowhere near his brilliant work in two other movies he got nominated for, he is quite possibly getting his second Oscar this year.
Jean Dujardin for The Artist (2011)
previous Oscar nods: none
Verdict: Dujardin’s performance in The Artist is perhaps the most charming performance of last year. As a silent movies star he captures that particular kind of magic that allowed people to be stars back then – great smile, being very polite to his fans, being lovely and all around a genuinely sweet guy. And then when talkies come into the picture – literally – he falls into deep despair being convinced nobody wants to hear his voice. The movie, for me easily the most wonderful film that came out last year, contains many incredible scenes – most notably the dream Dujardin’s character has that shows just how much his fear overwhelms him. From all the nominees, in my opinion, that is the most remarkable and deserving performance. Dujardin doesn’t act with something many actors use as important tool in their work – his voice. But still he manages to show much more than half of the actors working today, talking, yelling or whispering. Dujardin managed to make the silence his great ally and he is truly riveting to watch.
Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
previous Oscar nods: none.
Verdict: The time has come for one of the most famous and well liked by many fans actors to have his first Oscar nomination – that is perhaps the most ecclesiastically received nomination of this year’s Academy Awards. Is it deserved? Of course an actor like Oldman deserves to have “Academy Award nominee” added in front of his name. But for me his best work will always be in The Professional. In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy he plays quiet, focused man who remains unmoved for most of the movie – he listens, he plans, he thinks. I’m not a fan of this performance – I thought Benedict and Strong were much better. But it’s nice to see Oldman finally getting some recognition for his work, especially since so many awards this season omitted him.
Brad Pitt for Moneyball (2011)
previous Oscar nods: Twelve Monkeys, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Verdict: Moneyball is not only one of the best movies of the year – it brings with it career best performance from Pitt who plays a man determined to end his losing streak in life with a lot of quiet desperation and determination. For a lot of time Pitt plays his character using just his eyes, which express everything that is happening inside his mind. Pitt has many triumphant scenes in the film – most notably the one where his character is listening to his daughter sing for him. It’s one of those performances that is so good you actually forget you are watching someone pretend to be another person. And when that someone is a person as famous as Pitt it is truly a big achievement.
To sum up: It’s interesting how much irony this year’s Best Actor in a Leading Role nominations have – the Academy chose to nominate three people without previous nominations at the same time omitting the most deserving performance of last year – Michael Fassbender’s tortured Brandon in Shame. And yet the Oscar will be probably be handed to someone who was not only nominated three times but also has one Academy Award. Ah, how badly I want to shout “For shame!”
Tags: Best Actor, Cinematic Corner