For my next Oscar entry, I will now turn to the Best Actor race. There is an irony here. This is stacking up to be a weak year for movies and for nominations in all categories. At the same time, the Best Actor race is quickly becoming not just crowded, but overcrowded.
Of course, this always happens. No matter what else, Hollywood and movies are so male oriented that no matter how weak a year it is in movies, the men always come out ahead. As Spencer Tracy said when he was asked whether he should get top billing over his female co-star, This isn’t the Titanic (though there are some in the industry who are suggesting we might be reaching suck a critical stage—but that’s a different story). At the same time, this weakness will probably have some effect even on this category and that is on who will win.
DANIEL DAY LEWIS (Lincoln): At this point, there seems to be only one sure thing (the bet your grandmother’s farm on it, etc.) and that is Daniel Day Lewis will be doing a threepeat by winning the Oscar for Lincoln. Normally, getting a third Oscar period, especially in this short a period of time, is almost impossible. But as was mentioned, this is a weak year for nominations. This means there is a lot of competition to be nominated, but not to win. In addition, it’s what’s called a gimmick nomination—Lewis is playing a real person (ole honest Abe) and it’s a big budget film directed by Steven Spielberg. Nuff said.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX (The Master): Lewis’s only real competition and as the days near the voting deadline, we’ll see if the forward momentum leaves Lewis (or Lewis peaks too soon) and it goes to Phoenix. When it comes to The Master, the critics love it, but the regular people (who vote for the Oscars) don’t seem to so much. But Phoenix’s performance is about the only thing anyone agrees on, so he should easily receive a nom.
RICHARD GERE (Arbitrage): Almost a sure thing. The industry has been wanting to give Gere a nomination for some time (especially starting with Chicago). He’s not a great actor, but he’s now been around a long time, paid his dues, and gives solid performances in solid movies. He also has never rested on his looks, but has continually picked roles that stretch him (or try to stretch him—when it comes down to it, he’s not Gumby, damn it). Gere is the sort of actor that Hollywood respects, but can almost never give an Oscar to, but they do look to try to give him a nomination at some point so they get it over with so they never have to worry about it again. For references, this is like John Wayne—who did go on to win one, so you never know; Gene Kelly; Dennis Hopper, etc. It’s what is called a career award or nomination in industry parlance.
Special note: there generally aren’t any women that come to mind that fit this sort of nomination—women rarely get career Oscars or career noms. Their nominations almost invariably come from an appreciation of their performance (make whatever social comment you want here).
That’s as far as I can go right now. The rest are still unknown quantities. Jean Louis Trintignant was considered a shoe in for Michael Hanake’s Amour, but he now may get lost in the last minute shuffle. The others being considered are getting good buzz, but are to some degree still unknown quantities or it’s still unclear how people are responding to the performance. This includes: John Hawkes (The Sessions—very good buzz); Denzel Washington (Flight—getting really good buzz and Washington doesn’t do badly come Oscar time); Hugh Jackman (after years of whining at not being cast in a musical, he finally has been, but I never predict when it comes to movie musicals until they open—movie musicals are too likely to crash and burn); Bradley Cooper (The Silver Linings Playbook—unknown quantity, though the previews look a little too formulaic and sentimental for my tastes); Anthony Hopkins (unknown quantity and he doesn’t particularly look like Hitchcock); Bill Murray (Hyde Park on the Hudson—it didn’t work when he went tres serious in The Razor’s Edge, but maybe second time’s the charm).
That’s it right now, but like in the presidential elections, polls change daily, so keep checking back in.