Yesterday I posted a piece called “Dues and Don’ts,” which partly echoed a 2.20.15 Christopher Borelli Chicago Tribune piece that noted how actors often win Oscars for the wrong roles. This occasionally happens when (a) voters decide that a certain actor is due and to hell with how their latest performance stacks up against past triumphs, or (b) voters decide that this actor has earned a make-up for a relatively recent snub or a long string of them over the previous decade or two. One example of a delayed/makeup, Borelli wrote, was Denzel Washington winning an Oscar for Training Day after his nominated performances in Malcolm X and The Hurricane fell short on votes.
This angered a colleague. “How could Denzel have been ‘due’ for Training Day under your scenario when he had already won an Oscar for Glory?,” he wrote. “Training Day was his second win. Was he ‘due’ for a second Oscar?”
To which I replied: “Denzel’s Glory win didn’t entirely count because that was a nice-to-meetcha Oscar. The industry recognized a star in the making — a cool, charismatic, good-looking black actor of quality. Denzel was very, very good in Glory but the Oscar was mainly a vote-of-confidence thing — an ‘attaboy, keep doin’ that thing and we’ll all work together and make more good movies and tons of money’ gesture. The Training Day Oscar was the real Oscar, given to a mature, established superstar playing a ‘bad guy’ in quotes. On top of which Denzel was completely due after his performances in Hurricane and Malcolm X.”
I haven’t thought this through but I think this “nice to meetcha” vs. real Oscars thing holds water. Young, new-to-the-biz actors are in a position to win “nice to meetcha” Oscars and older, well-established actors obviously aren’t. If Brie Larson wins a Best Actress Oscar next month for her performance in Room, file that under “nice to meetcha.” If Scott Feinberg had managed to get Jacob Tremblay nominated for Best Actor, his winning would obviously qualify in this regard. But it won’t apply, obviously, if Charlotte Rampling wins. Nor can Leonardo DiCaprio‘s all-but-locked-down win for The Revenant qualify. “Nice to meetchas” are only for spring chickens.