So I have officially begun to worry about Heath Ledger's Oscar prospects for Brokeback Mountain. He has four traditional Oscar pluses to work with. 1) He's starring in a movie that will get nominated for Best Picture. 2) He's doing an accent 3) The film is seen as a turning point in his career and 4) He's sensational in the movie (the quality of a performance does play into the whole Oscar game, even if its never the deciding factor) But he's got several traditional problems.
Vote splitting: His Casanova performance is being called "career rescuing" --which is exactly what early buzz called the Brokeback turn. (How many times in one year can you save your career?), Age: He's 26. That's 1 year younger than Matt Damon when he was the youngest nominees in years for Good Will Hunting. That's 3 years younger than the youngest winner ever (Adrien Brody The Pianist) and much younger than the median nominee age. Fictional: This is the real problem. The one that worries me. For reasons which I've never completely fathomed most awards giving entities believe that portrayals of real people be they living or dead are automatically more impressive than performances of fictional characters. It's not even a point one can argue. It's statistically one of the truest biases year after year after year.
So cross your fingers for Heath and if you're an Academy voter and you love the "real" just think about how lived in and authentic this performance feels. It deserves a high rank on your ballot.