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Circuit Consideration: Joseph Gordon-Levitt for “50/50”

For Your Consideration – Best Actor in a Leading Role
Film: 50/50
Director: Jonathan Levine
Screenplay: Will Reiser
Realistic Nominations: Best Original Screenplay

Oscar Scene: Adam’s breakdown in the car before surgery

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is always someone you can count on for solid work (just look at my Under the Circuit piece on him), but he blew me away this year in ’50/50′.  His portrayal of a young man dealing with a cancer diagnosis mixes humor with heartbreak.  Gordon-Levitt was able to show you how someone in this situation would try and keep it all inside and put up a veil of confidence until it all comes crashing down.  The breakdown that his character has in a car the night before surgery is one of the most powerful scenes of 2011.  I was initially pretty sure that JGL would make his presence felt on the precursor circuit, but aside from scoring a Golden Globe nod, it’s been mostly all quiet on the Oscar front.  It’s looking like he’ll be snubbed, but I’d like to put forward this incredibly performance for Best Actor consideration, with ACCA if not for the Academy at this point.

There’s so much that could have gone wrong with this flick, everyone deserves a ton of credit for making it work.  Jonathan Levine’s direction, Will Reiser’s script (which looks headed for a nomination), Seth Rogen’s tender supporting turn (along with Anjelica Huston and Anna Kendrick), and of course JGL’s lead performance.  As Adam, we see Gordon-Levitt go through all the stages of the illness, and it just feels real.  At all times where the film could have rung false, it just soars above expectations, and it’s his work that stands tallest.  I’m sure that if it had been James McAvoy in the lead role the film would have still been good (and perhaps almost as good, just like if Nicole Holofcener had stayed on as director and not yielded to Levine), but it’s undeniable that Gordon-Levitt brought something extra to the part.  The combination of artists in this work is just borderline perfect.  The way that JGL transitions throughout the film just hits all the right notes.  I can’t imagine anyone seeing his breakdown scene and not wanting to vote for him.  I know that’s not the case, but it just feels like the type of performance that gets awards attention.  I suppose it’s just another likely snub to add to the pile that I’ve seen in my time here at The Awards Circuit.

It would give me immense pleasure to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt transition his Golden Globe nod into a surprise Oscar nomination, but he’s right now well on the outside looking in.  The good voters of ACCA however, you all have the chance to right this wrong.  I can’t say for certain how his chances are, but they’re certainly better here than with the Academy.  Perhaps you all will push him through, perhaps not.  Either way, I wanted to submit him for consideration and remind you all just how good he was in the film.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave one of the best performances of 2011 in my eyes, so a Circuit Consideration piece on him just made sense.  Now it’s in your hands, dear readers.  I’ll be interested to see how he ends up doing after this…

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What do you think?

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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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