Monday, Feb. 16, 2009

Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Least fascinating bit of Oscar trivia ever: For the first time in the history of the Academy Awards, all five nominees for Best Actor play the title characters of their films. And for a change, they're all nifty performances. I'd argue that Pitt's job was the most demanding — because of what he wasn't called on to do. He had no scenes where he could throw a majestic fit (Langella), or petition for human rights (Jenkins, Penn). And though a lot of his acting was done with his face FX'd on someone else's body, he didn't have the opportunity to torture his physique, Mickey Rourke-style. Given these restrictions, Pitt gave a performance that emphasized acute observation of life flying past Benjamin (but in a different direction), while radiating a benign, almost passive star quality of the old school. If he were to win, which would be nice, but he won't, it would be Oscar's first acknowledgment of this very specialized form of Hollywood acting since Bing Crosby got the nod for Going My Way in 1945. Odds of winning: 30 to 1