Murphy and His Oscar
Eddie Murphy is on his way to win an Oscar for Dreamgirls, mainly because he earned it. This performance is a classic case of a gifted comedian showing us dramatic depth and heart that we didn't know he had. He not only sings and dances with panache, but rises to the occasion to reveal a sad and vulnerable older man. He's no longer the swaggering comic.
But that image of Murphy lingers and threatens to divebomb his ascent to Oscar glory. I recognize an Oscar smear campaign when I see one. All it takes is for one poison virus from a rival camp to spread to someone like Jeff Wells and beyond: "People don't really like Eddie," or "he doesn't really want it," or "he is in that awful comedy Norbit that black women hate," or, he's too rich to need or want an Oscar. A pattern starts to emerge. Mark my words, if Murphy doesn't win on Oscar night, it's because someone worked very hard to take it away from him.
I've been watching Murphy at these various award shows and I see a man who's being careful, polite even, who isn't comfortable with the spotlight on him. He reminds me of Sacha Baron Cohen, who is profoundly uncomfortable being himself in front of the press. He'd rather be playing a part. During his Golden Globe acceptance speech, Murphy himself admitted that not taking the money for this role was a very good thing.