Over the next few weeks (when I feel like it and get through the remainder of the Oscar nominees) I will examine each of the races in the top eight categories. I am in no way trying to keep this objective or subjective; like with everything else in this blog, I’m writing what I think and don’t really filter it.
Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill – Moneyball
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Of the major races, this one is the closest to being decided. Christopher Plummer has gained nothing but rave reviews for his turn as the gay father who comes out after decades of marriage in Beginners, only to find out he’s dying of cancer. Kenneth Branagh is a scene-stealer in My Week With Marilyn (which, again Michelle Williams’ Monroe is saying something) and pre-weight loss Jonah Hill holds down the fort against Pitt’s likely statue winning performance in Moneyball. Nick Nolte, a previous nominee and Max von Sydow snuck into the last couple of slots, but could have easily been replaced by a number of actors.
Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners. His performance was both luminous and heartbreaking all at the same time, and evokes visions of our own mortality. Have we led the lives we’ve wanted? Or have we hid behind masks of convenience, just to let the neighbors think well of us? Plummer asks these questions and more in a performance that’s as understated as it is out of the closet.
Should Win: For once I’m going to go with the crowd and take Plummer as well. Plummer’s performance doesn’t go down in Oscar history the way that the late Heath Ledger did with The Joker, Christian Bale in last year’s The Fighter or even Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday (which didn’t win shit but should be lauded in the streets of Hollywood), but it’s just a step behind. He deserves the statue and everyone else is fighting for second place.
Snubbed: Kevin Spacey, Margin Call. Margin Call as a movie has widely been screwed in awards season, and as a result Kevin Spacey’s best performance since Keyzer Soze in “The Usual Suspects” has been completely lost in the shuffle. Albert Brooks got a lot of buzz for going against type in Drive, but is in the same category as everyone below Plummer here. Finally if the Academy’s not going to give Andy Serkis a statue for one of his creatures, they need to create a separate category for motion capture and put him there. His turn as Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was smart, taut and heartbreaking.
Overhyped: Nick Nolte, Warrior and Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Both performances were solid, but there’s about a dozen other performances that could have taken these spots. Nolte’s mumbling father was greatly reduced as Warrior evolved and von Sydow was silent in a not so quiet film. It was just that kind of year.