That a now slimmer, totally unfunny Seth has been nominated for an Oscar before McLovin’ (whose take on Evil Ed was, if no patch on Colin Ferrell’s smoldering Jerry in the Fright Night redo, still a more fully realized character than Moneyball’s Peter Brand, movies’ all-time flimsiest amalgamate) is the only kink in a category preoccupied with old men getting real with their feelings. Which is why no one should’ve been surprised in the slightest to see Albert Brooks given the cold shoulder: His Drive heavy had no feelings to bloviate (though the compassion he showed one of Drive’s supporting characters even while taking his life away should’ve been more properly noted). I’m not sure whether Brooks should take it as a compliment or an insult to have been excluded, but it has to sting a little bit that Hill’s downright catatonic bullpen pencil pusher usurped him in what seems clearly this year’s biggest coattails nod.
Hill would seem the most obvious candidate to get eliminated from contention first, though Kenneth Branagh’s lip-smacking sexual and directorial blue balls as Mr. Vivien Leigh are probably too self-defeatingly fruit-flavored to resonate. He just wants to feel up his leading lady, pure and simple. As much as voters probably heard strains of “I Know You, I Live You” every time Branagh’s Olivier imagined taking a lick from Marilyn Monroe’s honey pot, the tragicomedy pales compared to the other three names in the mix.
At 82, Max von Sydow is by a few months the category’s oldest nominee. And though I’m probably the last Oscar blogger to point out that his speechless performance as a man so apparently stricken by (a very predictable) personal loss in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close plays awfully well in this silent movie-obsessed Oscar year, Stephen Daldry’s direction turns him into nothing more emotional than a sage Magic 8 Ball. In contrast, Nick Nolte maximizes every second of his screen time, crying copious Jim Beam tears and repeatedly recreating this moment. Almost any other year we’d be calling him the frontrunner, but Oscar just awarded two hot messes in a sparring weepie last year.
Meanwhile, Christopher Plummer has earned this year’s “It’s time” with absolutely no resistance, and the baitiness of his part—an elderly man very belatedly blossoming as the gay man he repressed for 75 years—seals it. I can’t be the only one who’s now secretly obsessed with the thought of Captain Von Trapp going down on Liesl’s Nazi boyfriend Rolfe in the gazebo.
Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Could Win: Nick Nolte, Warrior
Should Win: Nick Nolte, Warrior