Wearing the Clothes, Walking the Walk

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Continuing my investigation into the current crop of Oscar nominees, we arrive at…

Best Supporting Actor

The punter in me is probably recommending you lay your hard-earned on Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club: he comes in with a wash of awards including the Golden Globe. But I’m going to make a pitch for Michael Fassbender winning, and if the odds are good, that’s where I’m going to lay my punt. And it’s precisely because Leto won the Globe.

12-years-a-slave-michael-fassbenderHere’s the vibe: in Leto’s Globe acceptance speech, he thanked everyone for giving him this award despite the fact that he’d been away from screen acting for six years (he was off doing music I gather). Fair enough! Talent is talent and deserves respect. But this is what Fassbender has done in those last six years:

Hunger

Inglorious Basterds

X-Men: First Class

Jane Eyre

Shame

A Dangerous Method

Prometheus

And that’s just a sample.

Fassbender didn’t even get a nomination for Shame, and he deserved the statue itself (it went to Jean Dujardin for The Artist; Shame was completely ignored by the Oscars). His body of work is incredible and all leads to his performance as Epps in 12 Years A Slave. Epps is one of the most intriguing characters in years and Fassbender is perfect: contradictory, somewhat slow, sexually obsessed, domineering and yet terribly insecure, alcoholic, self-pitying, self-lacerating, and often demonic. It’s an astonishing performance of an extremely difficult character.

27LETO1_SPAN-articleLarge-v2Leto’s Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club is very sympathetic, sometimes witty and an adequate foil to the dominant performance of that film by Matthew McConaughey, but nowhere near the level of difficulty, nor, therefore, the level of achievement that Epps carries. The cross-dressing element has definitely added to Leto’s cred in the awards stakes, but how about putting on the clothing of a slaver? That’s tough too.

So it’s a tough call. Against what may be common sense, I’m calling for Fassbender to win it, both deservedly and actually. Incidentally, the other performers in this category – Jonah Hill in Wolf of Wall Street, magical discovery Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, and Bradley Cooper in American Hustle, are all excellent as well and deserve their nominations, but I can’t see them pipping either Fassbender or Leto at the winner’s post.

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