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February 18, 2009

A vote for Michael Shannon


Saying you'd like one of the nominees to win an Oscar on Sunday isn't the same thing as saying you'd relish seeing someone else lose. OK, sometimes it is. But in this case, it's not.

We'd love to see Michael Shannon win for what was truly a breakout performance in "Revolutionary Road," an underrated drama from Sam Mendes. 

Brief side note: Even though the dust has settled, we still don't understand the "Rev Road" snub. What, do the Academy voters think Mendes already got his for "American Beauty" so they dismissed him and this piquant period piece out of hand? Then please explain Stephen Daldry, Mr. Three-Nominations-for-Three-Middling-Movies. Please! Somebody?

But we digress.

"Rev Road" didn't do anything for Leonardo DiCaprio in this year's Oscar race and ended up being meaningless for Kate Winslet, with Shannon getting the only acting nod. That's not why we think he should win. He was riveting; he made less than 15 minutes of screen time completely vital and essential to the film; he was a pitch perfect savant/truth teller/court jester.

Does that mean we think Heath Ledger should lose? No, actually it doesn't, and we know he won't.

Heath-ledger-joker-dark-knight But it sure would be nice to see the intense but charming, hard-working, scene-stealing Shannon win a big fat prize. Here's what he had to say to Gold Rush back in December, before the nominations were announced, about the value of the Little Gold Man:

"They'll stick that moniker in front of your name and use it over and over. You could be doing a 'Pokemon' movie and it would still be there. Awards mean something. If they didn't, studios would not be spending tons and tons of money to get them."

And his campaign was in its nascent stages at that point. As he'd explained to us, he turned down a job offer to focus on awards season because he proclaimed himself "not a multitasker" and determined to make the most of the opportunity perchance it never comes around again.

And he promised not to let the grind of the derby wear him down.

"I think it's important to enjoy yourself in this business. People talk about the difficulty of doing press, and I can see that if you have a movie you're ambivalent about. But I loved this movie, I loved the book. I'm having fun, and then after the premiere I'll be back in Red Hook (Brooklyn) lugging clothes to the laundromat like some big pack animal."

Maybe he can spring for fluff-and-fold now? See the entire Gold Rush Q&A with Shannon here.

The other nominees in this race are Josh Brolin for "Milk," Robert Downey Jr. for "Tropic Thunder" and Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Doubt," which in our minds isn't really a supporting role (Hoffman's already a previous best actor winner for "Capote").

Ledger is the odds-on favorite for his over-the-edge-of-insanity portrayal of the Joker in "The Dark Knight." No one has come up with any convincing argument that he shouldn't or won't win. We're there. So as a consolation, we hope to see Shannon back in the mix one day.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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