Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Oscar Night, Brits Will Battle for Best Actor; as Disabled Astrophysicist, Eddie Redmayne Will Claim the Oscar for Best Actor; THE OSCARS: ACTOR

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Oscar Night, Brits Will Battle for Best Actor; as Disabled Astrophysicist, Eddie Redmayne Will Claim the Oscar for Best Actor; THE OSCARS: ACTOR

Article excerpt

There's a good reason why the best actor category is saved for late in the Academy Awards telecast. Hollywood is a male-dominated industry, and the lead actor in a feature film is usually a bigger name than his female co-star or even the director.

Film acting is a peculiar craft. Except for someone like Daniel Day-Lewis (who required everyone from Steven Spielberg to the on- set caterer to call him "Mr. Lincoln"), most actors perform in short bursts, which are edited together to create an illusion of linear consistency.

The most linear performance among this year's nominees is by Michael Keaton as a washed-up movie superhero in "Birdman." That's because the movie was filmed in long takes without visible edits. This approach by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu adds weight to the shoulders of the actors, most of whom are playing actors in a misbegotten stageplay. If you study the Ed Norton character on and off the stage, you can clearly see the difference between stage and screen acting. But Keaton, who starred in two "Batman" movies, is essentially playing a damaged version of himself, so there's not enough obvious make-believe to impress the Oscar voters.

If you want to see an actor disappear into a role, look at Steve Carell in "Foxcatcher." With a prosthetic nose and halting voice, his version of a wrestling-obsessed billionaire barely resembles the quick-witted improv comedian we know from "The Daily Show." The movie itself was snubbed even worse than "Selma" "Foxcatcher" is nominated for best actor, best supporting actor, best original screenplay and best director yet somehow is not one of the eight nominees for best picture so Carell has zero chance of winning. But maybe this detour into prestige filmmaking will keep him from doing a third "Anchorman" movie.

Bradley Cooper also underwent a makeover, adding 40 pounds of bulk for "American Sniper." (Compare him to Jake Gyllenhaal, who lost 30 pounds for his regrettably un-nominated performance in "Nightcrawler".) With Oscar nominations in three straight years, Cooper has entered the top rank of American actors. He is even starring in a new Broadway production of "The Elephant Man" without prosthetic makeup. Cooper's solid, sympathetic performance as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has helped make the flag-waving "American Sniper" the highest grossing war film ever. …

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