Oscar Moment: “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

11 09 2010

You absolutely have to love Michael Douglas now.  The man is in the fight of his life against Stage 4 throat cancer, and he’s talking about it openly to millions of Americans on late night television.  Now that’s courage.

Here’s what doctors have to say about Douglas’ future:

Doctors say the therapy is grueling. Many patients develop painful mouth sores that require morphine-like narcotic pain relievers, says Robert Haddad, an oncologist with the head and neck cancer program at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Radiation also can burn the throat, which makes it painful to swallow. About half of patients require a feeding tube, says Haddad, who has no personal knowledge of Douglas’ case.

Despite the side effects, Haddad says, Douglas’ long-term quality of life “should be excellent.”

Although the treatment is tough, it can cure 50% to 80% of patients, depending on the location and other details of the tumor, he says.

Douglas appears optimistic, and everyone in America will certainly be cheering when he beats cancer.  But will the Academy be cheering with everyone?

Will an unintended side effect of Douglas’ treatment be an Oscar nomination?  While we are expecting him to make it through, recovery is not 100% certain.  Just think of how many Oscar nominations have been given to people that we have been afraid are going to leave us – Hal Halbrook, Ruby Dee, and Christopher Plummer, just to name a few.

Douglas also has two horses in the stable for an Oscar run this year: the critically acclaimed indie “Solitary Man” and the sequel to the 1987 movie that won him an Oscar, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”  Having a really good year is always a big plus for the Academy, who often like to reward several performances through one nomination.  Case in point: Kate Winslet in 2008 for “The Reader” but also for “Revolutionary Road” and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2006 for “Blood Diamond” but also for “The Departed.” (NOTE: One actor cannot receive two nominations in the same category.)

“Wall Street” represents his best chance seeing as “Solitary Man” was released by a very small company that can’t afford a big enough campaign.  Some have speculated that he will be in the Supporting Actor category for this effort, perhaps to run Shia LaBeouf for leading.  I can’t really see this happening; I think the most likely outcome will be a co-lead push for LaBeouf and Douglas.  He’s solid as always, early word says.  According to Variety‘s Justin Chang, “Older, grayer and perhaps a touch less snakelike, Douglas is still insinuatingly good, and his performance lays the groundwork for the film’s one spectacularly cynical twist.”  I’d say he has a great shot, and the somber spotlight (sadly) only helps.

A funny note, no one has ever won two competitive Oscars for the same role.  In 1946, Harold Russell, a World War II veteran, won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “The Best Years of Our Lives” and an honorary Oscar for inspiring hope.  And the role of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” saga has given Oscars to two actors, Marlon Brando in 1972 and Robert DeNiro in 1974.

As for the rest of the movie’s chances, it gets pretty spotty.  Here’s Guy Lodge of In Contention after seeing the premiere at Cannes back in May, offering what I see as a pretty accurate representation of feelings toward the movie from across the board:

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is one of the more pleasantly surprising studio pictures of the year thus far, and a significant improvement on its po-faced (and, 23 years on, now fearsomely dated) predecessor. If the sequel could never have been deemed “necessary,” it’s certainly as handily timed as can be. As the original served as dumb but not ineffective allegory for the coke-fuelled iniquities of 1980s capitalism, the new film not only does the same for credit-crunch sobriety in the post-2000s, but allows Stone his “Toldja!” moment to boot.

Oliver Stone has two Oscars for Best Director already, so I say there’s no chance that he even gets nominated.  Best Picture is not entirely out of the question, although I wonder if “The Social Network” will fill the movie of the moment quota.  I can see an outside possibility for Shia LaBeouf, but odds are he’s too young and people haven’t forgotten that he’s been in the “Indiana Jones” and “Transformers” series.

Everyone loves Carey Mulligan, and like Douglas, she has two performances in play this year (the other coming from this week’s release “Never Let Me Go”).  They are much more likely to recognize her for the other movie, but if reception for that is tepid, she could sneak into Best Supporting Actress.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Actor (Douglas)

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Mulligan)


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2 responses

12 09 2010
CMrok93

It looks good, and Douglas looks like what he could give the performance people want him to give, before he goes away. But let’s just hope that’s nto teh case.

14 09 2010
Fitz

I like Douglas and wish him well on his path to recovery, but the Lead Actor field is packed this year (Duvall, Firth, Franco, Wahlberg, Bridges, DiCaprio). I don’t see him getting in.

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