Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Campaign for Robert Downey Jr. to get an Oscar Nomination

It has been the year of Robert Downey Jr. He has recently been named Entertainer of the Year by Entertainment Weekly. He was one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World this year. His Tony Stark and his contribution to its script and improvisational input breathed refreshing life, presence and humor into the superhero genre. Then he appeared in Tropic Thunder. This is a performance that had been anticipated for nearly a year with many expecting controversy over the nature of the role and outcry from many. When the film came out, people decided to focus (ridiculously) on the seemingly offensive nature of the concept of "Simple Jack" and there was a ton of news about people boycotting and protesting the premiere and other such events. But the controversy that had been built up surrounding Robert's performance was barely even talked about. His performance got raves. Absolute raves. Everyone was talking about the performance but nobody was offended. Why is this? How does a performance surrounded by controversy for months before its release die down after the film is shown to the public? It's because he's so damn good in it. He makes it work. Ben Stiller himself said "I got to direct Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, and he took on a role that few would have had the courage to tackle and, I am now convinced, none could have played except him." This is true. Others could have played Kirk Lazarus a.k.a Osiris. Could anyone else have pulled it off? I don't think so actually.

A lot of this has to do with the way the part is written. Robert Downey Jr's character satirizes Method actors, actors taking themselves too seriously and the very present racial stereotyping still existent in film. Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen (not Ethan Coen) created these intentions within the script. But Downey Jr. brought it to life in a way that exemplifies the points that the writers are trying to make with his character. It also works on another level because Robert Downey Jr. is essentially making fun of himself. He basically is a Method actor (he stayed in character during the shoot). On top of it all, let's not forget that he is playing an actor playing an actor playing a character. The actor he plays is Australian Method Actor Kirk Lazarus. Someone whose Method acting techniques have prevented him from knowing who Kirk really is. He has to play this as well. When Alpa Chino (genius) and Speedman point out to him the absurdities of what he is doing, a hint, a slight hint of Kirk shows through. It's barely visible, the camera does not point it out but it is there. And on top of all of this he has to be funny. And holy shit he is funny. It goes without saying that he steals this movie. His speech, his facial expressions, his mannerisms are all spot on and his line deliveries are some of the best I've seen in years.

So in a year where Heath Ledger will undoubtedly win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (even though I'm already rooting for Downey, but I obviously won't be upset when Heath gets it) can it really hurt to just nominate Robert Downey Jr.? If his performance is not enough to do it can't his comeback push him into a nomination? In a year when his performance in Tropic Thunder can garner some of the best performance reviews of any this year, I don't think it is asking much for him to get in. The notices and praise he has recieved has been equal to any performance this year.

Between the universal acclaim for the performance, the positive critical reception of the film, his comeback, how impossible of a performance it is to pull off, how many layers the performance has to work on and it being the funniest performance of the year, how is this not a lock? I agree that a comedic performance is hard to nominate. Not many should be. There are so many comedic performances that I think are hilarious that should never in a million years be nominated for an Oscar. But this one should. Some people seem to think Tropic Thunder is just one of those movies. It may come off that way. Although it's not perfect people seem to forget that the reviews it got were better than the vast majority of films that came out this year. Peopel who understand the film industry get what the film is doing with that and the other levels that it works on beyond the basic comedic level. "Tropic Thunder" does something more unique than most comedies. And Robert Downey Jr.'s performance is a big part of that. Therefore, just nominate him. The Oscars are a joke anyways so at least nominate something that deserves it and shows you are going out on a limb to recognize unconventional performances.

Here's a link that can explain this better than I can.


kendra said...

I totally agree. Robert Downey Jr was freaking amazing in Tropic Thunder. I can't imagine any other actor in that role and playing it half as well. He should at the very least be nominated.

I actually think Tropic Thunder was one of the best films this year. It is in that comedy genre that doesn't get the same kind of respect as dramas, but it was done well. It succeeded in being entertaining and fun.

Catherine said...

I completely agree with you. I definitely don't think it's a perfect movie but what it does accomplish is really impressive and it's my personal favorite so far this year. I basically laughed throughout the entire movie and I also caught a lot more seeing it a second time which tells me that it's one of those movies that I will catch something different every time I watch it. And if Robert Downey Jr. did not pull it off then the movie would not have worked. I just hope he gets some recognition and that people can appreciate the difficulty his role required.