Playing the Veteran Card – Cannes Favorites That Could Translate to Oscar!

ALL-IS-LOSTJust prior to the festival, in the latest round of Oscar Predictions, Bruce Dern emerged in the #1 spot on the Best Actor list.  Thinking he could build some goodwill for himself after an illustrious career that has only resulted in one sole nomination and an unmeasured celebrity status.  Judging by the early word for Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, even when the word on the film was mixed, he seemed to be a highlight for many.  I would throw the beautiful Kristin Scott Thomas in the same category for her portrayal in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, a film that has had reactions from all sides of the spectrum from absolutely love it to absolutely hate it.  As the Cannes Film Festival gets ready to close its doors, many films have had its bow with European audiences.  As we typically look to the prestigious May festival to reveal potential awards contenders for the fall, some films have gained (and lost) an extreme amount of buzz.

Peter O’ Toole went zero for eight in his Oscar tenure, never winning a gold man but was awarded an Honorary Oscar in his career.  This year, Robert Redford, an acclaimed actor that has only won for directing Ordinary People (1980) is receiving some of his best reviews in years for his role in J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost.  Chandor was nominated for his Original Screenplay two years ago for his writing and directorial debut, Margin Call (2011).  While the natural comparisons will be for films like Cast Away (2000) and 127 Hours (2010), Chandor’s single character film that puts Redford through the ringer is said to be quite an experience.  However, the film is said to only have few moments of dialogue with Redford delivering a virtually mute performance for the rest.  The last time Redford acted in a film that he didn’t direct himself was Lasse Hallström’s An Unfinished Life (2005).  The last time Redford has been in any real contention for awards, you likely have to go back to The Horse Whisperer (1998) with Matt Damon and a very young Scarlett Johansson.  This type of vehicle is a good change of pace and is the type of role that could remind us of how gifted Redford is in his abilities as an actor.

Veterans typically attempt to find their due in the supporting categories, where minor yet surprisingly substantial turns can find love.  Granted, the Oscar awarded is usually rewarding the career’s work rather than the actual performance its attached to.  You can look back at examples like Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine (2005), Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby (2004), and James Coburn for Affliction (1998).  An actor who could fit this criteria for the fall season could be John Goodman for his role in Joel Coen & Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis.  The film opened to a very warm and accepting crowd at Cannes with many calling it one of the Coen Brothers best efforts.  Stars Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan received standout notices but I wouldn’t fret too much on the possibility for Goodman to build a campaign for Supporting Actor in the fall.  He’ll also have another role later this year in George Clooney’s The Monuments Men to keep him on voters radar.

inside-llewyn-davis-goodmanHas anyone noticed that Goodman has had roles in the past two Best Picture winners, Argo (2012) and The Artist (2011)?  That could bode well for either of the Coens or Clooney’s film this year.  Looking at where John Goodman’s career has been since he starred on the hit-show “Roseanne” in the 80’s and 90’s, a role he received a Golden Globe award along with seven consecutive Emmy nominations, it’s weird the stars haven’t aligned for him yet.  In the cult world of fanboy-ism, he should have an Oscar opposite Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski (1998).  He’s also had memorable roles in Barton Fink (1991) and Sea of Love (1989).  The former has probably been his closest dance with the gold statue.  Watch out for him this year.

Question…when does an actor transition from a regular movie-star type into what we affectionately call, veterans?  We could simply put an age restriction on it but there’s got to be more than that.  I don’t think I can list the criteria but perhaps this is something we can talk about out in the open.

  • A body of work that features no less than forty films?
  • Cannot be any more famous than Brad Pitt but not any less famous than Clint Howard?
  • Should have mostly, if not, all gray hair at this juncture in their career?

That’s just the beginning.  I bring this up because I think we’re on the verge of some strong actors with possible strong performances this year.  Woody Harrelson (Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace), Willem Dafoe (Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man), Stellan Skarsgaard (Jonathan Teplitzky’s The Railway Man), and Tim Roth (Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco) are borderline.  I’d say Harrison Ford is already there after producing a memorable turn in 42 and Alec Baldwin is closer than most and will have a role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.

As we get closer to the end of the first half of the year, deeper, more meaningful analysis over the potential of 2013-2014 Oscar race will be coming up.  Just thinking out loud.

Discuss in the comments.