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Oscars 2012: Best Lead Actor

The Academy Awards are Sunday, so it's time for the annual predictions from the revered GonzoGeek panel: Bruce, Chris, John, Matt, Stephe and Matt’s copy of “Wrestlemania 2000” for the Nintendo 64.

Today: Best Lead Actor

The Nominees: 
Demián Bichir, A Better Life (50/1)
George Clooney, The Descendants (11/10)
Jean Dujardin, The Artist (5/6)
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (20/1)
Brad Pitt, Moneyball (10/1)

Odds provided by Bovada (formerly Bodog).


WINNER: George Clooney
We should all hate George Clooney. He’s handsome, rich, famous and dating Stacie Keibler. And yet its nearly impossible to root against the guy. He understands the fickle nature of fame. He paid his dues. He’s a humanitarian. Dammit George, don’t be so damned…Danny Ocean. All that being said, I actually quite enjoyed “The Descendants.” Clooney’s performance was subtle and low key. Watching his character trying to piece his life back together made for a good movie-going experience. He let the actors around him have the big moments while he held the center together. That’s the sign of a great performance.

In a Perfect World: Brad Pitt’s tremendous turn as Billy Beane would find the votes to moneyball


WINNER: Demian Bichir
Were I to follow the same reasoning I have for the first two categories, this award would go to Demian Bichir in a walk. It is the riveting, heart-tugging performance of the bunch. But Gary Oldman has an impressive body of work, did a great job in his movie, and is a first-time nominee. I worry about a ‘lifetime achievement’ groundswell carrying him across the finish line. But that sort of thing usually only happens to multiple former nominees, not just people who have been good actors forever. OK, I’ve talked myself into it: Bichir wins! But while we’re at it, George Clooney is an iffy nominee at best this time around. He’s done way better, and uses a number of stock head motions and facial expressions here. Trust me. I’ve seen ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ more times than I will ever admit publicly.

In a Perfect World: Oldman and Brad Pitt would fuse into one super-actor, instantly getting any role they desire and winning the leading-man category every year.


WINNER: Jean Dujardin
A real toss-up here. Does the Academy go with the trendy arthouse picture that the average viewer watching at home has never heard of (Dujardin in The Artist) or the long-standing well-liked Hollywood star (George Clooney in The Descendents)? I'll go with Dujardin only because I think the award will mean more to him. I think that, wherever he's gone in the creative netherworld, The Flying Frenchie will celebrate this award.

In a Perfect World: Ryan Gosling would have been nominated.


WINNER: George Clooney
I may be misidentifying poetry where it doesn't exist (that's a REALLY nice way of saying "I may be writing for a blog..."), but I like that this battle comes down to Dujardin, playing a movie star from a bygone era, and Clooney, who seems like one of the last true movie stars we have left. There are other big stars and moneymakers in the world, but few exhude the same calm class and control. We only see George once or twice a year - either onscreen or giving that smile of bored warmth on the red carpet for shows like this. Meanwhile, in between franchises (Ocean's _) and comedies (Burn After Reading) and action roles (The American), Clooney has turned in a trio of acting performances -- Michael Clayton, Up In The Air and now The Descendants -- that say more about him than anything we can learn from a TMZ report. Each time, a single man struggles to juggle personal complications with his professional life and has to make difficult choices about who he is and what he believes in. Life always goes on, but The Descendants ends with a (non-spoilery) wrinkle the previous two had: our hero is not alone. He's great in this movie and he deserves a statue. I'd like to see him get it for this role, as a father struggling to keep all the plates in his life spinning, rather than one of the suave, Clooney-esque figures we've seen before.

In A Perfect World: We shave off a few Best Picture nominees and give some wiggle room to a slate like this, where all five nominees turned in great performances but an equally-deserving guy like Ryan Gosling also gets recognition..


WINNER: George Clooney
Wow. First Jonah Hill, now Brad Pitt for ‘Moneyball’. Does Hollywood know that’s a movie about sports? Most of my picks are based upon what amuses me the most, so I usually go 0-5 in these things. I think I get this one right.

In a Perfect World: Still Clooney, but we’re treated to a ‘Facts of Life’ retrospective as George accepts his Oscar.

Wrestlemania 2000 *

WINNER: Jean Dujardin
Demian Bichir, despite being The President of Mexico or whatever the hell Weeds cast him as, has the longest odds, so he's out.

George Clooney, the beloved veteran who will always be the most popular guy in the room - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Jean Dujardin, the exciting fresh face with a decidedly old-school approach - Chris Jericho
Gary Oldman, Mr. Personality (sarcasm) - Steve Blackman
Brad Pitt, Captain Charisma (not sarcasm) - Christian

Gary Oldman don't play, ya'll. As soon as the bell rings he puts the HURT on Clooney, taking a handful of that salt-and-pepper hair and dragging him from pillar to post to teach some lessons about subtle emotion (anyone who has seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy knows that the key is that people shouldn't know if you are awake or listening during a scene). Clooney, the favorite by a long shot between the two, barely gets any offense in while Professor Oldman's class is in session. Finally, Gary O finishes George off with a nondescript kick, a fitting end at 4:47. Huge shocker.

Aside for wrestling fans: I've been watching polygons smash against each other in this game every year since, well, 2000, and I have NEVER seen Austin get his ass handed to him like this. And by Steve Blackman?! My worldview has changed. I don't know what to believe anymore. 

The remaining three actors mix it up for several minutes, changing allegiances as it suits them. Ultimately Brad Pitt takes the brunt of the punishment, probably because Oldman still has some Clooney-stompin' stank left in him and no one to take it out on. After a lot of brawling, Dujardin and Oldman break Pitt down with some double team tactics and eliminate him at 10:23. From there it's down to Oldman and Dujardin, and ya'll remember that thing I said about how Gary Oldman don't play? He and Dujardin go for another seven and a half minutes. Dujardin spend most of the previous 10 minutes of the match preening and showing off, so he is completely fresh. Oldman, meanwhile, is still scraping George Clooney's pride off the soles of his boots. He's been doing work out here. Nevermind that, because every time Dujardin looks to put Oldman away, he just keeps coming. The man is like some kind of zombie (maybe I should have picked The Undertaker?). Two-count after two-count for Dujardin despite all the punishment. Finally, Oldman's inhuman run slows down, and the star of The Artist locks in his patented "Silent Treatment" submission hold. Gary Oldman is an old-ass man, so he's got few options besides giving this one up at 18:01. An instant classic. One for the ages.

* Wrestlemania 2000 picks the Oscars by (1) eliminating the nominee with the longest odds, (2) matching up the remaining four with a character from WM2K’s extensive circa-1997 WWF roster and (3) Staging a CPU-generated four-man elimination match where the last man standing is the Oscar winner. No wrestlers are repeated during the contest.

Posted in: Movies