My umpteenth post on the Best Actor race. My apologies:
If you ask people who is going to be competing in Oscar's Best Actor this year you'll hear these three names: Hoffman for Capote. Phoenix for Walk the Line. Ledger for Brokeback Mountain. It's only late October so no one is locked as much as expected to place at this point. Possible stumbling blocks? Hoffman is a supporting star (see Giamatti's surprise snub last year), Phoenix is not going to campaign (uh oh -they like gladhanding), and Ledger is a young pretty thing (and that naked gold man isn't gay --pretty and youthful only helps win "Oscar" over if you're an actress). So they all have hurdles, though all are still likely. From there it gets trickier. The other names you hear tossed around? Jones for Three Burials, Fiennes for something or other, Strathairn for Goodnight and Good Luck, Murphy for Breakfast on Pluto, Mortenson for A History of Violence, Crowe for Cinderella Man, Howard for Hustle & Flow, and Lane for The Producers some of which are clearly possible and some which feel absurd [at least to me] as competitors. But are there surprises in store?
5 Somewhat Under the Radar
Johnny Depp's last Oscar date came for one of his most underwhelming performances, Finding Neverland. That proves that he can just ride the newfound love. Can he coast into a third nomination for a more flamboyant performance in a far less palatable, less Oscar-bait film in The Libertine? Anthony Hopkins got good--and more importantly "warm"-- buzz for The World's Fastest Indian at Toronto. Then it seems like the film was going to 2006. Now it's competing with Tommy Lee Jones in the field of 'former winner getting a perfunctory one-week release in December to qualify'. Will it work? Eric Bana gets top billing in Munich. Hulk aside, both Troy and the Australian Chopper make him seem eminently nominatable at some point in the future. Is the future now? Spielberg films aren't really great at getting acting Oscars, though. Jeff Daniels' fantastic work in The Squid and the Whale could encounter the problems that derailed Jeff Bridges for a similar role last year. How do you get nominated while starring in a small film and superbly playing a horrible person who doesn't happen to be a villain, doesn't have a disability, and doesn't come from a bio-pic. It's tough to do. Still, Daniels has never had his due and if they're feeling generous it could happen. And finally, we conclude with George Clooney. It's not like people aren't talking about Clooney. But they're talking about him as a filmmaker. As an actor he still doesn't have that much respect beyond 'has good taste'. Could Syriana change that?