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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Does Real Person Equal Oscar?

After Sean Penn's win the other night, it got me thinking how much does the Academy favor actors portraying real people? I found this list to be surprising. It's actually somewhat even for the leads in the last twenty years. As for supporting, it's not very common at all for actors portraying real people. I think this more has to do with the fact that many biopics have strong leads that get most of the awards heat. I didn't include nominations, but fictional characters still have the edge by a fairly large margin.

It is much more lopsided this decade towards real people. Why? Don't really have the answer, but 6/9 for Best Actress and 5/9 for Best Actor. I wrote this a week or so ago, but I don't really think that one is easier to portray than the other. Both real and fictional characters have their respective challenges. Part of me wishes I took an acting class when I was in film school, so I could add more to this argument. For now, here's the list I compiled.

Best Actor - 8/20
2008 - Sean Penn, Milk (Harvey Milk)
2006 - Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland (Idi Amin)
2005 - Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote (Truman Capote)
2004 - Jamie Foxx, Ray (Ray Charles)
2002 - Adrien Brody, The Pianist (Wladyslaw Szpilman)
1996 - Geoffrey Rush, Shine (David Helfgott)
1990 - Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune (Claus von Bulow)
1989 - Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot (Christy Brown)

Best Actress - 8/20
2007 - Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf)
2006 - Helen Mirren, The Queen (Queen Elizabeth II)
2005 - Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line (June Carter)
2003 - Charlize Theron, Monster (Aileen Wuornos)
2002 - Nicole Kidman, The Hours (Virginia Woolf)
2000 - Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich (Erin Brockovich)
1999 - Hilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry (Brandon Teena)
1995 - Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking (Sister Helen Prejean)

Best Supporting Actor - 3/20
2002 - Chris Cooper, Adaptation (John Laroche)
2001 - Jim Broadbent, Iris (John Bayley)
1994 - Martin Landau, Ed Wood (Bela Lugosi)

Best Supporting Actress - 4/20
2004 - Cate Blanchett, The Aviator (Katharine Hepburn)
2000 - Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock (Lee Krasner)
1998 - Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love (Queen Elizabeth)
1989 - Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot (Mrs. Brown)

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