WHY BRAD PITT WILL WIN BEST ACTOR FOR THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON: Because he had to find the essence of his character buried under pounds of old-age makeup – while the character itself was a young one, and Pitt had to portray that essential contradiction and did so very well. Because he is a longterm bankable star internationally and has kept multiple studios afloat by generating huge overseas receipts for crap like The Mexican or Troy, and deserves a little recognition for doing that while still trying to work on genuinely good projects. Because he is a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body. Because, beneath it all, he’s a movie geek who loves movies, and that’s the sort of person who should win awards. Because his movie is the biggest hit in this category.
WHY BRAD PITT WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTOR FOR THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON: Because Benjamin Button is a movie of, shall we say, questionable merit. Because it’s a loooooong movie of questionable merit. Because Pitt hasn’t done nearly enough truly magnificent work to merit an award for the sake of his career. Because he can’t keep his dick in his pants.
WHY FRANK LANGELLA WILL WIN BEST ACTOR FOR FROST/NIXON: Because he is a storied character actor who has never won an award. Because he was in the stage play before he was in the movie. Because originally he wasn’t going to be in the movie version until the producers and director decided nobody else could do that role like he could. Because he’s really tall and growly. Because he played Richard Nixon and knocked it out of the park. Because Ron Howard.
WHY FRANK LANGELLA WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTOR FOR FROST/NIXON: Because Frost/Nixon is a boring movie with two good performances in it. Because he’s not the sort of storied character actor with six billion memorable roles. Because he is a workhorse who just does good work quietly and people do not make a fuss about that sort of thing.
WHY RICHARD JENKINS WILL WIN BEST ACTOR FOR THE VISITOR: Because it was a once-in-your-life performance in a once-in-your-life opportunity. Because he was compelling for nearly two straight hours, owning his character and dominating the screen. Because sometimes voters want to give a nod to the compelling indie movie. Because Hollywood liberals can’t resist a liberal-message movie like this one.
WHY RICHARD JENKINS WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTOR FOR THE VISITOR: Because if voters are going to celebrate a great character actor this year, it’ll be the much older Frank Langella. Because Jenkins got no “big speech” or similar obvious character moment to which voters can point when explaining their vote to their friends. Because he’s a character actor, but the sort of character actor who earns “hey, it’s that guy” status rather than “hey, it’s Christopher Walken!” status. Because his movie got quietly released during the summer and people had the opportunity to forget about it.
WHY SEAN PENN WILL WIN BEST ACTOR FOR MILK: Because it’s timely, a movie about gay rights coming right on the heels of Proposition 8, and Hollywood voters will want to send a message. Because Penn inhabited his character fully and completely in a way that is rare. Because Penn is likely the greatest male actor currently working today, and definitely the greatest “officially” Method-trained actor. Because it’s the best sheer performance in this category.
WHY SEAN PENN WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTOR FOR MILK: Because he won a statue recently (for Mystic River). Because the timeliness of the award means Penn will get to deliver a painfully self-righteous speech that will make everybody, even his friends and ideological comrades, wince. Because Milk is so faithful to its source material that at times it comes across as slightly boring.
WHY MICKEY ROURKE WILL WIN BEST ACTOR FOR THE WRESTLER: Because it was the role that obviously required the most dedication and work in this category. Because Rourke didn’t just have to explore emotional pain, but a wide range of physical pain as well. Because the movie serves as an allegory for his life’s pattern. Because he is the comeback kid.
WHY MICKEY ROURKE WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTOR FOR THE WRESTLER: Because the hype for him came late in the voting season due to a later-than-average studio push. Because the subject matter of his film is comparatively declasse and that does hurt his chances. Because comeback or no, he’s still the guy who made Wild Orchid and Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man. Because he looks like he will fuck your shit up.