Remember to Thank Your Significant Other -- Part 1

The Academy Awards presentation is just over two weeks from now. And it's time to take a look at the acting nominations for this year. I had originally planned to cover both actors and actresses in this blog entry.  However, I decided it might be best to stick with the former this time around. So this is just a review of the actors and the roles that have earned them nominations this year. The nominees for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress will be in my next blog entry.

 

Best Actor
 

  • Javier BardemBiutiful  --  A Supporting Actor winner for No Country for Old Men, Bardem is nominated for a foreign film, playing Uxbal, a man trying to come to terms with his life while he still has time.  Not many awards are given to actors in foreign language films. You can count them on one hand: Sophia Loren, Roberto Benigni, Marion Cotillard. Bardem might join that list this year.
  • Jeff BridgesTrue Grit  --  Last year’s Lead Actor winner for Crazy Heart, Bridges took on the role of Rooster Cogburn.  John Wayne won his only Oscar for the same role, over 40 years ago. History might repeat itself, but the Academy doesn’t usually award people two years in a row. (Any guesses on when they have?  Send in your answers.) Still, Bridges is a Hollywood favorite.
  • Jesse EisenbergThe Social Network  --  A talented young actor, one of the youngest nominees in Oscar history.  His portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has made Hollywood sit up and take notice.  Oscar isn’t known for handing younger actors an award – except in the Supporting categories. But if 27-year-old Eisenberg wins, he’ll be the youngest ever Best Actor.
  • Colin FirthThe King’s Speech  --  Nominated last year for A Single Man, Firth lost to Bridges. Now they face each other again. As King George VI, Firth gives one of the best performances of his career. He’s already taken home the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild awards this year. He’ll probably receive the BAFTA this coming Sunday. We’ll have to wait two weeks to learn if he makes a clean sweep of the awards season with an Oscar. (UPDATE: Firth did win the BAFTA for Best Actor.)
  • James Franco127 Hours --  Franco took on the daunting task of what is essentially a one-man show. In the role of Aron Ralston, a young man faced with a literal life-or-death decision, Franco was on screen throughout the movie. He gave a portrayal of strength, vulnerability, and determination. Another great performance that will give Oscar voters a lot to mull over.
     


Best Supporting Actor
 

  • Christian BaleThe Fighter --  Normally a leading man, Bale took on the supporting role of Dicky Eklund, a man striving to overcome addiction and almost overwhelming expectations of family and friends.  Bale is a strong contender for the Oscar this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won. The Academy loves to give this award to leads who take on smaller roles. Just ask George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins...
  • John HawkesWinter’s Bone  --  Hawkes began his professional career here in Texas. He’s worked steadily in movies and TV since the late 80s and has had regular or recurring roles in the series Taken, Deadwood, Lost, and Eastbound and Down. But I’m so glad that he’s received recognition for his performance in Winter’s Bone. As Teardrop, Hawkes takes a character that could be a stereotype and gives him depth and dimension.
  • Jeremy RennerThe Town  --  Another actor nominated two years in a row, Renner lost to Christoph Waltz last year. Renner is another actor who can make a 3D character out of a stereotype. You can’t help watching him, even in scenes with the lead actor. The Academy has been known to give the Oscar to a repeat nominee. There’s a chance they’ll do so this year.
  • Mark RuffaloThe Kids are All Right  --  Ruffalo is a character actor with leading man looks. While he has played the lead many times, most of his impact has been in supporting parts. As Paul, a man whose past comes back to give him a new role in life, this could be the year that Ruffalo takes home a well-earned Oscar. He is another actor who can bring substance to any role.
  • Geoffrey RushThe King’s Speech  --  As Lionel Logue, Rush portrays the man who helped the future king of England, George VI, overcome a terrible stammer and gain confidence as a public speaker and leader. The king went on to lead his country through World War II. While Colin Firth is the lead, Rush gives an equally fine performance, supporting Firth as Logue supported the king. The actors show how two very different men can become the very best of friends. Rush won Best Actor for Shine. He might match Lemmon, DeNiro, Nicholson, Hackman, Spacey, and Washington as actors who have won for both lead and supporting roles.

     

My personal favorites for this year are Colin Firth (whom I’ve loved for many years) and John Hawkes. Who are your choices?

 

Comments

I will cheer out loud if

I will cheer out loud if Colin Firth wins Best Actor (and be half-mad with suspense until they announce that particular award...). Jeff Bridges did a wonderful job on a wonderful movie, True Grit, but I hope it's Colin Firth's year. As for Best Supporting Actor, the only performance I've seen in that list is Geoffrey Rush's. He's always watchable, and in The King's Speech he is funny, touching, sly, and vulnerable, all in one. But the odds-makers give this one to Christian Bale, who is of course a very accomplished actor (Fun fact: He's also Gloria Steinem's stepson!). Moreover, in recent years it's been Best Supporting Actress, not Best Supporting Actor, that's the wild card category for the Oscars. But I suspect this particular category could be more competitive than it might seem at first blush. Good luck to all.

I'm with you about Colin

I'm with you about Colin Firth. He's an incredible talent who isn't afraid to show the vulnerability of his characters. Jeff Bridges has the more showy role; but I hope that this year, the Academy acknowledges that playing someone trying to control his emotions is just as impressive. I did love Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech. He was the perfect counterbalance to Firth's reserved portrayal of the king.

But, as you say, Christian Bale is the favorite. Many of us remember him as a child actor in Empire of the Sun and Branagh's Henry V. He showed great talent from the start, so it's good to see him get this kind of recognition.

Thanks for writing!