Most Known For: “Warrior,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Great Gatsby”
Snubbed For: “Warrior,” “Animal Kingdom,” “The Great Gatsby”
The Oscars seemed poised for another British invasion this year with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne strong contenders and Timothy Spall and Ralph Fiennes waiting in the wings. But another of Britain’s former colonies has had a lot of recent success with the Academy. Australia has produced a large number of nominees and winners over the last decade, including Hugh Jackman, Jacki Weaver and the late Heath Ledger. One Aussie who hopes to join them is Joel Edgerton.
Edgerton becoming a house hold name is a relatively recent occurrence, but some of his first Hollywood movies were big time films. Edgerton appeared in both “Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” however briefly, as the ill-fated Uncle Owen. He’d sandwich a role in the often forgotten “King Arthur,” which despite not being a great film had a really impressive cast, incluidng Clive Owen, Stellan Skarsgard, Keira Knightley, Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Ray Stevenson, Ray Winstone and Ioan Gruffudd.
Despite the big nature of those projects, it wasn’t until 2010 that Edgerton began to truly break out in Hollywood. Helping his cause was a film from his homeland, the crime drama “Animal Kingdom.” As a critical member of a criminal family, Edgerton’s performance was brief and outshined by the likes of Jacki Weaver stateside, but he won Best Supporting Actor with both the Australian Film Institute and the Film Critics Circle of Australia. He is quite solid in limited work and it was an early seed in what would become a great couple of years for the actor.
That seed didn’t take long to bloom as in 2011 Edgerton starred in Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior,” which is not only one of the best sports movie of this century, but one of the best movies of the last few years. Tom Hardy’s performance has been justly praised, and Nick Nolte’s strong work was rewarded with an Oscar nom, but overlooked is Edgerton. He doesn’t necessarily have the same showiness of his co-stars, but he is on par with them as a father fighting to keep his family afloat while also trying to reconnect with his estranged brother.
After another boost to his profile in Best Picture nominee “Zero Dark Thirty,” Edgerton gave another arguable awards worthy performance in “The Great Gatsby.” As Tom Buchannon, Edgerton certainly plays it up but it is an intense and fun to watch performance right up there with DiCaprio’s turn as Gatsby. “Gatsby” did end up with a couple of below the line nominations and while its no great surprise that it failed to manage anything for Edgerton or DiCaprio it isn’t the craziest idea that they deserved some recognition (Australia chose to nominate him a couple of times for the performance).
Despite the controversy of casting mainly white actors as Egyptians, I suspect Edgerton to continue his solid work as of late with Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” But if I were to predict his next best chance for an Oscar nomination it would be in Scott Cooper’s upcoming “Black Mass” alongside Johnny Depp. As FBI agent John Connolly, who worked with infamous gangster Whitey Bulger, “Black Mass” will certainly have some Oscar hopes next year, and it isn’t too hard to see him as a Supporting Actor contender.
Next year or not, Edgerton will likely be another Aussie who winds up as an Oscar nominee at one point.