As it appears, the Academy awards, the Oscars, are no longer the signifier of a particular artist’s performance in a particular role in a particular year. Rather, it’s an award for making up for missed opportunities. It’s a trend for quite a while now. A few years back, Martin Scorcese finally received the Best Director statuette for a film (The Departed) which is certainly not his best work. Nicole Kidman did not win an award for Moulin Rogue, so she was given an award the next year for The Hours, a role which certainly did not qualify as lead. (I think the Julian Moore character was the lead in the film, as she connects the other two strands of the film). So, there you are.
This year, Colin Firth was the sure shot winner for Best Actor for his performance as the king with speech problem in The King's Speech, none could stop him from winning this year, especially when he was nominated last year for the far superior A Single Man (in terms of his acting histrionics at least), and lost to Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart). Bridges, on the other hand, was nominated several times earlier, starting with his debut in The Last Picture Show, and also for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Starman, and The Contender. He was nominated this year as well, for Coen Brothers’ True Grit, which raked up 10 nominated and failed to win a single one. Coming back to Firth, he is such a fine actor, he deserves the award anyway. Can you mention a Firth film where he was not good? It would be very difficult. He was charming even in films like Mamma Mia! and Nanny McPhee. I liked him most, however, in Love, Actually, and Bridget Jones’ Diary.
The same is the case with Melissa Leo. She was nominated in the Best Actress category for Frozen River in 2008, a far stronger performance compared to the winner Kate Winslet for The Reader. Again, Winslet is a fine performer who had been nominated several times before (Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children). Therefore, this year Leo was awarded for her supporting turn as the domineering mother in The Fighter. (It’s interesting how all the supporting cast in the film was nominated, except the lead, played by Mark Wahlberg). Even Christian Bale took home an Oscar in the supporting actor category for the same film. Was the award an attempt to appease the fans of The Dark Knight who are still smarting how the Nolan film was snubbed by the Academy. This year, Christopher Nolan’s Inception took home three technical awards. Just that. (Personally, I still cannot fathom why Shutter Island was completely ignored.)
Natalie Portman in the Best Actress category for Black Swan was also a lock. How can you pass up the chance to give her an award when she has been around since she was 14, with her breakout role in Leon.
If you go by this, there is much hope for David Fincher, the director of The Social Network, who was upset by Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. Fincher was nominated in 2008 as well, for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and lost to Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), not to mention, Seven, and Fight Club. Boyle was in race this year as well, for 127 Hours. Perhaps Fincher’s remake of the Swedish masterpiece The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, will strike gold for him. We are keeping our fingers crossed.