Best Actor

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Re: Best Actor

Postby CalWilliam » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:08 pm

There was no doubt in my mind that Redmayne would finally win this. When has an actor won an Academy Award for playing an actor who is such self-conscious of himself and of what means being an actor? Only Ronald Colman and Jean Dujardin come to my mind as leading actor winners for playing one. I presume some voters are not that self-conscious as Michael Keaton's Riggan is. Why would they reward a potential uncomfortableness instead of a Stephen Hawking's impersonation?

I understand all your points of view, but this question has come to my mind.
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Re: Best Actor

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:19 pm

I would put Kim Basinger in the "we didn't know you could do that" category...a star who was never considered an awards-worthy talent, but who suddenly appears in a Best Picture nominee giving a very strong performance.
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Re: Best Actor

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:15 pm

Sorry. For some reason, I thought Stuart started in silents.

There's a name we have not been discussing here: Kim Basinger. Hers WAS a comeback narrative as well. Though, she had been working in films more recently than the one's we'd talked about, I think we might be able to consider her the lone example of a comeback winning. Of course, it may also have been a case of "played against type" kind of thing. Honestly, I'd have rather had Stuart over Basinger, but Julianne Moore really should have been the winner that year.
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Re: Best Actor

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:18 pm

Gloria Stuart wasn't in silent films. She was a star of the 1930s and a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild whose witty commentary on the laser disc of James Whale's The Old Dark House so impressed James Cameron that he sought her out for the role she played in Titanic. That was enough for her to win SAG, but not the Globes or the Oscar which went to the then much more famous Kim Basinger who, although she wasn't playing a real life person (an Oscar favorite) was doing a pretty good imitation of one as the Veronica Lake look-alike prostitute.

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Re: Best Actor

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:33 am

I think the Comeback Narrative is the one that doesn't win. Keaton is terrific in Birdman and certainly deserved some kind of recognition, but when you're against a method actor or an actor playing a "stretching" part or one that requires great physical transformation, you're going to win. Had Keaton not been up against Redmayne and it had been say Jake Gyllenhaal in that slot, Keaton most certainly would have won, though a case could have been made for prior nominee Gyllenhaal as a winner.

I also think the reason the Comeback Narrative doesn't work is when you consider the work they turned in prior to that. Mickey Rourke may have had a couple of good performances, but he was never seen as one of those major actors who took major roles. After he lost, he began making schlock, just like Nic Cage has done. Gloria Stuart hadn't distinguished herself as much more than a silent actress who never became huge. She also went on to minor, inconsequential roles after she lost. John Travolta was the same. He had a celebrated debut run, then tumbled off the face of the map, made a comeback, but then proceeded to make mostly crap for the next dozen years.

I think the reason the Comeback Narrative doesn't work is because those who are vying for a comeback win were typically not names that were synonymous with acting. Keaton had a string of prominent comedies in the 1980's and was certainly a triumph as Batman in those two films, but apart from some minor films that few people remember or saw, he was never considered a serious actor by those who would vote on such awards, so his comeback may have been more of a "wow, we didn't know you had it in you" kind of nomination, as was Rourke's. Now, if Keaton continues his renaissance picking up strong roles in critically acclaimed films, perhaps he'll end up back at the Oscars. At that point, the sting of his loss this year may well propel him to an Oscar victory. At this point, I think the Academy just wants to make sure that they aren't back just for the accolades and are intending to stay in the game with everyone else for awhile and continue to show them just how good they are.
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Re: Best Actor

Postby mlrg » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:16 am

Both Mister Tee and FilmFan are mentioning Cher but I don’t think her win is a comeback win.

I wasn’t into the Oscar race during the 80s but if you look at the (fery few) precursors at the time one may think that in 1987 she was due like, for instance, Kate Winslet was in 2009.

In 1983 she wins the golden globe for Silkwood and gets nominated for best supporting actress, but loses. Two years later she wins best actress at Cannes for The Mask and is also nominated for best actress drama at the golden globes, for a role that screemed Oscar recognition, but gets snubbed in what might be considered as a shocker nowadays. So I think her win in 1987 was not a comeback win but a culmination win. If she had won in 1983, for her first film role, that would be a comeback (even if it was in a film and not in music).

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Re: Best Actor

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:54 am

As we all know, Oscars are won as much for their narratives as they are for the achievement on screen. Here, I see two (or three) different kinds of narratives that I think we are categorizing differently. What I was talking about was the "comeback" narrative, where someone has disappeared pretty much from view, then comes back with a well-regarded performance and is being marketed as such. Suddenly, there is clamor that we have always loved this person and we are so happy they are back we will give them an Oscar, even though they haven't much entered that conversation before. These are people like Michael Keaton, Mickey Rourke, John Travolta, even Gloria Stuart...people who we generally thought we might never see in a mainstream movie again (I was probably wrong to group Bill Murray into this, he is in another group I will highlight below). Their campaign revolves almost completely around "we are so glad they are back, remember how much you loved them, they are so awesome and let's reward them!" This campaign never seems to work, though. All of those people (and as flipp pointed out Judy Garland) lost, and while you can make excuses for each of them individually, at this point I think you have to view it as some sort of trend. Maybe this isn't a narrative that the Academy just doesn't buy into.

I see this as a different narrative than the overdue veterans who never hit rock bottom. Mister Tee, I don't see Jeff Bridges as having a comeback; he may not have had that many mainstream hits, but he was still a constant presence in the movies during that time (he had an Oscar nomination, a cult hit, a Best Picture nominee, a Marvel movie and some critically praised performances) and was, I think, generally considered someone who deserved an Oscar. I see that as more a culmination win (like Julianne Moore, or Kate Winslet, or even Meryl Streep the third time) than a comeback. But maybe that is my lone perception.

Bill Murray, I think, falls more into a "we didn't know you could do that" category. Calling it a comeback is probably wrong; it was a revelation. Like Sandra Bullock, or even Matthew McConaughey, he revealed himself to the Academy to be capable of more human, or honest, or "acting," work than they thought possible. That narrative works sometimes, doesn't work sometimes (ask Johnny Depp, or Jim Carrey).

My youth is going to play a factor here, which is why I initially limited myself to the last 20-some years, so I can't really comment on people like Frank Sinatra or Red Buttons...I don't know how the narrative at the time around their awards. The 1950s and 1960s, though, wevre a very different time for Oscar voting, though! For both Shirley MacLaine and Cher, their win came a ways INTO their "comebacks." Both had nominations within the five years before their awards which they didn't win for, which I think makes a difference. They weren't suddenly back and then thrust an Oscar, they came back, got a nomination, made some more movies and proved that the comeback wasn't a fluke and were justly rewarded.

Maybe that is the difference I see here. The Academy isn't eager to reward you for coming back and playing one part (and it should be said that a lot of the names in my first paragraph were playing parts that were very close to their own personality, or at least how we perceive them), but will reward a comeback after you've proven yourself a little more. If you want to put McConaughey into this category, remember that they didn't even nominate him for the first year of the McConaissance...he had to wait around another year, after a half-dozen well-regarded performances, to even get an invitation to the show! If Michael Keaton continues to get some good work and can move himself back into a position to win, he could very likely win a Cher or MacLaine-esque award, but I see a trend that is going to factor the way I look at the next "comeback kid." The interesting question to ask now, though, may be: who will that be?!?
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Re: Best Actor

Postby Bog » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:47 am

Hey I totally agree with his win being fathomable, predictable even...as well as the fact I also chose him in my Oscar pool (as well as coached my wife no matter how much she loved Keaton it did not make him the best bet).

I just couldn't seem to find anything within most of our Oscar obsessed lives similar to this instance...

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Re: Best Actor

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:25 am

Eddie Redmayne has been a predicted nominee for me since April of last year. Until August, I had Brad Pitt listed as winner because he seemed "due" out of all the actors in competition, but Fury never went anywhere. So, August 31, I shifted my winner prediction to Redmayne. So, it's obvious that he was a contender at least at that point (in my mind anyway). I had changed my prediction to Keaton the day of the Oscar nominations because it seemed like Birdman had surged, but after seeing Redmayne win at the SAG and BAFTA, I decided that I was right originally and went back to Redmayne.

The concept of Redmayne winning for that performance alone (sight-unseen) isn't so unfathomable if it was predictable in August. I should have stuck with my perception and kept Redmayne in there, but a run of precursors seemed to give Keaton a boost.
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Re: Best Actor

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:57 am

Mister Tee wrote:
I mean, fine, Keaton didn’t win -- but to say he was never in it is asserting unknowable facts, and feels like kicking him when he’s down. How can you say he won no major precursors? He won the Broadcast Critics Award



Big deal! :) No, I mean - Eddie Redmayne still won all the TRUE major precursors in sight (like it or not, and I didn't) which means that he was by far the big favorite, especially considering that the role was a compendium of all the cliches one instinctively, but not wrongly, associates with Oscar-winning performances. Yes, he wasn't good and the movie was bad (though it still was a Best Picture nominee), but this doesn't mean much, especially nowadays. Betting against him would have just been foolish - and having seen his reaction at the Oscars, and during his speech, well - I don't know if he behaved that way even at the other prizes, but let's face it, if he did, by certain standards (not mine) he was "just adorable". And this helps, we know it.

It's not like one couldn't find reasons for a Michael Keaton win - he certainly had a showy role (but so did Redmayne), and he was in a much-liked movie which would most probably win Best Picture. And he played an actor, which in theory could be the kind of role the Academy feel close to - except that even the Screen Actors Guild had gone with Redmayne. And unlike what one might think, traditionally - and despite a few famous exceptions - playing an actor isn't necessarily Oscar-winning material. They prefer to identify with geniuses - disabled, even.

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Re: Best Actor

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:30 am

Well said, Bog, Tee and Heksagon. For a while there I thought maybe I was looking at things from a grumpy old man's perspective, and maybe I am, but Inarritu and Birdman's wins over Linkater and Boyhood counterbalanced by Keaton's loss really brought out the cynic in me. The only explanation I could see is the herd mentality of the guilds completely overwhelming any chance of anybody/anything winning a major Oscar any more if not earlier sanctioned by the guilds.

Maybe there's some hope left for some independent thinking at the Oscars after all, but it's happened too frequently in the last few years for the critical winds to blow one way, the guilds another and have an Oscar result that is not dictated by the thinking of the guilds rather than the critics which used to be the guiding light unless, of course, there was a sentimental reason to go elsewhere.

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Re: Best Actor

Postby Heksagon » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:14 am

flipp525 wrote:http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/02/23/oscars_best_actor_winner_michael_keaton_lost_because_the_academy_doesn_t.html?wpsrc=fol_tw


Well, this article sure reminded me why I stopped reading Slate regularly a few years ago. Journalists love looking for stories that aren't there.

I find it hard to believe there needs to be any other explanation for Keaton's loss other than that Redmayne's performance was just too strong. In a weaker year, I'm sure Keaton would have won.

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Re: Best Actor

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:17 pm

I have to call foul on this argument for several reasons.

I mean, fine, Keaton didn’t win -- but to say he was never in it is asserting unknowable facts, and feels like kicking him when he’s down. How can you say he won no major precursors? He won the Broadcast Critics Award, which has for the past decade been part of the TV triumvirate that makes the race boring (and note that he topped Redmayne despite the fact the group had already given him their comedy award, and might have gone with a base-covering split). He won the Globe – of course not competing with Redmayne, but, in turn, Redmayne wasn’t competing with him. The BAFTA was meaningless: an award that went to Firth/Mulligan in ’09, and Rush and Bonham Carter in ’10, offered clear home-field edge to Redmayne. The SAG win was, as I see it, Redmayne’s only major advantage over Keaton – an important one, and in the end predictive, but hardly a game-ender (otherwise Viola Davis and Tommy Lee Jones would have nicer hardware on their shelves). I don’t see how that run of precursors adds up to a pretend race.

Especially, as Bog notes, when Keaton’s film was racking up a run of the classic best picture categories (picture/director/screenplay) -- a run that has often pulled a leading actor over the line. I mentioned in the categories-one-by-one thread that several races over the years thought to lean in one direction ended instead in favor of the best picture winner -- Hopkins beat favored Nolte in ’91, Spacey topped Washington in ’99, Crowe beat Hanks in ’00, and Dujardin bested Clooney in ’11. Even US unknowns – from Scofield, through Kingsley and Abraham, to again Dujardin – have been carried along by their winning films. Why wouldn't a popular guy like Keaton, with many friends in the industry, be at least a solid possibility?

I honestly don’t get your “comebacks never win” argument; it seems to have been contorted to only apply to people (Murray, Rourke) who didn’t win. I see no reason why McConaughey – never as big a star as Keaton, and far more a joke for a decade-plus – would miss the classification. (His comeback started a year earlier? Hey, Murray’s started five years before, with Rushmore.) Jeff Bridges: Between The Fisher King and Crazy Heart, he had literally one movie (Seabiscuit) anyone came out to see (The Big Lebowski died in theatres; it’s entire reputation came after the fact). If that wasn’t a comeback, what is? Plenty of other people had seen their careers fall on very soft times prior to winning. The Turning Point had been Shirley MacLaine’s sole decent credit in almost two decades prior to Terms of Endearment; she’d even resorted to a TV series in the 70s (and at that point, TV meant your film career was over) And how about Cher? A huge star in the 60s, a TV omnipresence in the early 70s, then cold-as-ice until a sudden resurgence and an Oscar. (And that’s just considering the lead categories. Some supporting winners, like Sinatra and Red Buttons, are considered legendary for the comebacks involved.)

It seems to me your argument (and Slate’s) only works if you take the premise that, had Redmayne’s performance not existed, Keaton would STILL not have won this year. And that I dispute loudly. I think, contrarily, Keaton just had the huge misfortune to come up opposite exactly the sort of performance (physical handicap AND celebrity impersonation) that has been unfortunate catnip to Oscar voters for years on end, but especially lately. Without that circumstance, I say Keaton would have been right in line with all those best actor winners Bog lists, an easy winner this year… and the comeback would most definitely have been a greasing factor.

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Re: Best Actor

Postby Bog » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:27 pm

I have not clicked in nor had I seen Flipp's link...I hope it isn't what I had just tried to articulate...if so I promise! I had not seen that yet.

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Re: Best Actor

Postby Bog » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:23 pm

flipp525 wrote:
FilmFan720 wrote:Very true. I was focusing on recent times, but that is certainly in the same category as Keaton and Rourke.

Conversely, they did honor the comeback narrative when they gave Ingrid Bergman her second (and some might argue even) her third trophies. But, in general, I think you're right about the over-reliance on a "trend" that really doesn't have much applicable precedent.


So here's my question...along the lines of this thread maybe combined with the trivia aspect: in the last 50+ years, what is the precedent for Redmaybe defeating Keaton with the idea that the film starred him, focused almost solely on him, was basically solely about his journey, AND his performance was also highly lauded and awarded througout Oscar season, then the film went on to basically sweep all major Oscars (basically the film had no editing or score) for which a win was reasonable EXCEPT for said performance?

In the last 50 years I don't recall this has happened (since the ironically celebrated Sound of Music, though someone may have to help me with historically)...Scofield, Steiger, Scott, Brando, Hackman, Nicholson/Fletcher, Keaton, Hoffman, Kingsley, MacLaine, Abraham, Hoffman (again),
Hopkins, Hanks, Spacey, Swank, Firth...shit even Jean Dujardin was able to be carried along against mega star Clooney!

'06- Damon/DiCaprio was a little sketchy and Leo not even nominated for the right film
'02- Crowe had JUST won
Maybe I'm forgetting Fiennes was a bigger contender in '96 or Neeson in '93?
Freeman maybe is the best case in '89?
'85- Streep...but had 2 Oscars at the time
All the way back to '69 now and those 2 competed against each other...
Then we finally get to Andrews...with Finney and O'Toole and Lemmon in there as well bunched together...not bad company but seemingly pretty terrible luck for Keaton this year. Likely more and more voters and with a herd-ish mentality contributes to this over the past 5 decades. I find it quite a downer especially with the history.


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