Can ‘silent’ beat out ‘sexy’ in Oscars’ Best Actor race?

Can ‘silent’ beat out ‘sexy’ in Oscars’ Best Actor race?
Academy Awards Best Actor nominees, from left, Jean Dujardin of "The Artist," Brad Pitt of "Moneyball" and George Clooney of "The Descendants" mingle at the 31st Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif., Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
by: Sheri Block

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Can a silent actor beat out two of the sexiest men in Hollywood?

With the Oscars just over a week away, the question on everyone’s minds is whether relatively unknown French actor Jean Dujardin, who remained silent for almost the entire duration of “The Artist,” has what it takes to beat out George Clooney’s raw performance in “The Descendants” and Brad Pitt’s understated delivery in “Moneyball.”

“Months ago, if anyone had told me (this would be the case), I’m not sure I would’ve believed it,” says “Canada AM” film critic Richard Crouse.

Fast forward to now. Even though Clooney and Dujardin were both honoured for their roles at the Golden Globes (for dramatic and comedic acting respectively) Dujardin has taken home many other prominent acting awards, including a BAFTA Award and Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG), for his portrayal of a silent film star. With those wins, his chance of taking home the top prize at the Oscars is now a very real possibility, says Crouse.

“When you have the Screen Actors Guild Award people giving Jean Dujardin the award, the vast majority of them are the same actors that will be voting for the Academy Awards as well,” he says.

“When (Dujardin) won, the camera cut to Clooney, cut to Pitt, and you could just see the look of, ‘Really?’ come over their faces . . . it pretty much rules out their chances of winning for the Academy.”

Yet Clooney, who has been nominated for an Oscar three other times for acting but has only won once – in 2006 for “Syriana” – has been receiving plenty of praise for his performance as a “back-up” father in Hawaii who finds out his comatose wife has been cheating on him in "The Descendants." Without relying on his usual charm and sly wit, the vulnerable performance has been called the best of Clooney’s career.

But Crouse still doesn’t think it’s enough.

“I think that people like him and I think he’s terrific in the movie and I think that people feel that he’ll be terrific in other movies and in that he’ll have other chances. I think they’re going a different way this year. It really feels like it,” says Crouse.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Academy went against the popular opinion. In 1999, Italian actor Roberto Benigni won the Best Actor award for “Life is Beautiful,” beating out the likes of Tom Hanks, Edward Norton and Nick Nolte.

But etalk reporter Lainey Lui disagrees and says the Oscar is Clooney’s to lose.

“I think he’s the favourite and if you look at all the experts, they would say that he’s the favourite,” says Lui.

She doesn’t think the SAG awards are going to be the key predictor this year, unlike last year when Colin Firth’s win for “The King’s Speech” made him a shoo-in at the Oscars.

“The fact of the matter is Dujardin is up against the chairman of Hollywood. This is George Clooney – he has a lot of friends among the Academy members, he’s worked the Academy really hard over the past two months so I’m not sure if the SAGs are a great prognosticator this time,” says Lui.

“I think George Clooney has built up a pretty big lead.”

Lui says there is also a possibility that one of the other two nominees – Demian Bichir for “A Better Life” or Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – could slip in under the radar. 

“I wonder if Dujardin and Clooney will split the votes and you might get a dark horse go in, like Gary Oldman. For such an illustrious career, he has never been nominated . . .  or Brad Pitt could squeak in, you never know.”

Whatever the outcome, Lui can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

“This is what’s so exciting for me, as an Oscar watcher and an Oscar addict, this year I finally feel like it’s a race.”

The Academy Awards airs Sunday, Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CTV.


About SheriSheri Block has been covering entertainment for since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!


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