Oscar Acting Up Close: Quite a bit Country, not enough Rock ‘N Roll

Image courtesy of Alt. Film Guide

As it stands now, it looks like the four winners for for acting Oscars this weekend will be Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz, and Mo’Nique.  One washed-up country singer, one modern country belle, one Jew Hunter, and one mom from Hell- see any similarities?

The acting categories usually go to four very distinct roles from very different styles of acting.  Not so this year.

If you were to look at the supporting categories this year, you’d see that.  Waltz gives his tour de force in four languages layered with charm and menace, while Mo’Nique gives hers in one language, amps up the menace, takes away charm, and adds insanity.   Different styles of acting?  Yes.  But, both of these roles are antagonists.

This is not where I see the problem. It’s commonplace for villains to be rewarded for their evil deeds in the supporting category.  We saw it last year, with Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight and Penelope Cruz’s psycho bitch in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. What really concerns me is the main acting trophies.

Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock are the two clear front runners for the top acting prizes.  Both play roles that appeal to rural country music lovers, and both have never won an Oscar before.

To put this into perspective, take a look at the past few years’ winners.  We have Sean Penn and Kate Winslet last year, one playing gay politician Harvey Milk and the other a Nazi woman who seduces a young man.  The year before that we got Daniel Day-Lewis as a greedy oil baron and Marion Cotillard as the famously troubled French singer Edith Piaf.

The only thing these roles have in common is that they are Oscar winning.  The reason they are so different, I believe, is that they truly are great performances that were looked at on merit.  However, I still see sentimentality creeping in among them, and this year it has personified more than ever.

Look at those past performances I mentioned earlier, and think about the circumstances surrounding the victory.  Heath Ledger was given his because he died, even though he deserved it anyways.  Kate Winslet was given hers because she had been nominated several times before and hadn’t won.

Oscar loves gooey shit that has nothing to do with the actual performance.  Both of the likely winners on Oscar night will be non-winners who are built up to “deserve it,” this time.  In truth, I don’t think either of them really do.

Jeff Bridges is basically taking Micky Rourke’s role in The Wrestler last year as the washed-up guy looking for redemption and just adding country songs to it.  He’s a good actor, but like Winslet, this isn’t the movie he should be win for.   Sandra Bullock is playing her typical confidant, funny, sympathetic woman, but she adds on a Southern accent so it’s Oscar worthy.

I would love to be wrong about this scenario, which is why I’d also love to see an upset on Oscar night in either category.  To inject some fresh blood, I’d go with Carey Mulligan in An Education and Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker.

Who would you pick?  Do you think that Oscar is going soft, or am I just imagining it?

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