Last week we pitted our Best Actress contenders against one another in a sexy battle to the death — but what of the menfolk? This year’s Academy Awards offers an impressive list of Y-chromosome-enhanced thespians duking it out for a Shiny Gold Dude to place on their mantle, including two veterans of last year’s award ceremony. Will Jeff Bridges get the two-peat? Will Colin Firth be v-v-v-vindicated for last year’s loss? Or will one of our young Turks pull off an upset? Let’s brush the green leafy substance off our scales (it’s oregano, I swear!) and weigh the pros and cons.
Pro: Sure, Colin Firth’s a great actor. But if Oscars were handed out for talent alone he’d have taken last year’s trophy for his performance in A Single Man. However this year Firth has the ace up his sleeve with The King’s Speech: Namely, a disability. If there’s one thing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences loves more than hookers, cocaine and Scientology, it’s gimps. Just look at the handi-capable characters stepping off the Best Actor short bus: We have an autistic Dustin Hoffman (Rainman), a palsied Daniel Day Lewis (My Left Foot), a sight-tarded Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman), simple-minded Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), and nuttier-than-a-bagful-of-squirrels Geoffrey Rush (Shine). Seriously, is thi the Academy Awards or the Special Olympics?
Con: Other than that he’s almost too obvious a choice, I don’t really see a chink in the King’s armor.
Pro: In the last few years James Franco has done a lot to step out of Spider-man’s shadow and establish a reputation as an actor to be taken seriously. He’s shown range (flexing his dramatic chops in Milk and comedic muscle in Pineapple Express), brains (Franco’s currently a PhD candidate at Yale) and quirk (i.e his PoMo ironic stint on “General Hospital”). But 127 Hours was Franco’s acting tour de force. His performance as a hapless hiker trapped in a gorge was so engaging that one forgets that this film was essentially one character and one location. If there’s anyone who can deny Firth’s King his Oscar c-c-crown it’s Franco.
Con: Franco’s performance was impressive but Franc-ly, I don’t think he went far enough. If he really wanted that Oscar he would’ve gone full-on method and chopped off his own arm. What’s a limb compared to the ultimate show of respect from your peers? De Niro in his prime would’ve done it. And Brando would’ve chopped off not just an arm but a leg too, regardless of whether or not the character was missing any limbs.
Pro: While the Oscar buzz favors Firth and Franco, there are still more than two dogs in this fight. We should not overlook Jesse Eisenberg who, with The Social Network, finally proved to the world that he’s not just Michael Cera in a Jewish mask.
Con: The biggest strike against Jesse Eisenberg has nothing to do with performance, but rather with the character he portrayed. Mark Zuckerberg – in real life and in The Social Network – is a backstabbing borderline sociopath who’s made billions shilling our personal information to the highest bidder. It’s the Academy Award for Best Actor, not biggest douchebag.
How was Bardem’s performance in Biutiful? How am I supposed to know? It wasn’t in English! He could’ve been saying anything for all I know. He could’ve been reading his grocery list, reciting dirty limericks, or just making up nonsense words. Are we really supposed to give the Oscar to a guy who’s essentially babbling? And hey, dude… where’s the bowl cut?
Don’t get me wrong, I love The Dude, but Jeff Bridges already took home the Shiny Gold Dude for Best Actor just last year and there’s no way in hell anyone’s giving him an Oscar for playing the same character as the one for which John Wayne won his Shiny Naked Fella. Do you want to be haunted by the Duke’s ghost, commie? Didn’t think so.
ADVANTAGE: Colin Firth. G-g-g-give that m-m-man a-n-n-n Oscar!