Friday, June 29, 2007

Halfway Point: Best Actor (So Far)

2007 is halfway over. Time to recalibrate those Oscar predictions... But first, a few thoughts on where we've been and 2007's lead actors to date. If I voted today on my film bitch awards, my shortlist would probably read like so..
And if the Oscar voters themselves had to pick five leading men with only January to June slim pickings available? I'm assuming the lucky guys would be
  • Chris Cooper -Breach (former winner and anything to avoid acclaimed but off the wall fare like the performances in Bug or Black Snake Moan)
  • Glen Hansard -Once (already beloved by a tiny pocket of moviegoers)
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt -The Lookout (a nod to the future)
  • Seth Rogen-Knocked Up (comedic spot & hit film)
  • Adam Sandler -Reign Over Me (they like sad clowns)
...though they aren't so lucky since none of them are likely red carpet walkers at the end of the year (unless you're talking Golden Globe comedy/musical or People's Choice festivities. I'd like to stay hopeful on Once's end of year possibilities. It's a marvelous film, it sinks into your heart and stays there (I still remember it vividly and it's been weeks) but I fear it's too grimy and low key for awards hype. You will hear the title constantly come the annual parade of critical top ten lists in December so get thee to the theater post haste if you haven't seen it yet.

Who is your choice for best so far? [My updated Oscar predix]


Glenn Dunks said...

I have two contenders for this category at the moment, shockingly. Two are ineligible and the other is from an Aussie film so nobody in N America will ever see it!

Brendan Cowell - Noise
Sebastian Koch - The Lives of Others
Ulrich Muhe - The Lives of Others.

Cowell and Muhe could possibly make it to the final five, but really - who knows.

And I wasn't that big on Gyllenhaal. He was fine, but nothing special. Naturally (it is Australia) movies like Once, Bug, Black Snake Moan, Away From Here, Knocked Up and The Lookout haven't been released.

Beau said...

Shannon - Bug
Hansard - Once
Pinsent - Away from Her
Gyllenhaal - Zodiac
Sandler - Reign O'er Me

I'd give it to Jake if I had to choose.

Anonymous said...

About American Gangster, I think overall it may be a decent movie, but after the Departed it may not get a nomination. ( even if it was in the works before the Departed).

As far as Denzel and Russell. I think the Academy will see Denzel's role as too similar to training day (although it may not be because Frank Lucas was an actual person and seems like he had two sides to him).

I do agree that Denzel's role seem a bit more baity than Russell's, but who knows.

I hear Christian Bale gave a wonderful performance in Rescue Dawn, so hopefully he'll get a nomination.

Anonymous said...

No nominations for "Old Men"? Unless everyone is supporting and no one is a lead, this seems to be just about impossible. Then again, I thought the same thing on the distaff side for "Evening".

I like Tommy Lee Jones' chances here better than I do for "In the Valley of Elah".

Anonymous said...

I don't think Denzel's role will actually play anything like Training Day in the context of the film. The similarities are pretty superficial (ie, Denzel playing a black crook, and that's about it). It's like saying the Academy won't nominate Denzel for playing 3 heroic black men who suffered racial injustice at the hands of whites (ie Malcolm X, The Hurricane, Cry Freedom). The performances stood on their own, despite any superficial similarities.

In Training Day, he basically played a semi-psychotic mad dog. Almost pure evil. With Frank Lucas (his American Gangster character), his character is much more placid and quiet. A family man who looked after all his kin and his community. More an anti-hero than a villian. There's going to be far more ambiguity at work here than in Training Day. Having read the script for AG, Frank Lucas plays like a black Michael Corleone in terms of complexity and contradictions. Oscar will eat up Denzel in this role.

Anonymous said...

I also think Washington is going to win the SAG (he's never won before, and he's one of those actors that SAG will want to say they've given the top prize to at least once. Especially when the likes of Renee Zellweger have 2 SAG awards to their name)and lose the Oscar to Phoenix or Day-Lewis.

Washington is always a frontrunner when he's nominated. He's never there to make up the numbers as the 5th nominee with zero chance of winning (ie Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland). But I don't think AMPAS will want give him a 3rd oscar yet, even if he's good enough to win. Which is why I don't see him winning, even if he picks up major precursors.

BAFTA are also giving Denzel some sort of lifetime achievement award in November. So I won't be surprised if BAFTA finally caves in and gives him their Best Actor award, after ignoring him for years (similar to the situation with SAG. They need to cross him off their list)

Anonymous said...

Once will get no love from the AMPAS (Hairspray will probably win best song for some shit written for the credite), and that makes me sad. It's the best movie I've seen in forever.

Dame James said...

I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was utterly brilliant in "Zodiac". He found ways to take what could have been a boring catalyst and made him hilariously earnest (the Aqua Velva scene) and scarily obsessed (the scene where Sevigny finds him laboring over those Zodiac files). It's the kind of a performance that will get lost in the shuffle come Oscar time, but I find it fascinating.

J.D. said...

Wait -- Nat, you haven't even seen Breach. What right do you have to doubt if Cooper's actually good or not? (He is. EXCELLENT actually.)


whoa nelly. when did i say ANYTHING about the quality of cooper's performance?

i didn't.

Kurtis O said...

I still to this day struggle with how I feel about "Bug". It's by far the best I've ever seen Ashley Judd (although I missed "Come Early Morning"), and Michael Shannon was really convincing. However, I had trouble deciding whether both of their performances were fearlessly ambitious or just insanely over-the-top. Perhaps both. I found myself laughing at many of Shannon's character's psychotic rants, and wondered if the film was causing me to feel the wrong emotions. then I remembered, I'm not in that way, the film and the character elicited precisely the right response.

Anonymous said...

The other anonymous

Well I haven't read the I'm sure both characters are different.

J.D. said...

Oh, well, I don't think things through. You just wrote it like he's a better choice for Oscar just cause he's not "edgy/different". Sorry :]

Anonymous said...

Glad you included a shot of Simon Pegg there. Hot Fuzz is the best film I've seen this year so far: hilarious, well paced, superbly acted.

David Lay said...

i agree with you on almost all of these. I just put up a review of Black Snake moan on Quite good, i thought. thanks for your insight.

Anonymous said...

Kamikaze Camel - I like your picks. Those are the best performances I've seen this year by guys in clear leading roles.

- Franz Conrad

Anonymous said...

Penn - The Namesake
Butler - 300
Rogen - Knocked Up
Hansard - Once
Costner - Mr. Brooks

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, Christian Bale should be nominated. I think he is the strongest contender. This guy can act circles around his contemporaries. He is the greatest actor of his generation. The performance in Rescue Dawn is by far superior to anything else this year.