Leo And Brad: Oscar Frontrunners?

Scott Feinberg has written an analysis of the upcoming Oscar race for Best Actor. It makes some valid points: If the biopic “J. Edgar” is good, then its star, Leonardo DiCaprio, is a frontrunner in the category. I’m less sure about the supposition that Brad Pitt (pictured), in “Moneyball,” is the other leading contender. I expect “Moneyball” to be a hit, in fact certainly a bigger hit than “J. Edgar,” and it’s already gotten strong reviews at the Toronto festival. But even if you count Paul Newman‘s pool player in “The Color of Money” instead of Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull,” it’s been 25 years since a sportsman took home the Academy’s trophy. (Sandra Bullock’s win was for a sports-related movie, “The Blind Side,” that, like “Moneyball,” was based on a Michael Lewis book, but Bullock didn’t play a professional coach or athlete.) What’s more, I’m not sure Pitt’s role has sufficient gravitas to win the Oscar. But I haven’t seen the movie, and I certainly wouldn’t be stupid enough to say that Pitt won’t be a nominee. I think Feinberg is dead wrong to say that George Clooney doesn’t have a chance to win Best Actor because he won Best Supporting Actor six years ago. Plenty of actors have won a second Oscar within a decade of the first: Michael Caine, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, De Niro. The movie for which Clooney could be nominated, “The Descendants,” may be a downer, but I’m not so sure that’s an automatic disqualification. (Especially when this season Clooney has the one-two punch of “The Descendants” plus “The Ides of March.”) The fact is that no actor in Hollywood represents how Hollywood likes to see itself — glamour plus progressive politics — better than George Clooney. That counts for something. But I agree with Feinberg that if “J. Edgar” delivers the goods then it will be difficult to beat Leo. And that Pitt is a contender, just not necessarily a frontrunner.

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