Oscar Moment: “Get Low”

11 05 2010

Out to top R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet,” Robert Duvall stars in the film adaptation of Lil’ Jon’s hit song “Get Low.”

Just kidding.

It’s about the opposite.  “Get Low” could wind up being one of the biggest bait movies of the Oscar season, particularly for leading man Robert Duvall.  It was a hit at last year’s Toronto Film Festival and instantly thrusted Duvall into the Oscar conversation.  But when it was bought by Sony Pictures Classics following the festival, they decided to move it to the end of July 2010.  Thus, Duvall and “Get Low” are now in the 2010 awards talk.

Here’s my question: does the man need Oscar bait?  He’s already won Best Actor!  Sure, it was over 25 years ago (1983 for “Tender Mercies” to be exact), but that’s still a trophy on the mantle at Duvall Manor.

People make this argument for Meryl Streep year after year.  “She won so long ago,” they say.  “They don’t need to hide their affection; just give her another Oscar!”

The difference between the two is as follows.  Since Robert Duvall won the Oscar, he has received two other nominations (in consecutive years, as a matter of fact).  Since Meryl Streep won her last Oscar, she has been nominated eleven times!  Eleven!

Let’s take a look at some other revered actors who took home their first Oscar several decades ago and the results when they are in the game again.

  • Ellen Burstyn won Best Actress in 1974 for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”  Since then, she has been nominated three times, most recently in 2000 for “Requiem for a Dream.”  She has not won since.
  • Sissy Spacek won Best Actress in 1980 for “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”  Since then, she has been nominated four times, most recently in 2001 for “In the Bedroom.”  She has not won since.
  • Diane Keaton won Best Actress in 1976 for “Annie Hall.”  Since then, she has been nominated three times, most recently in 2003 for “Something’s Gotta Give.”  She has not won since.
  • Ben Kingsley won Best Actor in 1982 for “Gandhi.”  Since then, he has been nominated three times, most recently in 2003 for “House of Sand and Fog.”  He has not won since.
  • William Hurt won Best Actor in 1985 for “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”  Since then, he has been nominated three times, most recently in 2005 for “A History of Violence.”  He has not won since.
  • Julie Christie won Best Actor in 1965 for “Darling.”  Since then, she has been nominated three times, most recently in 2007 for “Away from Her.”  She has not won since.

See a pattern?

(NOTE: I excluded one outlier from the list: Jack Nicholson, who has received 12 nominations in his illustrious career.  His first win came on his fifth nomination in 1975 for Best Actor for “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”  Two nominations later, he won again in 1983 for Best Supporting Actor for “Terms of Endearment.”  Another four nominations later, he won his third statue in 1997 for Best Actor for “As Good As It Gets.”  He was nominated for Best Actor again in 2002 for “About Schmidt” but lost to Adrien Brody.)

But if you know anything about the Oscars beyond the statistics I gave you, another trend might have popped out at you.  In case you didn’t pick up on it, this might guide you.

  • When Ellen Burstyn was last nominated, she lost to Julia Roberts for “Erin Brockovich.”  Roberts was 33, and this nomination was her third.
  • When Sissy Spacek was last nominated, she lost to Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball.”  Berry was 35, and this nomination was her first.
  • When Jack Nicholson was last nominated, he lost to Adrien Brody for “The Pianist.”  Brody was 29, and this nomination was his first.
  • When Diane Keaton was last nominated, she lost to Charlize Theron for “Monster.”  Theron was 28, and this nomination was her first.
  • When Ben Kingsley was last nominated, he lost to Sean Penn for “Mystic River.”  Penn was 43, and this nomination was his fourth.
  • When William Hurt was last nominated, he lost to George Clooney for “Syriana.”  Clooney was 43, and this nomination was his first.
  • When Julie Christie was last nominated, she lost to Marion Cotillard for “La Vie en Rose.”  Cotillard was 32, and this nomination was her first.

As I hope you now see, these veterans usually lose to younger actors with few nominations.  So does Duvall have history against him?

The role seems like a character he can really dig into.  In “Get Low,” he plays a hermit who plans his own funeral – which he plans to attend.  Alive.  He wants to hear what people think of him, but as events unfold, he ends up divulging why he’s been away in the woods so long.

The movie also features performances by Oscar winner Sissy Spacek and nominee Bill Murray.  Both could easily be in contention, but Murray seems to have the more substantial part.  They, along with Duvall, are definitely worth keeping an eye on this season.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Actor (Robert Duvall), Best Supporting Actor (Bill Murray)

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Score


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5 responses

11 05 2010
CMrok93

I don’t think Duvall will take anything home, but I know he may get nominated, and hopefully this film does a better job than what I think it may turn out to be.

14 05 2010
roisinaobrien

Can’t wait to see this film. Duvall and Bill Murray – A winning combination!

20 05 2010
Kevin Blumeyer

This movie’s worth is going to be judged by its ability to get that song out of my head when I hear its name.

He’s definitely one of the early frontrunners, though. I thought he deserved a nomination last year for “The Road.”

20 05 2010
Marshall

Sandra Bullock should pop out of the woods and dance/sing to it with Betty White! Then this movie would REALLY have everything!

In all seriousness, though, I have to say it’s hard for me to see him not getting at least nominated. Didn’t see “The Road,” but it’s hitting DVD next Tuesday. I’ll be sure to check it out even though I despised the book.

20 05 2010
Kevin Blumeyer

I loved the book. The movie is very faithful to it… so I assume that’s not a good sign for you?

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