What are you guys doing with your Robert Redford for Best Actor campaign? A few weeks ago it was Redford’s to lose and now I don’t know. I’m not feeling the pulse. If you ask me Redford gives a much weightier, far more poignant performance in All Is Lost than Bruce Dern does in Nebraska, but Dern has been campaigning circles around him. Not circles…figure eights! Redford has been so absent from the NY-and-LA “campaign trail”, as it were, that it’s almost as if he’s given up. A strong performance is the bedrock of any campaign, of course, but as you guys know getting out there and delivering the right message (Dern’s campaign theme has been brilliant) and talking the talk also matters. All I know is that Redford did a flurry of interviews to coincide with the release of All Is Lost in October, and then he more or less disappeared. Maybe I’m completely off my gourd and Redford has this one in the bag. I don’t know. Maybe I’m misreading the atmosphere. But I’m not feeling snapping currents of electricity coming out of the Redford corner at this stage.
I can guess what Redford is feeling or saying to you behind closed doors. Something along the lines of “campaigning for an Oscar like Bill McKay running for U.S. Senator is demeaning.” Or “Roman Polanski won the Best Director Oscar for The Pianist without campaigning so why do I have to hustle around like Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 Wisconsin primary?” Either a performance speaks for itself and merits a nomination or it doesn’t, he’s probably telling you. Redford probably feels that campaigning cheapens All Is Lost and his performance on some level and perhaps, in a sense, the Academy itself…except no Academy member really feels that way. Redford has always been a bit standoffish (in a good way, I mean — his movie-star coolness is based on this), perhaps a bit too proud to get down in the mud. But this instinct isn’t helping, I’m telling you.
All through last September and October I thought Redford was a near lock to win Best Actor. Now I’m wondering if he can win at all with his absence from the circuit and the image of non-participatory aloofness that he’s put out plus the herculean campaign that Dern and Paramount have put forth. Are you guys throwing in the towel or what? This is serious shit. We all know that the Best Actor competition is brutal this year along with all the other categories. I’ve heard it said that it’s possible that Redford might not even make the cut. I don’t believe that (his “Our Man” performance is probably the best of his career) but the fact that someone even threw that out there tells you how uncertain the Best Actor thing is at this point.