Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OSCAR NOMINEES 2011: The male acting categories

To much fanfare, the 2011 Academy Award nominations were released today.  You can grab an entire list of the nominations here.  Here's an analysis of the male acting categories: Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.  Just like with the ladies, both categories can create overnight new stars and validate veteran careers at the same time.  This year is no different for both scenarios.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Who was snubbed:  The really shocking omission was that Batman made it and Spider-Man didn't.  The soon-to-be-new-webslinger Andrew Garfield impressed a lot of people with his grounded and humane performance in The Social Network, garnering several precursor nominations including at the Golden Globes.  He would have qualified as that hot young name to make a burst-on-the-scene splash with a nomination or win.  An equally hot young name that would have skyrocketed the TV and Q ratings for the awards show would have been his co-star Justin Timberlake.  The man can actually act and showed it in The Social Network.  Maybe Yogi Bear had something to do with it.  Smaller case can be made for other actors.  Oscar winner Matt Damon at the True Grit juggernaut (second most nominations) has been better elsewhere, even this very year (Hereafter).  Black Swan's Vincent Cassel is overshadowed by his female costars and Michael Douglas already won for playing Gorden Gecko in the lead category years ago in the first Wall Street.  The most distant hope for a sentimental longshot belonged to Jackie Chan for The Karate Kid.  Pat Morita was awarded a nomination in the very same category for the original and Chan is even better, giving arguably the performance of his career.

Happy to be there:  John Hawkes skated in with Winter's Bone.  Like it's other nominations, it's the trendy indie movie of the year that no one has heard about until now.  Mark Ruffalo from The Kids Are All Right can also be happy to finally be nominated after years of very good performances in a lot of movies, including this year's forgotten nominee Shutter Island from Martin Scorcese.  Jeremy Renner can also be proud to represent The Town's (unfortunately and mistakenly) sole Oscar nomination.

Who will win:  Without a doubt, it's going to be Christian Bale for his crack addict, washed-up boxer performance from The Fighter.  Even though, like Hawkes and Ruffalo, it's his first ever nomination, Bale has swept nearly every single minor award that has led up to these Oscars, and deservedly so.  The only spoiler could be Geoffrey Rush and the leading nomination support for The King's Speech.  Like Bale's part to his co-star Mark Wahlberg, Rush's performance alongside Colin Firth could technically be a lead role.  What against him is that he's already won an Oscar for far superior work in Shine and hams it up the rest of the time in the Pirates of the Caribbean series too much.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Who was snubbed:  This might have been the most crowded field of them all to choose just five.  Three veteran nominees from other award groups and two grown-up teen stars come to mind and snubs.  The three veterans are Robert Duvall from Get Low, Golden Globe winner for Best Actor- Musical/Comedy Paul Giamatti for Barney's Version, and previous Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling of Blue Valentine.  For Duvall and Giamatti, while well-regarded, their performance and small films were easily overshadowed by the more high-profile nominees and their films.  With Gosling, you get the feeling the Oscar winning resume of Javier Bardem stole his spot.  The two grown-up teen stars who gave very good adult performances this year without nominations were Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Wahlberg is getting overshadowed by Bale and the dual-female supporting roles of Melissa Leo and Amy Adams.  DiCaprio arguably had two Oscar-worthy performances this past year with both Inception and Shutter Island.  Add those two to his recent filmography of Blood Diamond, The Aviator, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, and Revolutionary Road, and he's likely the best (not young anymore) American actor working today.  Either in too many peoples' eyes they'll always been "Marky Mark" and "Jack Dawson" or you just flat out have a crowded field.

Happy to be there:  No doubt, the horseshoe and rabbit's foot goes to Javier Bardem and his foreign-language performance in Biutiful.  It's a respectful nomination for foreign film and to his great talent and resume, but he's won an Oscar recently for No Country For Old Men.  His spot could have easily gone to Gosling or any of the other mentioned snubs without any disrespect to him.  Oh, and The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg can now finally stop being mistaken for Michael Cera because everyone sure knows him now after playing billionaire Facebook founder and TIME magazine "Person of the Year" Mark Zuckerberg.

Who will win:  Much like Bale and much like his counterpart on the ladies side, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth and his incredible performance as King Edward VI from The King's Speech has swept nearly every minor and major award up to this point.  A greatly respected nominee in the same category last year for A Single Man, Colin Firth has become a true leading man after years of solid supporting performances. The one spoiling blemish is Eisenberg's win from the National Board of Review.  That's not enough support (and he's young enough to come back down the road) to overtake Firth and the performance of his career.  Long live the King!