In The Front Runner, Hugh Jackman‘s Gary Hart is a smart, decent, amiable politician whose life suddenly blows up. He gets walloped by the news media over a private matter, and he just can’t believe it. He can’t accept that reporters would want to make hay over indications that he might have been intimate with someone other than his wife.

Are you shitting me? Who cares? What the hell does that have to do with being President?

Hart gets indignant — his back arches — but he gradually slumps. He turns stern and despondent, solemn and anguished. It’s painful to accept the death of a dream, but that’s what Hart was forced to do in the space of two or three days. His life and career were in tatters, and over relatively nothing. A high hard one and a willing recipient…pheh!

And Jackman takes you through this. Peak to crevasse. Don’t kid yourself — it’s one of the best performances of the year. I’ve been saying this all along.

Last night Jackman received the Kirk Douglas Award Excellence in Film award from the Santa Barbara Film Festival, or more precisely from Roger “Nick the Greek” Durling, who knows how to pick ’em. Joining in the celebration were J.K. Simmons, Front Runner director Jason Reitman and longtime friend Ben Mendelsohn.

Jackman began by saying that “the best part about this evening not being televised, [is that] there’s no music to rush me off the stage. I’m going to do everything wrong in speechmaking. This is going to be long and I’m going to thank everyone. Just warning you.”