Jeremy Renner and the Best Actor Race
I’ve yet to see A Single Man or Crazy Heart, mostly due to living in the middle of nowhere, and thus can only comment on the three performances I have seen. I enjoyed George Clooney in Up In The Air, but he was better in Michael Clayton. My opinion on Morgan Freeman in Invictus will come up later on in this post. That leaves Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker. And of the three I’ve seen, he has my vote. It’ll be a difficult race for him, but I think he has a chance of pulling it off. He had perhaps my favorite reaction to his nomination when interviewed on Good Morning America yesterday. When asked about his competition, he replied, “I’ve gotta break some serious legs.”
I thought he was amazing in this film. At times stoic, at times heartbreaking. His performance was that indescribable thing that made this already stellar film unforgettable. In lesser hands this character could have come off as a jackass at times, but Renner imbues the character with just enough humility – and humanity – that the character transcends everything around him. This is a case of perfect player meets the perfect part and I’m glad the Academy lauded such a relative unknown.
That being said, there was another relative unknown actor last year that I feel should have made it into the top 5 – Michael Stuhlbarg from the Coen brother’s newest film A Serious Man. The film pulled off a Best Picture nod and another for Best Original Screenplay, but Stuhlbarg’s amazingly subtle performance in the dramedy was ignored.
I think Stuhlbarg should have gotten a nomination over Morgan Freeman in Clint Eastwood’s tepid, based-on-true-events Invictus. I’m glad that film didn’t sneak into the Best Picture category, but it did get two acting nominations. Both of which I don’t believe it deserved. As horrible as it sounds, I think the Academy just couldn’t not nominated Freeman’s performance because he is so beloved and he was playing Nelson Mandela, one of the most beloved leaders in World History. But that shouldn’t be enough to justify a Best Actor nomination. Freeman was just as blah as the rest of the film. Whereas Stuhlbarg demonstrated such exquisite range in A Serious Man, I was completely blown away. It’s a shame they went with A Name over a great performance.
While I’m on the topic of Invictus, I also think it’s a shame that Matt Damon got nominated for his acting for the first time since his brilliant performance in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, for, again, such a tepid performance. He’s had so many better performances in the last few years (I’ve yet to see The Informant! but I’m willing to bet it’s better). He was far better in 2005’s Syriana, but George Clooney’s Oscar-winning performance got all the attention. This year there were so many wonderful supporting performances, from Steve Buscemi in The Messenger to Alfred Molina in An Education. My pick for that fifth spot, however, would have been Anthony Mackie in The Hurt Locker. He was the straight man to Renner’s manic rogue. It was a perfect pairing of actors and characters and I wish he’d gotten more acclaim for his performance. Also, had he gotten the nomination that would given The Hurt Locker a 10th nomination, breaking its nomination tie with Avatar. And how wonderful would that have been?
Posted on February 3, 2010, in Nominations, the Academy Awards and tagged A Serious Man, A Single Man, Alfred Molina, An Education, Anthony Mackie, Avatar, Best Actor, Crazy Heart, George Clooney, Good Morning America, Good Will Hunting, Invictus, Jeremy Renner, Matt Damon, Michael Clayton, Michael Stuhlbarg, Morgan Freeman, Steve Buscemi, Syriana, the Academy Awards, the Coen brothers, the hurt locker, The Informant!, The Messenger, The Oscars, Up In The Air. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.