2015 Oscars, Interlude: Acting vs. Imitation Games
|One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn't the same.|
Michael Keaton is the only one who played a fictional character.
You've got John DuPont, Chris Kyle, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking... and Riggan Thomson.
But it doesn't stop there. If you take a look at the Best Actress nominees, Felicity Jones and Reese Witherspoon are both nominated for portraying real people. And on the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress side of things, Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and Laura Dern are all up for portrayals of real people. That means that, out of the 20 nominated actors, 9 of them were portraying real people. And the number jumps to 11 when you consider the controversy over whether or not David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo deserved nominations for their turns as Dr. and Mrs. King in Selma. This brings me to a question, dear readers, something my girlfriend and I talked about while watching the aforementioned Selma (where, by the by, I decided the controversy over that flick's lack of acting nominations is nonsense; yes, the cast was good, but they weren't as good as the people who were nominated, it's as simple as that), and the question is:
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but is it the same as acting?
Now obviously, imitation is a form of acting, if only just by the definition of acting. And I'm not trying to jump on anybody or put anybody down here. I'm just wondering if, for example, the way Eddie Redmayne studied and basically copied Stephen Hawking for his performance is the same as the way Michael Keaton had to create and bring his character to life basically out of whole cloth. Is one thing easier than the other? I mean, I learned from experience in a couple of high school plays that I can't act. But I can imitate Christopher Walken when the mood strikes. Could I do it for a whole movie and play him in a biopic? Probably not, but the point stands.
If I even have a point, that is.
But if acting and imitating are different things, should they be up for the same award? I mean, it seems to me it takes at least a bit of a different skill set to sort of breathe life into a character as opposed to becoming someone who already exists. Or does it, perhaps, depend on the story? Going back to Eddie Redmayne, for example, is the way he basically had to act with his eyes and face, emote the way Hawking does, different than the way way David Oyelowo basically just copied MLK's speechifying tones and posture? Is that why Oyelowo wasn't nominated while the other "copycats" were (or was it because the other movies were 100% about the characters the actors portrayed, whereas Selma was about a situation the character took part in)?
And wouldn't it be interesting if the Oscar went to Michael Keaton, the only original character in that particular bunch?
I don't know what I'm going for here, folks. I don't particularly have a point, and like I said, I'm not putting anyone down; they're all talented actors who put in great performances. But I just feel like there's something to this, aside from the fact that the Academy is a bunch of suckers for true stories.
Anybody else have any thoughts on the subject they'd like to share?