Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One Category at a Time: Best Actor

It was a crowded field even before the nominees were announced. With the exception of Morgan Freeman, these are all fine performances that earned their nominations. The fact that actors like Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley, Viggo Mortensen, and Ben Foster didn't make it in is a testament to the strength of the lineup.

George Clooney is getting better and better at playing himself every year, perfecting his timing and reserved emotion in a role that seems tailor made for him.

Colin Firth shows us a level of subtlety and nuance I didn't know he had in him. It's a train-wreck of sorrow and agony concealed behind a stolid but slowly cracking exterior.

Morgan Freeman... uh... no comment.

Jeremy Renner breaks out with a complicated character of ambiguous moral fibre and questionable mental stability. Without him, The Hurt Locker isn't about anything, but his performance elevates it above action-thriller to complex character study. His supporting cast deserves much credit, but he is the rock on which the film is built.

But at the end of the day, all these actors and everyone else at the Kodak bow down to one man and one man only. And it's about time. Jeff Bridges has been waiting a long time for this. Over the years he's accumulated a bank of goodwill and popularity that dwarfs his competition. On top of that, his performance actually merits the award. It's a lived-in portrayal of alcoholism that hurts, heals, and continues to resonate long after the credits role.

Will win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Should win: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

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