Oscar Moment: “Iron Man 2″

28 04 2010

In nine days, the summer movie season will officially kick off with the release of “Iron Man 2.”  It will most assuredly begin the very profitable period with a bang, potentially with the highest opening of all-time.  According to the Los Angeles Times, interest in the movie is very high ahead of the opening and polling has confirmed that people are indeed eagerly anticipating the release.  Whether or not it has what it takes to topple the record held by “The Dark Knight” is something no one can really predict.

“The Dark Knight” had many extraordinary circumstances in its favor.  The first “Iron Man” movie primed the pump for intelligent popcorn flicks by proving a surprise hit amongst fans and critics.  The rebooting of the Batman series with “Batman Begins” also gathered a large fan base, and people were excited for the follow-up.  But what arguably became the key factor in the success of “The Dark Knight” was the tragic death of Heath Ledger and a new layer of intrigue that was added to the movie as a result.  Rumor was that the drugs Ledger overdosed on were to help him get over the psychological distress of playing The Joker, and excitement to see his villainous turn quickly became some of the most intense anticipation in cinematic history.  People threw out casual suggestions about him being in contention for awards, and his death made an Oscar nomination a near certainty.  When the movie was released, Ledger’s win was sealed.

“Iron Man 2” features what could be another outstanding villainous role in Mickey Rourke taking on the part of Tony Stark’s foe, Whiplash.  After dealing with many substance abuse problems, Rourke triumphantly blazed back onto the Hollywood stage with “The Wrestler” in 2008, winning the Golden Globe and receiving an Oscar nomination.  His role in that movie led to a surge of interest in the actor, and the first role he took was in “Iron Man 2.”

But did Mickey Rourke lose all chances of being considered for Best Supporting Actor by being alive in the months leading up to the release of “Iron Man 2?”

It may be best to start by analyzing the category.

This is a category that LOVES villians – Christoph Waltz this year, Ledger, Javier Bardem in 2007, Tim Robbins in 2003.  It is also a category that likes to reward actors (usually veterans) who are overdue for a trophy – Alan Arkin in 2006, Morgan Freeman in 2004.  By these two characteristics, Rourke would appear to have a great shot.  He’s scary even whenever he’s not a villain, and he has a great deal of Academy support despite his loss two years ago to Sean Penn for Best Actor.

Judgement, however, cannot be based on the category alone.  It’s hardly a secret that the Oscars don’t like comic book movies.  They declined to nominate “The Dark Knight” for their highest prize despite being successful in every area and popular with every group in favor of “The Reader,” a movie that had lukewarm support from critics and fans.  Right out of the gate, Rourke and “Iron Man 2” have a massive strike against them.  It would take the movie out of the picture without the expanded field, no matter how much praise it was met with.  In my estimation, it will take a tremendous performance by Rourke to overcome this hurdle, one that I believe he is fully capable of delivering.  But if the movie tanks critically as sequels often do, it would be all but impossible for him to be nominated.

Then again, Heath Ledger overcame it.  We can never know how performance vs. politics played out or how things would have turned out had he been alive.  All politics aside, I believe Ledger gave one of the greatest performances that I have ever seen, and he deserved to win an Oscar for it dead or alive.  It was a total immersion, and if Rourke can pull off something similar, I see no reason for him not to be nominated or even win.  But awards can’t just be about the art; it’s a game where how you play matters just as much as how you act on screen.

I’m skeptical about Rourke’s chances, as you can tell.  We just have to remember that performances aren’t given and movies aren’t made to win awards; they are made to entertain and captivate an audience.  If Rourke blows us away with Whiplash, awards attention is just a bonus.  The real award comes from the creation of art that does more than serve its purpose.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing/Editing

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Supporting Actor (Mickey Rourke)


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4 responses

29 04 2010
CMrok93

I would love to see Mickey nominated once again, but I don’t know if it will be for this. He just looks like he’s hamming it up half of the time here.

29 04 2010
Marshall

I wanted to get this post out before the reviews started to come in – early ones have not been favorable. I don’t think it’s possible for him to garner any talk if the movie tanks. I don’t think Christoph Waltz could have won if he was in “Transformers 2.”

29 04 2010
Castor

I highly doubt that he would garner any type of support since this is a fluffy popcorn blockbuster. I also gather that he doesn’t much to do in the movie. We will see in a week 🙂

29 04 2010
Marshall

True that “Iron Man” was more of an audience appealing flick than “The Dark Knight,” but surprisingly enough, “Iron Man” actually scored better with the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The overall rating, however, had “The Dark Knight” rightfully on top.

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