Javier Bardem did an above average job, but it wasn’t enough to save an overrated movie from being a bit insufferable. He got this nomination because everyone has had their head up Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ass since “21 Grams,” for no real apparent reason that I can see. “Babel” was somewhat interesting. So is “Biutiful,” and Mr. Bardem’s performance does help lift it in the same way Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett helped elevate past mediocrity. The performance wasn’t Oscar worthy, however.
James Franco’s nomination feels more like a nod to the role. Franco delivered a solid show, but I think it was a role that a number of other actors could have played just as well. But everyone that sat through that amputation scene will remember it for the rest of their lives.
Jesse Eisenberg’s performance was fantastic, I’ll admit, but it was a performance from him we’ve already seen in “The Squid and the Whale.” The Mark Zuckerberg he portrays feels like a continuation of Walt Berkman, but with Aaron Sorkin writing his dialogue instead of Noah Baumbach. That’s not a dis, mind you. That performance of that character is what turned me on to Mr. Eisenberg in the first place; it just doesn’t deserve an Oscar the second time we see it.
That leaves us with The Dude and Mr. Darcy. Joel Coen directed Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski” and many people consider that to be his defining role. The year “The Big Lebowski” wasn’t nominated for any Oscars was the same year “Shakespeare In Love” won Best Picture. I can make a strong argument that “The Big Lebowski” blows “Shakespeare In Love” out of the water, and I believe many Academy voters can, too. Coming off of a winning performance at last year’s Academy Awards, being directed by the Coens in another stunning role and giving a performance that blows one’s head back means that Jeff Bridges, The Dude, should walk away with another Oscar this year.
But he won’t. Mr. Darcy will sweep in and take it away. He was nominated for his performance in “A Single Man” last year, but had to watch as The Dude took it down for “Crazy Heart.” This year he will turn the tables in a stunning display of come-from-behindedness. He will stand on the podium and thank the Academy, because he really did give the better performance this year.
And The Dude will abide.
Check out all of my other picks here.
Who do you think will take it home?