In Contention‘s Kris Tapley has laid out a logical-sounding scenario by which Clint Eastwood could nab a Best Actor Oscar nomination and perhaps even the award itself for his swan-song performance in Gran Torino. Here it is along with my comments:
“Of the contenders most anticipate to be in play, only Sean Penn‘s portrayal of Harvey Milk has the on-paper swagger, while Leonardo DiCaprio (despite generating considerable heat — I’ve heard one person say “it’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen”) could spoil the party if he can push past the pretty-boy image that fellow hopeful Brad Pitt will face.” Wells comment: Not having seen Milk, Revolutionary Road or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I can buy into the idea of Eastwood landing a swan-song Best Actor nomination. But because his Gran Torino performance appears (to go by the trailer) to be a snarly old-guy reiteration of a very familiar persona, a voice is telling me he’ll probably wind up third or fourth in the pecking order, at best. If a nomination happens, of course.
Mickey Rourke is the odds-on favorite heading into November for a nomination, but despite the brilliance of the performance and the film, there is the sense that the nod will be the reward. An Indie Spirit Award is probably in the cards, and if so, promises to be the usual kiss of death.” Wells comment: “Kiss of death” bequeathed by winning an Indie Spirit?
Frank Langella, to round out my own predicted five, faces an uphill battle in gaining an Oscar to go along with his Tony for the same performance. Even with plenty of positive assessments, the potential to underwhelm is out there, in the open, and waiting to keep Frost/Nixon an also ran in multiple areas.” Wells comment: If Academy members subscribe to the idea that at least one of the five Best Actor nominees should ideally go to a gray-haired veteran, it may come down to Langella vs. Eastwood with the deciding factor not just “how do they compare?” but mainly “how good are the films?”
Benicio Del Toro could be a real threat if the film finds the traction necessary to move into serious play, but it probably won’t be the event that Eastwood’s effort will be. And the only other performance that really shouts for attention is Josh Brolin‘s work in W, a film that could be yesterday’s news sooner than later.” Wells comment: As lived-in and organically believable as Del Toro’s Che Guervara is in Steven Soderbergh‘s epic, it’s not a histrionic, soul-baring, feel-my-pain Academy “performance” and probably won’t even calculate with most Academy members. Brolin is aurally and behaviorally perfect in W. but not in a way that’s likely to sir Best Actor talk. The general consensus, unfair and unperceptive in my view, is that the movie isn’t raging or urgent or powerhouse enough to propel Brolin or any of the other cast members into being talked up.
“The film will be emotional, and given the particulars of the script, the portrayal is sure to prove heartbreaking. It could be the stiff upper lip of an awards season that finds itself competing with the election year, a note of hope and even a demand for sacrifice.” Wells comment: 100% agreement.