Pulling for you, Gary

Posted by · 10:27 am · February 8th, 2012

Gary Oldman is back in town and hitting the press rounds hard on behalf of his first-ever Oscar nomination for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” And though I’m fairly resigned to Jean Dujardin turning the trick with Oscar as he did with SAG, I can’t help but wonder — or perhaps merely hope — if things are in such a state of flux within the Best Actor category that a guy like Oldman has a decent shot.

Roth’s piece on Brad Pitt’s press rounds and a window of opportunity in the field was fair enough as it pertains to his chances. After all, Pitt’s a big-time celebrity who doesn’t rest on his laurels and is heavily involved, constructively, on the production side of things. And he turned out one of his best performances to date in “Moneyball.”

But what about a guy like Oldman, who has worked with just about everyone in town and has been at the grind for decades? Not only is he a solid worker, but he offers up stunning portrayal after stunning portrayal, even in the most dubious of projects (many of which he’s been forced to take on over the last 10 years or so).

The BAFTA Awards on Sunday will be an interesting test for Oldman. (Guy will be live-blogging, FYI.) It’s the only pre-Oscar awards show, I believe, that will see him pitted against Dujardin and George Clooney, the perceived frontrunners of the category. Given the showing “Tinker” had in the nominations, I expect him to win, but if Dujardin triumphs, well, it’s not even worth discussing in hypotheticals anymore at that point.

Greg Ellwood sat down with the freshly minted nominee recently to get his take on finally hitting that echelon he probably should have been on multiple times over by now. And like many, leading into the morning of January 24, he wasn’t feeling particularly hopeful. “If you were to take the temperature with the Golden Globes and SAG, I wasn’t banking on it,” he says in the interview. Thankfully he’s in there and he has a fighting chance.

Meanwhile, Oldman is turning up in a few key spots during phase two. He was on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week and will pop up on “The Today Show” tomorrow morning. He also has a Charlie Rose appearance coming up (which will be delightful). He did plenty of poolside interviews at the Nominees Luncheon on Monday, as well, which is a good way to hit a few outlets at once this time of year.

I spoke to Oldman back around the occasion of the film’s US release back in December and it remains one of my favorite interviews of the season. He’s such a nice guy, really thoughtful in his answers and with a refreshing sense of humor. That kind of charm can go a long way this time of year. I particularly loved his perspective on finally settling into a rather inwardly-performed character after making a career on more colorful portrayals:

“When you”re asked to come in and you’ve got to burn from the first bar, it”s like rock and roll,” he said at the time. “You’ve got to hit a frequency in a performance. And it may be violent, it may be emotional, it may be both. It may be tears. It could be many things. I always felt that as exciting as it was, there was a bit of a black cloud over me. You”d get there in the morning and it was like standing at the foot of a mountain looking at the peak and thinking, ‘Oh God, I”ve got to get there today, and when I call on it, will I have the resource? Is the well going to be dry or am I going to climb the mountain?’

“With Smiley, a lot of that sort of emotional work, in a way, was done in the privacy of my own home. It”s sort of done in my kitchen, me in a communion with the novel. And so it was a relief to know that it was other people that were bouncing off the wall and that I could come in and put my suit on and sit in a chair and listen. It was a great relief to be able to do that. There’s a continuity to it. And it”s those other guys that have to kind of come in and win the race, you know? Like I said, it”s like jazz. You just find that you ease into the solo and these other guys can start to come in and rock and roll.”

I’d love to think that now that Oscar voters finally have an opportunity to check off his name on a ballot, they finally will. But it’s tough to overcome the trajectory of the season when it’s been somewhat set.

Still, I’m pulling for him. It really was my favorite nomination of the year.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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