Thursday, March 4, 2010

Best Actor: 2010 Oscar Preview

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. Check out his other Oscar preview posts using the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]
[Supporting Actor]

[Best Actress]  

5. Morgan Freeman - Invictus

I know basically as much information about Nelson Mandela as Chris Rock tells in his jokes, so my knowledge is kind of limited. He spent 27 years in a South African prison. He was beaten, he was tortured, and he got divorced from his wife after six months. That's basically all I knew before seeing Invictus.

But here's the problem. Biopics need to give their subject material at least a few decades before a movie can be made about them. Let's look at some recent successful biopics. Both Walk the Line and Ray had subject material from the 1950s. Milk's plot unwound in the 1970s. The events depicted in Invictus took place in the early and mid 1990s. That's not nearly enough time between actual events and theatrical events. Strike 1.

The whole point of finding actors to play bio roles is that the actual people (Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Harvey Milk) are either dead or too old to play the part. But Freeman played Nelson Mandela in Invictus while the actual Nelson Mandela could have easily played the same role. That takes away from Freeman's credibility right off the bat. Strike 2.

Also, Morgan Freeman IS Ellis Redding. All of his other characters are wannabes. So, hearing Morgan Freeman do a perfectly respectable Mandela impression was not enjoyable. During the whole movie I was saying to myself, "why is Red talking all funny?" Strike 3.

It seems like a great idea to cast one of the best actors of this generation as one of the most famous political leaders of our time, but that's exactly what takes away from the performance.

4. Colin Firth - A Single Man

I didn't get A Single Man. What I mean by that is I don't understand the accolades it's getting.

The movie is about a man struggling to keep living life and find meaning in it after the death of his longtime partner. If you were bored by that sentence, you're going to be bored by the movie. It's a 90 minute long snoozefest.

Still, Firth performed well. In particular, two scenes in the film were fantastic, which was enough to elevate Firth over Morgan Freeman in my book.

Wow, I'm boring myself by writing this. Let's move on.

3. Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart

Most people will be mad at me for putting Bridges in the middle of the pack.

He'll most likely win come March 7th and I have no problem with that. It will be nice to finally not have to mention the words "The Dude" and "underrated" in the same sentence. He was fantastic in Crazy Heart. He sang and played guitar like he was a veteran musician. His chemistry with Maggie Gyllenhaal was phenomenal. Still, if I had a vote for Best Actor, Bridges wouldn't get it. Here's why.

I went into Crazy Heart with very high expectations, and when the movie itself didn't fully live up to those expectations, his spot on my list fell. I know my judgment of an individual's performance shouldn't be linked to how much I liked the movie, or what I intially expected, but I can't help it. Sometimes I do that.

It's like having a bologna sandwich for dinner, only it has a juicy piece of steak in the center. That one bite of steak should be delicious, but it's not, because it's surrounded by the bologna sandwich. And I'm not saying Crazy Heart is a bologna sandwich to Jeff Bridges' steak (Crazy Heart is actually a good movie), but you get what I'm saying.

2. Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker

If you haven't seen The Hurt Locker, stop everything you're doing and see it right now. If you have seen it, you know that the movie kicks ass and Jeremy Renner kicks ass in it. If you don't agree with me, you're wrong. That's right, your opinion is wrong. I'm watching it again right now. It's probably my 25th time watching it. It's that good.

There was a point in the movie where I kind of thought that Jeremy Renner was not an actor, but an actual bomb technician in Iraq. You believe he knows what he's doing. You believe he needs war just as much as war needs him. You believe that even though some of his tactics are not "by the book," he cares about his men. Before this movie, I knew Jeremy Renner as the bad guy in S.W.A.T and that's about it. Something tells me I won't be forgetting his name any time soon.

I'm assuming all of you were up at 7:30 on February 2nd watching Anne Hathaway announce the nominations. I mean, why wouldn't you be?? And if you were lucky enough to be watching the Today Show, Jeremy Renner's reaction was priceless. He was so happy that his performance got recognized. It was impossible not to be anything but happy for him. When I saw his reaction, I smiled, laughed and clapped for him. And I was by myself, literally cheering for no one to hear. I'm pretty cool.

I just tracked down that video. Enjoy.

I had Jeremy Renner in the #1 spot about 10 minutes ago. Let's just call this position 1-A.

1. George Clooney - Up In the Air

In the first half of the movie, Clooney plays a witty, smooth talking playboy who only cares about numero uno. Then his character completely changes, and he pulls off both sides to perfection. And there are very few actors that can pull off a comedic character in a drama as well as Clooney can. However, some may view this performance as effortless, which hurts Clooney's overall chances to bring home Oscar.

I really, really wish that he didn't win the Best Supporting Oscar four years ago for Syriana. I'm convinced that if he didn't, he would be winning this year.

That may sound confusing. Clooney isn't winning this year? Isn't he in my #1 spot? Yes, but my rankings go by who deserves it most, not who's going to win. I'm fairly certain Jeff Bridges is taking home Best Actor this year.

It breaks my heart a little when somebody wins an Oscar for a piece of work that isn't their best. Seriously, I cry. A lot. When Martin Scorsese finally won for The Departed in 2007, it was great that he finally won, but it's probably his third or fourth best film. Very bittersweet. That's how I feel about Clooney's performance in Up In the Air. I'm pretty sure he gave a career performance, but he'll win Best Actor for a future role that's not nearly as memorable as this one.

The Oscars are March 7th, THIS SUNDAY! Until then read my other previews, and look for the Best Picture preview tomorrow.


  1. Since when did you decide to become a movie critic? Now I know what happened to Roger Eberts chin. You absorbed it into your already cavernous face and thus soaked up his film knowledge. A little too soon? I'll just enjoy myself folding this pillow case.

  2. I need to update my movies-to-watch list and I have to admit I haven't watched either from this list. I've watched the trailer for Up In The Air though and Clooney is real good...