×

How they got here: Lead actor

Eye on the Oscars: Oscar Wrap

There’s international flavor to the lead actor category this year, with newcomers from Mexico, France and the U.K. competing against two Oscar-seasoned American thesps.

In fact, many thought Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender would be part of the world summit after collecting numerous critics awards for “Shame,” but he was left out.

Jean Dujardin might have scarcely spoken in “The Artist,” but he made his presence felt with his disarmingly charming smile and empathetic acting. The surprise hit was Dujardin’s third go-round with director Michel Hazanavicius, after two “OSS 117” spy spoofs (which earned him a Cesar nom). For playing fading silent star George Valentin, the Frenchman has racked up kudos including BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe wins, giving him a shot at getting to sing “La Marseillaise” on the Kodak stage.

This season’s other Globe-winning actor, George Clooney, has a supporting actor Oscar (for “Syriana”) on his shelf, but he has more recently been denied lead actor wins. His credible perf as disheveled dad to two wayward daughters in “The Descendants” also earned him National Board of Review and BFCA Critics Choice awards, plus SAG and BAFTA noms.

Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s unorthodox use of stats in player evaluation became a surprise Oscar role in “Moneyball,” thanks to Brad Pitt’s ability to play at once cocksure and unsure, calm and temperamental. Alongside his SAG, BAFTA and Globe noms, Pitt was honored with both National Society and New York Film Critics awards for his perfs in this and “The Tree of Life.” The actor is so far 0 for 2 in the Oscar batting cage.

Gary Oldman’s middle-aged MI6 agent in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” famously played by Alec Guinness in the vintage British TV adaptation, was a subtle but acute performance. Oldman, who astonishingly had never been nominated by the Acad before, also won the San Francisco Film Critics award and earned BIFA, London Critics Circle, Online Film Critics and Satellite noms.

Demian Bichir, most familiar to American auds for “Weeds” after a long career in Mexican film and TV, followed Spirit and SAG noms to his first Oscar recognition, coming in honor of his tender portrayal of an undocumented immigrant gardener in L.A. struggling to raise a teenage son in “A Better Life,” Chris Weitz’s return to smaller-scale film.

Return to the Oscar Wrap

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Manuel Chiche

    Boutique Distributor Manuel Chiche Offers A State of The Industry

    LYON, France  — Manuel Chiche is riding high. Since June, his boutique distribution outlet The Jokers set admission records with Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” selling nearly 1.7 million tickets in France and still going strong as the film heads into its 19th week in theaters. Indeed, “Parasite” is now the second most successful Palme d’Or winner of [...]

  • Toni

    Italy’s L'Immagine Ritrovata Expected to Take Over France’s Eclair Cinema

    LYON, France  —  Leading Italian restoration company L’Immagine Ritrovata’s acquisition of renowned French film lab Eclair Cinéma, announced last month, is expected to be approved by the French Commercial Court of Nanterre, according to a source familiar with the deal. L’Immagine Ritrovata’s French subsidiary, L’Image Retrouvée, last month signed a binding letter with Paris-based Ymagis [...]

  • Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

    Film Review: 'Jay and Silent Bob Reboot'

    In a film culture overrun by Marvel epics, wild-stunt action flicks, and other grandiose juvenilia, it is often said that the mid-budget, script-driven movie for adults is becoming a thing of the past. But don’t tell that to Kevin Smith, whose “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,” a shaggy antic throwaway that premiered Tuesday in the [...]

  • So Long, My Son directed by

    Wang Xiaoshuai's 'So Long, My Son' Earns Six APSA Nominations

    Chinese drama “So Long, My Son” was nominated in six categories for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards, an unprecedented haul that makes the Wang Xiaoshuai-directed film a clear favorite. A drama about separation, secrets, a lifetime of regret, and the consequences of China’s one-child policy, “So Long, My Son” had its premiere in February [...]

  • Alan Rickman

    Film News Roundup: 'Galaxy Quest' Documentary Set for Release

    In today’s film news roundup, rescue drama “Not Without Hope” is back in development, a “Galaxy Quest” documentary is set for release, “The Two Popes” wins another award, and Ella Joyce gets cast. PROJECT REVIVED U.K.-based financing-production outfit Goldfinch has bought feature film rights to Nick Schuyler’s “Not Without Hope” and signed “The Fog” director [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds John Krasinkski

    Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski in Talks for 'Imaginary Friends' Movie

    Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski are in talks to board the fantasy comedy “Imaginary Friends” at Paramount Studios. Paramount recently won the bidding for the property over Lionsgate and Sony. Krasinski will write, direct,  produce and star while Reynolds will co-star if the deals go through. The story centers on a man who can see [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content