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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2013 Oscar Preview: Best Actor

Click here for my introduction


  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • Denzel Washington (Flight)


BRADLEY COOPER: Cooper not only gave the best performance of his career but he gave one of the best performances of 2012. He plays a character who has bi-polar and his prone to violent outbursts. Even though David O. Russell wrote an incredible character, Bradley Cooper manages to wonderfully bring that character to life. What makes his performance great is his subtlety. Cooper’s Pat. Jr. clearly has severe mental issues but that fact does not beat the audience to death (like another performance we’ll see later in this post) is refreshing.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: I know the majority believes Daniel Day-Lewis did the best acting job in 2012 but in my mind that honor goes to Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Despite the fact that P.T. Anderson didn't know what to say with this great character, he still crafted and Phoenix perfected this amazing character. Phoenix plays an alcoholic and violent WWI vet who struggles to cope in a post-war life. The little choices that Phoenix makes like his posture and his mannerisms shows us what a brilliant actor Phoenix was, is, and can be.

DENZEL WASHINGTON: I like Denzel Washington and he’s got charisma up the wazoo, but boy howdy, was Washington’s performance in Flight way too over the top. Washington plays an alcoholic pilot who struggles to deal with sobriety as he gets in trouble for flying a crashed airplane drunk- even though he saved hundreds of lives while doing so. There was so many performances in 2012- mainly Phoenix’s and Cooper’s- that show you that you can play an alcoholic and a troubled man without screaming or being extremely overt in every scene. Screaming and crying and yelling does not equate to good acting as Denzel shows us.

HUGH JACKMAN: I didn't see Les Mis and I never will. Jackman may be great in it but there isn't a single musical I've seen that I have liked and I’m sure Les Mis won’t be the start.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS: I'm saving DDL for last because I know it will be controversial. I do not have this opinion for the sake of controversy (who am I, Skip Bayless?) but because I honestly believe this. I do not believe Daniel Day-Lewis deserves to get nominated for his portrayal in Lincoln.

I am here to judge Daniel Day-Lewis as a movie actor and about his character. The fact that DDL walks, looks, acts, and (apparently) sounds like Abraham Lincoln is incredibly impressive and he should be praised for that. However, we are here to judge him on how he played his character. People on Saturday Night Live have been looking and acting and sounding like famous people for years but you don't hear anyone clamoring for guys like Phil Hartman or Jay Pharaoh to get awards for it. Looking like another person is one thing, actually becoming a completely different character is another.

I know this is going to be blasphemous to say but I thought Daniel Day-Lewis did a great imitation of Abraham Lincoln but did not give a good character performance of Abraham Lincoln- and for that I don't think he deserves an Oscar nomination. We all know what an incredible and amazing actor Daniel Day-Lewis is and he will probably be regarded as one of the greatest actors to have ever lived (especially if he wins his third Oscar this year, see below) but I almost don't want his reputation tarnished by Lincoln.

I know many people don't even agree with me in the slightest and I'm alright with that. Feel free to pelt me with rocks.


  • Jack Black (Bernie)
  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • Sharma Suraj (Life of Pi)
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)


  • WHO SHOULD WIN (OSCAR FIELD): Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • WHO SHOULD WIN (ENTIRE FIELD): Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • WHO WILL WIN: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)


I think Hollywood is extremely racist and xenophobic despite how much they praise themselves for being liberal. I referring to Sharma Suraj, the young man who plays Pi in Life of Pi, and how there was no Oscar buzz about him whatsoever despite the incredible job he did.

First, let's go back to 2008. Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is a giant and monster hit. People love it and can't stop talking about it. The Oscars love it as well as it went on to get 10 nominations and winning eight of them including: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Film. But how many acting nominations does it get? Zero. Not a single one. Although that is not terribly offensive of a snub as no actor really did anything THAT great (although I wasn't that big of a fan of the film so maybe I'm biased). The film's lead, Dev Patel, has actually been consistently working and was pretty good in the film, but still, no nomination for him.

Jump now four years later to 2012's Life of Pi. A film that is praised and applauded everywhere (including by me). A film that the Academy loves and gets nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Film. Again, how many acting nominations does it get? Zero. Absolutely nothing. To me, this is even more egregious because unlike Slumdog Millionaire and its huge, ensemble cast, Life of Pi is really only about two people: Young Pi and Old Pi. Old Pi is fine but he is mainly a narrator and the glue for the entire film. Young Pi, however, is crucial. The film doesn't work if you don't care about Young Pi. The vast, vast majority of the film is Young Pi sitting on a raft/boat by himself with a tiger. That's it. That's essentially what Cast Away was and Tom Hanks gets an Oscar nomination for it. However, when an Indian does it, its "whatever". 

To me, you can not say you loved Life of Pi but give its young lead no credit whatsoever. Yes, Ang Lee does an incredible job with the film and yes, the cinematography is gorgeous, but none of that matters if you don't care about the film's lead. If you didn't care about Sharma Suraj's performance, then the film falls apart. 

As far as I can tell, the Academy has never nominated an actor of Indian descent (or Pakistani or whatever. I don't know what to call them. Brown People?). While that's not inherently bad because it is not like Indian actors have been prevalent in Hollywood movies ever (although, that is another issue/rant entirely), I would like to see actors of Indian descent at least get mentioned in award conversations. I am not even saying Suraj is even THAT big of a snub, but the fact that his name wasn't even floated around for a possible Oscar nomination is just disheartening.

OK, rant over. I am off of my soap box now.


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