I’ve thought and thought about it, and there’s no way award-season handicappers can argue that Viggo Mortensen‘s Sopranos-styled performance in Peter Farrelly‘s Green Book isn’t the current Best Actor champ. Odds-wise, I mean. Or destiny-wise.
Not that anyone is arguing against Viggo, but you get my drift. His amiable goombah guy — a nicely shaded, carefully measured performance that conveys an emotional journey that you can’t help but admire — reaches out and touches. It hits the classic sweet spot. No other performance so far is on this level. Please tell me how I’m mistaken.
Bradley Cooper‘s Kris Kristofferson-like performance as a drawlin’ drunk in A Star Is Born is pretty good, I have to admit. He’ll almost certainly be nominated….right, Bobby Peru?
But Hugh Jackman‘s Gary Hart in The Front Runner is, I feel, more formidable. Watching him play a considerate, highly principled guy who didn’t do anything all that bad or who at least feels that infidelity is a private matter…to watch this decent guy get taken down for no reason other than the fact that tabloid scandals drive ratings and sell newspapers is just tragic. I can’t get his performance out of my mind.
And what has happened, by the way, to general Gold Derby support for Ethan Hawke‘s career-peak performance in Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed? It’s an absolute scandal that he’s not on each and every spitballer’s top-five Best Actor chart right now, as opposed to just lists from Claudia Puig, Timothy Gray, Chris Rosen, ESPN’s Adnan Virk and myself.
As we speak, 17 Gold Derby handicappers are blowing Hawke off. Not because his masterful performance as a small-town minister isn’t a primal, conflicted, straight-from-the-gut vessel of anguish and longed-for redemption, but because A24 released First Reformed last May. By the tired-thinking standards of your go-along, follow-along prognosticator, this means that Hawke isn’t really in the game — respected but an awards-season also-ran. Not because of the quality of performance, but because of A24’s release strategy. Which is absolute bullshit. Shame on those 17.
A lot of people are behind the idea of Willem Dafoe‘s performance as Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel‘s At Eternity’s Gate. I am among them, but who’s actually seen the film? It played at the Venice Film Festival, will screen at the New York Film Festival on 10.12, and will open on 11.16.
Others are excited about Christian Bale‘s unseen performance as Dick Cheney in Adam McKay‘s Vice, which won’t open until 12.25. My gut is telling me that fat Bale playing a real-life Satan is not going to be nominated for anything. Not in this climate. You don’t get nominated for gaining weight and wearing great make-up. It may be that Bale’s actual performance will turn out to be the real deal, but I’m holding off on Bale for now.
Other prognosticators are supporting Robert Redford‘s dandelion-fuzz performance in The Old Man & the Gun. Apparently as some kind of farewell-to-a-legend gesture in view of Redford’s Telluride statement about deciding to retire from acting. Which he later walked back.
And then, of course, there’s Rami Malek‘s performance as Freddy Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The first big Los Angeles screening happens next weekend on the 20th Century Fox lot.
I’m a serious fan of Ryan Gosling‘s low-key but completely engaged performance as Neil Armstrong in First Man. Then again we all know deep down (and I’m not admitting this with any joy or satisfaction) that 85% or 90% of SAG isn’t going to feel all that passionate about this minimalist, emotionally muffled performance. They may respect it but most of them won’t be feeling seat-of-the-pants enthusiasm. Subtle performances rarely provide that.