Why ‘Lebowski’ will win Bridges the Oscar

Posted by · 4:40 am · March 7th, 2010

Jeff Bridges in The Big LebowskiSpot quiz: how many award mentions did Jeff Bridges receive for his inspired comic turn in “The Big Lebowski” 11 years ago?

If you guessed anything other than a single Satellite Award nod for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, you’d be wrong. (That’s right, even the Golden Globes preferred Robin Williams in “Patch Adams” to The Dude.) Today, however, it ranks as possibly the most beloved creation in a beloved actor’s career, the character’s nickname having become Bridges’ own in a few short years.

In a nice EW piece, Owen Gleiberman explains why that performance was never going to catch the Academy’s eye — yet at the same time, is partly responsible for his all-but-inevitable win for “Crazy Heart” tonight. Likening the scenario to disguised career-achievement Oscars for Al Pacino or Kate Winslet (or, more contentiously, Sandra Bullock), Gleiberman nonetheless thinks it’s this one 1998 performance that seals the deal for him.

Gleiberman writes:

Bridges’ shambling, engagingly disheveled, white-Russian-in-his-mustache stoner clowning around as The Dude has, in the 12 years since the movie came out, become one of the most celebrated and iconic performances of its time — but no way in hell is it an Oscar performance, and that’s part of the appealing slovenly mystique of it. Yet the Dude, in his Zen ’70s-relic way, now looms majestically large in Bridges’ legend. The performance is revered by a generation of DVD couch potatoes who have probably never even seen Bridges in The Last Picture Show or Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) or Cutter’s Way (1981) or The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989). What’s relevant, at least in Hollywood, is that this generation now includes a number of Academy voters. For them, Bridges’ work in The Big Lebowski isn’t just a “cult” jape — it’s as canonical, in its way, as Paul Newman’s Oscar run-up performance was in The Verdict (1982).

More here. And if you missed it, check out Kris’s list of the actor’s 10 best performances.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 3-07-2010 at 9:29 am

    David said...

    The Dude abides.

  • 2 3-07-2010 at 9:37 am

    Harry said...

    It must be, because if someone were to sit in a room and watch all 5 nominees, there is no way that Jeremy renner or george clooney would not rise to the top.

  • 3 3-07-2010 at 10:18 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    I would not exactly call that a career achievement award for Winslet. She is still young first of all. Secondly she was pretty damn good in The Reader and even better in Revolutionary Road.

    Seriously if Kate is winning a career achievement Oscar at 34 years old then she must be the GOAT. I think she will end up with more nominations and wins than Meryl when all is said and done.

  • 4 3-07-2010 at 10:56 am

    Casey Fiore said...

    the dude is one of my top 3 performances of the 90s. just insanely live in.

    Harry there is in fact a way that those people in that room would choose a contender other than Renner or Clooney… maybe if they liked the other performances better

  • 5 3-07-2010 at 12:41 pm

    Zac said...

    If The Dude wins tonight, I hope that The Big Lebowski is announced for Blu-ray soon. I sold my original DVD copy in anticipation of getting the 10th anniversary edition, but never got that, so my shelf is Dude-less at the moment.

    Yea, well,you know, that’s like your opinion, man.

  • 6 3-07-2010 at 2:21 pm

    Fitz said...

    How is The Dude not an Oscar-level performance?

  • 7 3-08-2010 at 8:17 am

    austin111 said...

    Yeah, I know people who have every single line of dialogue memorized from Lebowski. If the Dude is Bridges greatest creation, then the movie is certainly pretty close to the top of the Coen’s best work as well.