Sean Penn wins critical trio, seems poised for Oscar

Posted by · 12:33 pm · January 4th, 2009

Sean Penn at the 76th Annual Academy AwardsThe Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Society of Film Critics and New York Film Critics Circle have agreed nine times on their choice for best actor of the year, including Sean Penn this year for his riveting work in “Milk.”  On five of those occasions, the gentleman has gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Robert De Niro was first for “Taxi Driver,” one of the great film performances which lost the Oscar to Peter Finch in “Network,” a posthumous award for the British actor.  Dustin Hoffman would win across the board three years later for “Kramer vs. Kramer.”  In 1981, Burt Lancaster won across the critical board for “Atlantic City,” but he lost the Oscar to sentimental favorite Henry Fonda in “On Golden Pond.”

British actor Bob Hoskins would nab all three critical awards for his decent mobster in “Mona Lisa” but had no chance against Paul Newman in “The Color of Money” come Oscar time.  Daniel Day-Lewis has twice won the critical hat trick with “My Left Foot” and last year for “There Will Be Blood,” making him the only double winner of the honors.

Nicolas Cage won all three critics prizes for his doomed drunkard in “Leaving Las Vegas,” no doubt edging out Sean Penn in “Dead Man Walking.”  And for his seething work as Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” acting great Forest Whitaker won with the critics and with Oscar.

Sean Penn seems poised to take the golden guy one more time…




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22 responses so far

  • 1 1-04-2009 at 12:35 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Funny that you mention sentiment as it pertains to Henry Fonda and indirectly as it pertains to Paul Newman. Two actors who never won the acting honor, a gong consistently banged on the way up to Oscar night…hmmm.

    If anyone can stop Penn, it’s obviously Clint Eastwood and Mickey Rourke, two sentimental votes for different reasons. So poised, maybe. But the Academy has options this year and, as your research shows, when they have options, they’ll take them.

  • 2 1-04-2009 at 12:36 pm

    The Z said...

    Not to nitpick, but Finch was Australian – English-born, but Australian.

    And Mr. Hoskins was robbed. Sometimes it’s a shame that the Academy feels it needs to make up to performers. But at least Paul Newman did get an Oscar – even if it was for the wrong film.

  • 3 1-04-2009 at 12:38 pm

    Casey F. said...

    Loved Penn’s work and wont at all be upset if he wins but I must say I’m rooting for Mickey Rourke. Shocked he didn’t pick up a single major critics prize by the way. I just feel like in a few years i think the Rourke performance is gonna be the one that was just unforgettable…

    side comment: Whitaker’s performance was so overrated

  • 4 1-04-2009 at 1:14 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I’m still not sure who’s gonna win here. Lot of it depends on wether Clint gets his nod or not. Somehow I don’t like the idea of Penn winning, if only for him to make more political statements and simply be emotional and thankful.

  • 5 1-04-2009 at 1:14 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yeah, I must say I’m perplexed that Rourke hasn’t done better in the critics’ awards — I assumed it was there that he would really clean up.

    No slight meant to Penn, who is wonderful in “Milk,” but Rourke’s performance just might be historic. I’m a little disappointed at how things have panned out.

  • 6 1-04-2009 at 3:01 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    I think the Rourke sentiment will be too much to overcome, at least I hope so. I can also see The Wrestler being something of a minor hit when it goes wide. But ultimately Rourke deserves it more, but then, ‘deserves got nothing to do with it”.

  • 7 1-04-2009 at 3:52 pm

    Patrick said...

    Don’t think the academy will feel the need to honor Eastwood or Rourke (the nomination will be his prize). Penn looks like the favorite at this point, deservingly so.

  • 8 1-04-2009 at 5:26 pm

    Glenn said...

    But Mickey Rourke isn’t exactly Julia Roberts. There’s no “isn’t it time?!” nonsense for him.

  • 9 1-04-2009 at 5:45 pm

    JoeBO said...

    I’d put money on Penn winning. Rourke’s ‘win’ will be his nomination…as they often do.

    Penn was absolutely great, and, besides Rourke, there’s really no one there for the win. I’d say Penn and Ledger are two of the safest choices for the night.

  • 10 1-04-2009 at 6:01 pm

    Ju said...

    Americans can’t stand Sean Penn’s political statements, so they criticize him. I thought Oscar was meant to reward performances and not ideas and statements. His performance was great. A great, great actor.

  • 11 1-04-2009 at 6:02 pm

    Casey F. said...

    Glenn you’re right, Rourke isn’t Julia Roberts… he’s talented and has given more than 1 good performance in his life

  • 12 1-04-2009 at 6:40 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    I’m pulling for Rourke. I’m tired of the Oscar going to leads in bio-pics. Time to give the Golden Boy to one who truly sculpts a character from the ground up.

  • 13 1-04-2009 at 7:40 pm

    Alejo said...

    Guy,
    I agree. It would be nice to see Rourke win. If it’s any consolation, he actually won some critics awards…San Diego, Chicago, Oklahoma, Florida, Kansas, tied at San Francisco (with Penn) and a few others. Granted, his wins may not be NBR/NY/LA Film critics, but they’re still wins.

    I think Penn will win, but it would be nice to see Rourke win. But then again, as BurmaShave noted…

    There should be an online movement supporting Rourke for best actor!

  • 14 1-05-2009 at 2:02 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    So who do you guys concider to be the biggest ‘outsider’ for a nod at this time? Jenkins or Del Toro?

  • 15 1-05-2009 at 2:25 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Well, Del Toro doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting nominated.

    Jenkins, I think, is still in a pretty good position… I’m betting he’ll make the cut.

  • 16 1-05-2009 at 5:48 am

    Adam G. said...

    Mickey Rourke is, by far, the more deserving of the two.

    Milk, as a movie, was wholly unimpressive- a conventional, by-the-numbers biopic that failed to develop its chief antagonist (the reason, according to writer Dustin Lance Black in a recent interview, being that Dan White was “not that interesting”), which made the scene at the end in which (spoiler?) he kills Harvey and the mayor seem unjustified, and lacking in impact.

    Sean Penn did well with the material, but I wouldn’t bother to nominate him. I’m sure we can find five actors who did something more than convincingly play gay without making the role into a caricature.

  • 17 1-05-2009 at 7:02 am

    John Foote said...

    But folks, again, read the article — when a deserving actor faces a sentimental choice, which Eastwood will clearly be if nominated, Penn, nor Rourke will win, it’ll go to Clint. His performance is wonderful but in my humble not the best of the year, as Penn accomplishes that with “Milk” — Adam G. are you serious??? A conventional bio??

  • 18 1-05-2009 at 7:11 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I gotta say, John, I thought “Milk” was pretty conventional. Not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s a solid, compelling film, but nothing about it surprised me in any way. I guess I was hoping for slightly more stylistic or structural eccentricity from Van Sant.

    No faulting the performances, of course.

  • 19 1-05-2009 at 12:43 pm

    GordonsGirl said...

    I’ve yet to see Rourke’s performance – only trailers – and do not doubt its power. Still, it may unfairly bear the taint of being too true to his own life.

    Penn, on the other hand, purely astonished me. I was a young woman in the SF Bay Area during that horrible fortnight – first, Jonestown; then the double assassination. The grief was profound. Harvey Milk truly was a ray of light, even to we straights. Much to my surprise, Penn impeccably caught his essence. I’d never seen the actor so radiant since he blessed us with Jeff Spicoli. Even more importantly, close friends of mine – veterans of that same fight who were more than a little skeptical of Penn’s casting – say his performance is spot-freakin’-on.

  • 20 1-05-2009 at 12:49 pm

    Chad said...

    someone who thinks playing a role close to your own life is easier than any other role has no concept of what acting is.

  • 21 1-05-2009 at 9:28 pm

    Glenn said...

    That picture reminds me of how handsome Sean Penn can be sometimes. Hmmm…

  • 22 1-06-2009 at 3:07 am

    Ross said...

    You forget somebody.
    In 2003 Bill Murray won the NYFCC, LAFCA and NSFC (for LOST IN TRANSLATION) as well as the Globe and the BAFTA and still lost the Oscar to …. overdue Sean Penn.

    I think Penn may win the Globe, but he won’t win the Oscar. I don’t think there’s enough love for him in Hollywood right now and come on, the performance was solid, but unremarkable.