Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Actor 2008: The Muppets Win Again

Mickey Rourke's performance in The Wrestler was as moving as it was unexpected. Such memorable roles are often rewarded come Awards season, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Unfortunately for Mickey, he ran into the mortal lock in Sean Penn. Allow me to explain.

I'm not sure what caused it(go ahead and blame Dubya...everyone else does), but Hollywood has steadily become more and more liberal during the 21st century, and this is especially reflected by the voting patterns of the "Academy." Ah, yes. The Academy: that enigmatic collection of geezers that always makes me think of Statler and Waldorf.

Statler and Waldorf Pictures, Images and Photos

The Academy?

Look at the list of Best Actor winners. During the 20th century, only one African-American was honored with a Best Actor Academy Award(Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field). And this is just speculation, but I'm guessing that Tom Hanks's turn as Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia was the only gay portrayal to win Best Actor in the 20th century. If that's incorrect, kindly leave an inflammatory comment.

And now, with the first decade of the new millenium not yet complete, we've already seen 3 African-American lead actors and 2 homosexual portrayals win Best Actor(Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Sean Penn).

Of those five actors, some deserved the award(Denzel and Whitaker), while others benefited from the Academy's sudden infatuation with the biopic(Foxx, Hoffman, and Penn). Yes, I said it. For whatever reason, the bio has become the deciding factor when the Academy is weighing the nominees, with homosexual portrayals running a close second. This is completely and utterly criminal.

Statler and Waldorf need to examine their recent voting pattern and make some changes. It's currently an absolute LOCK if an actor portrays a gay man in a film "inspired" by "real events." The reasoning is completely asinine. Really, Academy? Really? Are you really telling me that a biopic role(a role in which the actor knows precisely how to move, look, and sound) should receive more recognition than a role that is created and molded from scratch? Really? And are you also telling me that a man kissing another man is superb acting? When did we decide on this?

Don't start accusing me of being a Prop-8-loving gay-basher just yet. All I'm saying is that the most unforgettable performances of the past few years will be forgotten before long because they don't have the "Best Actor" tag alongside them. It's a shame.

Take a look at 2005. Hoffman won for his role in Capote, in which he portrayed an openly homosexual man who existed before the film was made. Wrap up the Oscar. Apologies to Terrence Howard of Hustle & Flow and Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain. Terrence, you gave us a shocking, inspiring breakout performance. But, sadly, your fictional character was, um, FICTIONAL, so how can we possibly judge your acting ability? There's nothing to compare it to, stupid! And Heath, yours was an absolutely enthralling performance. You remembered to make out with a dude, which was great. You almost got to give the acceptance speech. But Ennis never existed in reality, did he? No, he didn't. Sorry, fellas! There's always Best Supporting Actor!

And yes, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a wonderful actor. Don't email me. Have you actually watched Capote? YAWN.

And now the 2008 Academy Awards have come and gone, and it's deja vu all over again. You cannot tell me that Sean Penn deserved Best Actor over Mickey Rourke. No one else could have portrayed Randy the Ram. Rourke looked the part(thanks to his second profession as a boxer), and he played the part. It was a once-in-a-lifetime role that was given to the right man at the right time, and he acted the shit out of it. This is so rare that, when it happens, it deserves to be recognized. Instead, Penn walked away with the bling because he had the foresight to star in a biopic and he remembered to share a few kisses with another man.


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