Monday, May 18, 2020

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Actor 2010

The Contenders:

James Franco: 127 Hours
Javier Bardem: Biutiful
Colin Firth: The King’s Speech (winner)
Jesse Eisenberg: The Social Network
Jeff Bridges: True Grit

What’s Missing

Every May, the They Shoot Zombies list gets updated. It takes me a couple of days to revamp my Excel document, website, and the Letterboxd list I keep on it, so I’ve been busy doing that the last few days. I nearly forgot that Monday means Oscar posts. The nominations for Best Actor 2010 aren’t bad. Oscar’s biases are going to leave out both Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Connor Paolo in Stake Land. The same, although for different reasons, is true for Riz Ahmed in Four Lions. Scoot McNairy in Monsters would have been a very interesting choice for a nomination. Chris Pine and Denzel Washington could have been fun nominations in Unstoppable even if they probably don’t really deserve it. Jim Broadbent could’ve gotten a nomination for Another Year, and Ryan Gosling certainly could have gotten some love for Blue Valentine. Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio did both Shutter Island and Inception in 2010, and to have both ignored is pretty sad.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. It’s chic to bag on The King’s Speech these days and has been pretty much since the moment it won. The truth is that I like the film pretty well. It’s a good film, if not a great one, and the level of hate that it gets is strictly because it won awards it didn’t deserve. Colin Firth is actually quite good in this role, and I don’t really hate the nomination. But it’s not deserving of this win, and if I really sit down and look at everything that could be nominated for this year, I’m not sure a merely good performance makes it through.

4. Jeff Bridges is hard to dislike as an actor, and any nomination for him makes me think at least a little I wouldn’t mind if he won. True Grit is a fine movie and I like this version a bit better than I like the original. But this is very much ground previously covered, and it almost seems presumptuous that a role that has already won an Oscar would win a second one. It’s a fine performance, but it also seems kind of unnecessary. Additionally, I still think this is Hailee Steinfeld’s movie more than anyone else’s.

3. When it comes to James Franco and 127 Hours, I may be addressing the role here more than I am the actor. I’m more or less neutral on Franco as an actor. I’ll give him a great deal of credit here in that he manages to drive the movie forward on his own. But I also wonder what this was done in service of. I mean, the main character of this film certainly survived something terrible, but also more or less set himself up to have that kind of thing happen to him. BOSUD (biography of someone undeserving) springs to mind.

2. Javier Bardem is a fine actor who I tend to like in general. When he’s given good material, he is more than a fine actor. Biutiful is good material, and Bardem makes a meal of it. But this is a very difficult movie to like because of how overwhelmingly somber and brutal it is. Biutiful is a punch in the stomach for its entire running time, and while that is not Bardem’s fault, it does figure in to what I think. I don’t want to watch this again, and while Bardem is good, he’s not good enough to warrant a second viewing.

My Choice

1. Which means that I’m giving this to Jesse Eisenberg. The Social Network is very much a movie for late Gen-X/early Millennials, and were they better represented in the Academy, I have no doubt that this would have won Best Picture and Eisenberg would be regularly dusting an Oscar on one of his shelves. And in truth, that’s what should have happened. Eisenberg is pitch perfect in this role from the opening moments to the close. He’s the right amount of smug and arrogant and needy. He got robbed, and I think everyone knows it.

Final Analysis


  1. I had no problems with the actors who were nominated and Colin Firth's win though there were so many performances that year that were overlooked. Stephen Dorff for Somewhere I thought was the performance of the year and how he was never able to be in better films after that is beyond me. To ignore Leo for both Inception and Shutter Island is wrong as is Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine, William Shimmel for Certified Copy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Hesher, Riz Ahmed for Four Lions, and Ewan McGregor for The Ghost Writer are just criminal.

    I would make the case for Edgar Ramirez for Carlos but that was more of a miniseries than film.

    1. It was a good year, a better year than the nominations would indicate.

  2. I can't disagree with you although I haven't seen Biutiful.

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    1. Biutiful is a difficult film to sit through. Nothing good happens.

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