Monday, February 24, 2014

Criticwire Survey: One Guarnteed Oscar Winner, One Disqualification

Q: Due to a security flaw in Price Waterhouse's system, you have the ability to choose one Academy Award winner and disqualify one nominee. Who gets the Oscar, and who goes home empty-handed?

I would give Best Actor to Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street for several reasons – not least of which because it is easily the best performance nominated, and it is the type of balls to the wall craziness that never actually wins – a performance that shows the range of DiCaprio (did anyone expect he was that gifted a physical comedian) – and because his winning would be controversial – some HATE the movie, and for the most part the Academy sticks with winners who are safe and inoffensive. Not this time – as I could easily see DiCaprio’s performance make some people’s list of the Best Best Actor Wins of all time, and on others Worst Best Actor Winners of all time.
But also because I don’t quite get the narrative being written that Matthew McConaughey is somehow “overdue” for an Oscar. Granted, the last three years has seen a number of excellent McConaughey performances, and I have become an undeniable fan of his. But he has spent most of the past 20 years cruising on his charm and making one shitty romcom and adventure film (sometimes both at the same time as in Fool’s Gold), while DiCaprio has spent almost all of energy since Titanic getting interesting films, by great filmmakers, made and constantly challenging himself. DiCaprio is long overdue for recognition, while as McConaughey has just started to try. Having said all of that, were McConaughey the frontrunner for Supporting Actor for Mud, I wouldn’t be complaining (but then again, they didn’t nominate him for that, now did they).

And at the risk of being labeled a Dallas Buyers Club hater (I’m not), I would banish Jared Leto’s performance from supporting actor. I don’t hate the performance and I have not really decided what my position on the idea that a transgendered actor should have played the role rather than Leto – something I have to admit never donned on me until the controversy erupted – but should have. No, the reason I think I want to banish Leto is because as good as he is I never quite understood why he so completely and totally dominated this category all year long – especially with the likes of Michael Fassbender and Jonah Hill in this race. This should have been an exciting race, but now it's a foregone conclusion. With Leto gone, who wins the category becomes completely wide open – no one would know who would win – and that would inject some excitement into the ceremony – plus it would (likely) go to a better performance (with my luck, they’d give it Bradley Cooper, but lets pretend he’s banished too).

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