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Monday, February 9, 2015

2015 Oscar Preview: Best Actor


- Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
- Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
- Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
- Michael Keaton (Birdman)
- Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

WHO SHOULD BE HERE: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

I get so incensed whenever I see this category and I don't see Jake Gyllenhaal's name listed. He was so fucking good in Nightcrawler that every acting performance this year (and especially those in this category) is ruined for me because it's not as good as Gyllenhaal in this film. Seriously. his biggest "problem" for not getting a nomination is that Nightcrawler is a film that speaks to Generation X and Millennials and the voting branch of The Academy is full of old farts who still wish Gone With The Wind was playing at the cinemas. Truthfully, I should stop expecting this branch as a whole to start making correct decisions, but I unfortunately care too much and snubs like this unnecessarily upset me to no end. Jake Gyllenhaal gave the greatest acting performance since Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight and gave a performance no other actor could do. Gyllenhaal not only had to have you root for this villain he plays but suck you into a pretty twisted tale and make it believable.

I'm just glad someone else is on my side in this imaginary war.

Click here to read my full review of Nightcrawler


BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH (THE IMITATION GAME): First of all, I just like the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch can say he's an Oscar nominee now because he's such a good actor in general that it seems fitting he can add this to his resume. Cumberbatch has been giving such great performances over the past few years which culminated in an Emmy win earlier this year (for Sherlock) and one of his best roles to date as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. It's easy to dismiss Cumberbatch's performance (and the movie in general) as Oscar bait, but you would be dismissing the warmth and depth he gave to Alan Turing on top of the autism-esque ticks his character had in the film. You needed to deeply care about Alan Turing in order for The Imitation Game to work, and Cumberbatch made it happen. I know Benedict Cumberbatch seems like a long shot to win this category, but he's the one I'm rooting for.

Click here to read my full review of The Imitation Game

MICHAEL KEATON (BIRDMAN): I few weeks ago I watched Tim Burton's Batman on Netflix because I hadn't seen it in awhile and I forgot just how good it really is. I also forgot just how good Michael Keaton was as Bruce Wayne / Batman. Keaton's physical presence doesn't scream sexy, billionaire, playboy, superhero, but the way Keaton played to his strengths, Bruce Wayne was both charming and a bad ass. (You wanna get nuts! Come on, let's get nuts!). 25 years later Michael Keaton is still a great actor and thanks to his role as Batman, he's the absolute perfect actor to play Riggan Thomson. Despite whatever role Keaton played in the past, for Birdman he needed to show Riggan's desperation of what he was trying to accomplish and the bravado to pull it off- and of course, Keaton successfully pulled it off like the champ that he is.

Click here to read my full review of Birdman

BRADLEY COOPER (AMERICAN SNIPER): There are moments in Ameircan Sniper where you can see what a great actor Bradley Cooper is. Of course, I already knew how amazing he was thanks to Silver Linings Playbook, but the range of emotions he's able to pull off in this Clint Eastwood war flick is excellent. Cooper's Chris Kyle goes from a charming, lovable every-man, to a humbled fighter in Iraq, to a man suffering from PTSD, back to a charming lovable every-man. Unfortunately, Cooper's work as a whole doesn't really justify a nomination here as he's only able to show off his range in a few scenes here and there. This year was one of the deepest Best Actor races in a long, long time, and with so many great performances, I wished the Academy had decided to let Cooper sit this one out and give him another nomination later (because another nomination IS coming for Bradley Cooper) where he truly gives one of the five best performances of the year.

Click here to read my full review of American Sniper

STEVE CARELL (FOXCATCHER): Steve Carell is so grossly miscast in Foxcacther that I'm surprised that not only people love him but The Academy gave him a nomination. I will say that I believe everyone who says they lost Carell in the performance, but I was not one of those of people. The inconsistency of Carell's make up didn't help anything either, but a fit, 50 year old man should not be playing this part of old portly creepy guy John Du Pont. For the record, I don't blame Steve Carell in any way. I think he's a phenomenal actor, but even great actors have their limits. I don't know what Bennett Miller and the casting department were thinking and it's mainly their fault this performance didn't work very well. I have no idea why Bennett Miller didn't cast his muse Philip Seymour Hoffman in this role. Not only would PSH been absolutely perfect, but we would have had one last hurrah to celebrate his life.

Click here for my full review of Foxcatcher

EDDIE REDMAYNE (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING): posted an article a few years ago entitled 6 Cheap Acting Tricks That Fool Critics Every Time. Their first entry was entitled The Biopic. In that entry they had this to say:

This simple formula rarely fails. Pick a deceased (or soon to be deceased) musician, artist, or mathematician, make sure they're the sort of person the New York media could conceivably refer to as brilliant, insert a big name actor (or Gary Busey) to play the role; watch movie critics and audiences wide and far go apeshit.

This describes Eddie Redmayne to a T. While he wasn't that big of name before The Theory of Everything, he's still the front runner to win this category. Think of Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), and Jamie Foxx (Ray). That article was written in 2009 and yet The Academy is still dumb enough to follow its same predictable formula. This is not an indictment on Eddie Redmayne per se as he did exactly what he was supposed to do and he's an actor trying to make it big and win an Oscar just like everybody else, but his nomination (and eventual win) is a symptom of the larger problem that is the Academy body itself. In Filmdrunk's article entitled Dear Academy, Please Do Not Give Eddie Redmayne An Oscar Nomination he writes:

A handsome British heartthrob playing a tousle-haired, permanently smiling physicist with crooked glasses and a degenerative disease isn't a performance that should be nominated for an Oscar, it's a performance that should be nominated at a parody of the Oscars. Playing a nuanced character with depth and complexity seems a lot more impressive to me than smiling a lot and looking placid while feigning a disability. Aside from that, filmmakers are trolling you. [The Theory of Everything] has been discussed as an Oscars vehicle since the first moment it was announced. It's a film so blatantly pandering the producers knew all they had to do was get through it with a straight face and it would automatically rain laurels. It's sort of like the awards movie equivalent of calling in sick and your excuse is a giant carbuncle on your sphincter, something so embarrassing no one will question it. 

What's even worse, is that almost anyone could have done what Eddie Redmayne did assuming they had the look. Hell, the great Benedict Cumberbatch did the exact same thing a few years ago. I don't hate Eddie Redmayne for this performance, I hate The Academy and critics for giving this performance any sort of power and respectability.

Click here to read my full review of The Theory of Everything


- Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
- Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
- Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
- Michael Keaton (Birdman)
- Miles Teller (Whiplash)

WHO SHOULD WIN (ENTIRE ELIGIBLE FIELD): Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
WHO SHOULD WIN (ACTUAL NOMINEES): Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
WHO WILL WIN: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)



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