Oscars Trend: Biographical Performances
It’s that time of year again... the time I look forward to almost more than any other. There is a plethora of seriously quality films showing in theatres, the stars comes out in full force, there is event after event with the most beautiful dresses on display. Awards season is here.
As someone who has been lucky enough to work in the film industry for the past year, and someone who is genuinely just a huge film fan, I love this time of year. I make an effort to see as many of the main contender films as possible. One such film this time around is the fantastic biopic about one of the great scientists of our time, Stephen Hawking. I instantly loved The Theory of Everything, not only because it is a beautiful insight into an incredible life I didn’t know a lot about, but because the performances were wonderful, which hardly comes as surprise given the talent involved.
Lead actor, Eddie Redmayne, has had a fantastic couple of weeks. He took home the Best Actor trophy at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and has been nominated in just about every other significant awards ceremony from the BAFTAs to the top dog Academy Awards. He’s definitely been pulling ahead in the race, and after watching this film it is easy to see why. I am yet to see all of the five films with lead actors nominated for the Oscar, so don’t want to make a call just yet.
One thing I can say with certainty, The Academy Awards certainly have a tendency to recognise the performances by actors who portray real life figures. In the last decade, seven out of ten award-winning performances have been granted to actors' on-screen portrayals of famous, or sometimes not-so-famous figures from history. What makes it hard this year is that four out of the five nominees are up for such a role. This just got interesting!
I always find the Academy Awards a little strange. There are so very many incredible films that come out each year. The fact that only a handful get acknowledged during awards season, and considering the difference the awards makes to the individuals who receive them seems a little nuts. Just because a small group of people say one actor is better than another doesn’t really make it so, does it? Regardless, I can’t help but get caught up in the whole thing and enjoy watching the Oscars race with bated breath. I aim to see all contending films ahead of the final Academy Awards ceremony, I’ll let you know who my money is on! In the meantime, having seen Redmayne’s fantastic performance, I’m in his corner. Watch this space.
Let's take a look at some biographical performances that have won the top gong over the years.
Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (2014 winner) Last year deserving recipient, Matthew McConaughey underwent a dramatic transformation for his award winning role that left him unrecognisable from his usual buffed, bronze self. The performance was exceptional and started what has since been labelled as the “McConaissance.”
Daniel Day- Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012 winner) As well as having an uncanny resemblance to the famous President, Daniel Day-Lewis always delivers remarkable performances... this was his second time taking home the Best Actor title.
Colin Firth as King George VI in The King's Speech (2010 winner) The actor’s delicate portrayal of the private struggles of the accidental king was well worth the recognition he received. The masterful performance was at once emotional, entertaining and empathetic.
Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Milk (2008 winner) Harvey Milk was a figure I was unfamiliar with before seeing this film. Perhaps what impressed me the most, and led me to appreciate his performance all the more, was having since see footage of the politician. Penn’s representation of Milk is uncanny, and this was a stellar acting job, and a well deserved win.
Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006 winner) Whitaker was formidable as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. You know how sometimes actors are so good in their roles that you can never quite see again them without remembering that performance? It is often when actors play baddies that this happens for me, and this is a prime example. A job well done.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote (2005 winner) This is one film I am truly ashamed to say I have not yet seen! From all accounts, and the awards granted to him, the late, great actor’s performance is exceptional, and perhaps the role for which he is best remembered. Must see ASAP... shame on you, Rachel.
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray (2004 winner) Biopics about rock stars of old was quite a thing for a while there, and this was one of the best. Jamie Foxx's take on the blues legend was so spot on, it would have been crazy for this recognition not to be granted. His voice is almost identical!