Friday, January 30, 2009
Robert Downey Jr. is pissed.
Sure, the whole film industry is congratulating him on his Best Supporting Oscar nomination for “Tropic Thunder.” And yes, the Academy should be praised for recognizing such an unorthodox performance (and it truly is a transcendent display of acting. So. Damn. Funny.) in a comedy, (one that skewers Hollywood, no less) but you just know that Downey is livid in London right now, freezing his ass off on set with the insufferable Jude Law, certain of the fact that he has no chance (NO CHANCE!) of winning the Oscar because he’s nominated in the same category as a dead man.
Heath Ledger will undoubtedly (and most say, deservingly) win for his role as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.” He’s already won a posthumous Golden Globe and SAG Award, and the Oscar is a sure thing.
So, however appropriate Ledger’s Oscar win will be, it will only serve to spite Downey Jr. and strengthen his long-standing hatred of the Academy.
You see, Downey Jr. lost his only other Oscar nomination in what was essentially a similar sympathy vote. In 1993, he turned in the performance of a lifetime as Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin” but unfortunately for him, it was the same year that Al Pacino received two nominations -- in the Supporting and Lead Actor categories for “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Scent of a Woman,” respectively. Pacino won the gold statue for the latter after having been overlooked on six previous occasions. So basically he won because voters could sense that his finest days onscreen were numbered, and roles like Lt. Col. Frank Slade would likely be few and far between. (And they were right; aside from memorable turns a few years later in “The Insider” and “Any Given Sunday,” all of his movies this decade have bombed. Did you see “Two for the Money” or “88 Minutes”? Neither did I.)
Downey Jr. has never really been able to let that loss go. I’ve read several interviews with him, including an incendiary one in the December 1997 issue of Playboy (which I can’t find online…anyone?) in which he slams the Academy for falling for that sentimental 'Pacino deserves to win this time no matter what' crap. The same is sure to happen for Ledger on Feb. 22, so Downey Jr. should just be prepared. Although perhaps now that he is clean, sober and a superhero, he’ll let it go. But I hope not. Sympathy should have no place in awards voting, even if it is the Oscars.
I, for one, am just waiting anxiously for “The Kirk Lazarus Chronicles” to hit the big screen. That needs to happen.
Posted by Brian Byrnes at 1:11 AM