Our countdown to the 2012 Oscars continues! Don’t forget, the real winners (not half as deserving as my picks) will be announced Sunday, February 26th, via a world-wide television broadcast beginning at 4PM on the west coast. You can follow my
snarky admiring comments by following me on Twitter @johnpurlia. Until then, read on as I continue to dissect the categories and offer ever so humble opinions on who should win, who should lose, and who has no business at all to forever benefit from the phrase “Academy Award Nominee” before their name in future trailers and marketing hype.
Over the past couple of days I’ve made my picks for Best Picture, as well as the awards given to stellar second bill players: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Today we move on to the the big individual awards, with our first trip down the red carpet being my picks for…
And, the nominees are…
Demián Bichir — A Better Life (didn’t see it)
George Clooney — The Descendants (didn’t see it)
Jean Dujardin — The Artist
Gary Oldman — Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt — Moneyball (didn’t see it)
Uh oh… looks like another category where my exposure to the nominees is limited to just a handful of films. However, as before, such a minor oversight won’t stop me from selecting a winner. After all, there are plenty of justifiable reasons to harshly judge an actor’s performance apart from actually seeing them on film. Recall from my insightful assessment of the Best Picture category that I was completely put off from seeing The Descendants because I didn’t like the way George Clooney ran in sandals in the trailer. Granted, it very well may be the case that the otherwise graceful Clooney was exhibiting tremendous acting chops to so convincingly flip-flop around the bend like a one-finned seal. But it made me not want to see the film, and therefore ranks his performance below that of his fellow nominees. I will give him credit, though, for his entertaining interview in a recent issue of Rolling Stone.
I know Hollywood tailors their trailers (say that three times) for particular audiences and, evidentially, I wasn’t the target audience for The Descendants. A far, far better trailer—and one that zeroed in on my demographic like a sniper peering through a rifle sight—was the coming attraction reel for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Now that was a movie I wanted to see!
Gary Oldman took on the role of seasoned British agent George Smiley with understated grace, precision, and intelligence. The entire cast was tremendous (confirming my belief that Colin Firth is much more effective as a supporting player than he is as a lead), but Oldman—as he usually does—dominates every scene. Oldman is my favorite kind of actor. He’s a chameleon that blends into his characters without remaining to be “Gary Oldman.” Unlike, say, Tom Cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio…
Hey, look! It’s Leo playing J. Edgar Hoover!
Hey, look! It’s Leo playing Howard Hughes!
Hey, look! It’s Tom Cruise playing… some guy that looks like Tom Cruise!
No matter who Oldman plays—and he’s played some pretty big personalities (Sid Vicious, Lee Harvey Oswald, Beethoven)—he’s that character, and the audience disassociates the Movie Star from the role. Isn’t that’s what a Best Actor calibre performance is all about? Awesome performance; strong consideration for me to hand him a statue!
Hey, look! It’s Brad Pitt playing a baseball GM!
See my point? Sorry Brad, no Oscar for you. I’m sure you did a really great job playing Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, but no matter how great your acting might be, it’s “Brad Pitt playing some guy.”
Though I didn’t see A Better Life I am going to surmise that Demián Bichir was nominated to better bolster the Best Supporting Actor case for costar Christopher Plummer. Not that I’m suggesting a conspiracy, but… Okay, yeah, I’m suggesting a conspiracy. In any case, Bichir is relatively unknown to American audiences, and the weak Best Supporting Actor category seems almost rigged so that Plummer can take home a token award for outlasting many of his contemporaries (which is why I went outside the nominees for my choice). As such, there’s no way both actors take home the Oscar, so the Academy is basically setting up a two man race between Clooney (who the Academy loves), and…
No, not Gary Oldman, because the Academy doesn’t yet “get” Gary Oldman.
…Jean Dujardin, the star of The Artist.
And the winner is… Jean Dujardin!
Yes, despite Oldman’s riveting performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, my pick for Best Actor is Dujardin for his amazingly engaging portrayal of a cast aside silent film star in the year’s best film, The Artist.
Warning! Fluffy, overused, tired film critic jargon on its way!
Dujardin truly “lights up the screen,” showing all kinds of range “bringing his character to life.” Acting with only his face and body, though not at all handicapped by the lack of dialog, Dujardin succeeds in communicating the depth of his character to the audience, and plays off his fellow actors in a manner that makes each of them more successful in his or her role. It really is a marvelous piece of acting and should be recognized by the Academy as the A Number One Acting Achievement for 2011!
(I hope they bring the dog on stage when the film wins best picture!!)