Is Clint Eastwood going to win his first acting Oscar?

Posted by · 6:16 am · October 24th, 2008

Clint Eastwood in Gran TorinoI’ve been mulling this over for a few weeks now, and though we all know it’s foolish to sit back and predict Oscar winners when the race is still developing a clear slate of nominees, I keep coming back to the amount of sense it makes for Clint Eastwood to take the gold this year for his upcoming leading performance in “Gran Torino.”

Let’s look at the obvious factors first: competition. There is no agreed upon, media-charming performance going into the season that either has forged, or is expected to forge the kind of undeniable mass appeal that Jamie Foxx did in 2004, the last time Eastwood had a shot at an acting prize.

Of the contenders most anticipate to be in play, only Sean Penn’s portrayal of Harvey Milk has the on-paper swagger, while Leonardo DiCaprio (despite generating considerable heat — I’ve heard one person say “it’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen”) could spoil the party if he can push past the pretty boy image that fellow hopeful Brad Pitt will face.

Mickey Rourke is the odds-on favorite heading into November for a nomination, but despite the brilliance of the performance and the film, there is the sense that the nod will be the reward. An Indie Spirit Award is probably in the cards, and if so, promises to be the usual kiss of death.

Frank Langella, to round out my own predicted five, faces an uphill battle in gaining an Oscar to go along with his Tony for the same performance. Even with plenty of positive assessments, the potential to underwhelm is out there, in the open, and waiting to keep “Frost/Nixon” an also ran in multiple areas.

Benicio Del Toro could be a real threat if the film finds the traction necessary to move into serious play, but it probably won’t be the event that Eastwood’s efforts will be. And the only other performance that really shouts for attention is Josh Brolin’s work in “W,” a film that could be yesterday’s news sooner than later.

Then there is the chatter flying around that “Gran Torino” will be our last opportunity to see Eastwood perform on the screen, a swan song to his career as an actor. If so, what better way to cap off a hell of an autumn run than with a statue for his nearly six decades of achievements in front of the camera?

The film will be emotional, and given the particulars of the script, the portrayal is sure to prove heartbreaking. It could be the stiff upper lip of an awards season that finds itself competing with the election year, a note of hope and even a demand for sacrifice.

So I’ll just put it out there now: Clint Eastwood is going to win the Oscar for Best Actor come February. From where we sit right now, it just makes sense. But that’s the thing about “right now.” It changes.

We’ll see…

Have your say. Who do you predict to win the Oscar for Best Actor this year?

→ 29 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily · Featured

29 responses so far

  • 1 10-24-2008 at 7:21 am

    Shirley said...

    Hey, why not? Not having read the script, it sounds like it could go. I mean, if Million
    Dollar Baby got all that gold at the last minute, why not Gran Torino taking home Best Actor. Clint is well-respected and it’s the last award he hasn’t won yet. I doubt this will be the best performance of the year by a long shot but, well, when has that ever stopped the Academy.

  • 2 10-24-2008 at 7:23 am

    John Foote said...

    Count on it Kris — the man is beloved in the industry — was great in ‘White Hunter Black Geart”, brilliant in “Unforgiven” and though you have issues with ‘Million Dollar Baby” I loved the film and his superb work with Freeman and Swank — it coul;d be his year, if the film is good, it’s his. Rourke is doing well with the reviews but there are far too many people in the business who do not WANT this guy back, talk about burnt bridges…

  • 3 10-24-2008 at 8:06 am

    N8 said...

    If I had the guts to predict a winner at this early stage of the game, I would agree with you that Clint will take it…

    … IF I had the guts, which I don’t.

  • 4 10-24-2008 at 8:25 am

    Jamieson said...

    Of the films I’ve seen, I’m absolutely rooting for Mickey Rourke at this point and it would be well-deserved. However, there’s plenty of promising performances to come in November/December that I’m bound to love, and I could see Penn or Eastwood or perhaps Pitt being among them.

    God damn is Rourke outstanding in The Wrestler though. Seeing a guy I love commanding the screen in every scene again was thrilling.

  • 5 10-24-2008 at 8:34 am

    John Foote said...

    He is terrific in The Wrestler, no doubt, but the man burned more than a few bridges along the way — during the Toronto Film Festival I heard more than one industry person mention that Rourke was despised in the buisness for his blatantly terrible behavior and arrogance — yep, he’s contrite now, but sometimes a comeupannce holds no water with these people — clearly he bit the hand feeding him, and they are not so sure if they want to feed him again — that said his performance was something else wasn’t it?!

  • 6 10-24-2008 at 8:47 am

    Patrick said...

    Sean Penn.

  • 7 10-24-2008 at 8:55 am

    Jamie said...

    But: Benicio del Toro. I’m hoping the AFI slot brings Che some much-needed attention. IFC’s marketing has been somewhat anemic of late.

    Also: Kris I know you haven’t talked about Synecdoche at length, but do you think there’s any chance of Philip Seymour Hoffman making it into the Best Actor category? Manohla Dargis’s gave it a great review and there will be some Doubt goodwill.

    Love that poster, though.

  • 8 10-24-2008 at 9:20 am

    Cory Rivard said...

    I’ll be damned if that’s not the boldest thing I have ever read in reading Oscar predictions. Wouldn’t that be something if that panned out. Well done!

  • 9 10-24-2008 at 9:38 am

    Joshua said...

    I am so excited for this Best Actor race. :)

  • 10 10-24-2008 at 10:29 am

    Troy said...

    My guess is that it is going to be Pitt.

  • 11 10-24-2008 at 10:59 am

    LeAnn said...

    Having recently read the novel, I have high expectations for Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Frank Wheeler in “Revolutionary Road.” Many of his film performances have certainly been Oscar-worthy, and I hope this year the Academy honors him appropriately.

  • 12 10-24-2008 at 11:11 am

    Andrew L. said...

    An Eastwood win seems rather uninspired (or boring –a la Alan Arkin in 2007– considering how interesting and varied the Actor race is this year). It just feels like “Clint Eastwood being Clint Eastwood,” which is fine, but didn’t Jack Nicholson essentially do the same thing in The Departed?

    I think Benjamin Button has the potential to sweep. And if so, then a win for Brad Pitt doesn’t seem to unrealistic.

  • 13 10-24-2008 at 11:34 am

    JAB said...

    hmm… Leo. hands down. Eastwood get’s nominated though.

  • 14 10-24-2008 at 11:37 am

    Troy said...

    After watching the trailer, it does look like a Eastwood win will be very possible.

  • 15 10-24-2008 at 11:38 am

    Robert J. said...

    Scott Anderson may be the surprise winner as Richard III, which he also adapted and directed (assuming it will be released between now and December). The Academy has been kind to Shakespearean actors. Another possibility is John Malkovich in “Disgrace.”

  • 16 10-24-2008 at 11:51 am

    Casey said...

    i think brad pitt is being underestimated. even if he doesnt win i bet he’ll be nominated if button hits big… something tells me button will hit big

  • 17 10-24-2008 at 3:54 pm

    Osborne Cox said...

    Pitt will surprise.

  • 18 10-24-2008 at 4:47 pm

    Pam said...

    After seeing the preview, Clint’s acting looks kind of corny. I’m rooting for Leo all the way.

  • 19 10-24-2008 at 5:43 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I get the feeling we’re gonna see another double whammy Best Actor/Best Actress win going to the same picture. That picture? “Revolutionary Road.”

  • 20 10-24-2008 at 6:46 pm

    Patrick said...

    Enough already!

    Clint has directed some fine films in the last 20 years. There are many memorable characters in his filmography.

    I just don’t get all the aclaim he has received as an ACTOR. He has been giving the same, reliable performance for 40 years.

    I will keep an open mind until I see “Gran Torino,” but it will be quite a feat if it can even be mentioned in the same breath as Daniel Day-Lewis in “TWBB.”

  • 21 10-24-2008 at 8:18 pm

    Zac said...

    Seeing what happened in 2004, it wouldn’t surprise me if Clint gets nominated, but loses to someone whose performance is showier just like Jamie Foxx’s Ray was against Clint’s Frankie.

    I’ve all 5 of the nominated performances from 2004 and I still think Clint should have won. The other four had the fortune to draw upon a real life character whereas Clint had to make up a character himself. That’s not to say that a fictional performance should beat a non-fictional performance every time, but that year, Clint’s work, to me, was better than the others.

    I just hope Clint doesn’t announce that he’s done with acting after he gets nominated just to try to coerce Academy voters into giving him an Oscar, justified or not. I don’t think Clint would stoop to that level, but you never know.

  • 22 10-25-2008 at 4:26 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    You could well be right… it’s the kind of sentimental default choice that could emerge if the other contenders garner more praise than passion.

    Personally, I’d rather see it go elsewhere.

    As for it possibly being his last performance, wasn’t there similar chatter about Million Dollar Baby?

  • 23 10-25-2008 at 9:41 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    This is more of a roundup for Clint than M$B was. He announced his retirement then but found this to be more worth it. More a throwback to his old days than the more symbolic mentor-role.
    I think he can win and I would love it.

  • 24 10-25-2008 at 1:42 pm

    Patrick F. said...

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. The real test of this will be what happens with The Dark Knight. I think if they stick Ledger in Supporting (which is probably where he belongs), it’s a sure sign of how WB feels about Clint’s acting chances.

    When did playing a racist become Oscar Bait though? It didn’t do anything for Billy Bob Thorton, Peter Boyle, or Ryan Gosling?

    It doesn’t matter. These days I think Clint could win oscars for “Any Which Way But Loose” and a supporting oscar for the monkey. That’s how much they love him. I’m also going to suggest that Clint could end up winning additional Oscars for “Best Editing” “Best Supporting Actor” “Best Director” “Best Costume Design” “Best Sound Edting” “Best Sound Design”m Best Visual Design, “Best Original Score” and “Best Original Song.” before his long career is over. maybe Clint Eastwood will make an animated feature as well and so we can add that to his cache as well.

  • 25 10-25-2008 at 1:52 pm

    Patrick said...

    Exactly. I just don’t get all this attention he is getting.

    Maybe it is the closet conservative Hollywood bias.

  • 26 10-26-2008 at 3:01 am

    Joe said...

    The Academy loves and worships Clint Eastwood, a Hollywood legend, so it could realistically happen that he wins his first acting Oscar.

  • 27 10-26-2008 at 12:23 pm

    Tim said...

    It’s Leo’s year. He deserves it and there is some great buzz going for him. I still think it’s a travesty that Clint was nominated in 2004 over Paul Giamatti’s amazing work in Sideways.