Here are the nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture:
Richard Jenkins in ‘The Visitor’
Frank Langella in ‘Frost/Nixon’
Sean Penn in ‘Milk’
Brad Pitt in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Mickey Rourke in ‘The Wrestler’
What Could Happen: This is probably, probably a two man race. Sean Penn has won quite a few awards for his performance as Harvey Milk, and he’s won an Oscar in recent memory (Mystic River, probably my favorite Clint Eastwood film). In the other corner is Mickey Rourke, this year’s ‘feel good/comeback’ story, for his performance in The Wrestler. Another performance I enjoyed immensely by the way. The irony in this category though…
What Should Happen: is my favorite Lead Actor performance listed here is the one put in by Frank Langella playing Richard Nixon. Frost/Nixon wasn’t a film I was dying to see, but once I got into it, I was immediately drawn in by Langella’s performance. He’s already won a Tony for playing the same role, but that shouldn’t take away from how well he transitioned his performance from stage to screen.
Who I’m Cheering For: I’m sure I’m one of many who wouldn’t mind seeing a win from Penn, Langella, or Rourke. Penn proved (again) how he can disappear into a character and make it his own; Langella took one of the most unpopular Presidents in American history, and made him a sympathetic flawed human being; and Rourke famously drew from his own career missteps to portray a past his glory days legend trying to stay relevant in a young man’s game. If I have to choose among the three, I’ll roll with Penn. From the outside looking in, the character he played seems the least like ‘Sean Penn’ or the characters I normally associate with him (i.e. super machismo man’s man).