Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Posthumous Oscar for Ledger?

Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight was outstanding. There are even rumors that he might be considered for a posthumous Oscar. I think that would be terrific, of course, but not without mixed feelings.

The year Ledger was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Brokeback Mountain, I heard from reliable opinions that Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance in Capote that year (which I didn't see) happened to top his. I could accept that.

But for the Academy to award Best Picture to Crash instead of Brokeback Mountain was, to my mind, pure cowardice. The Academy nominated the Brokeback cast for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress, and didn't give the award to any of the three. That must mean that, given that the collective performance of the cast was so exceptional, by the Academy's own admission, not the mention the obvious impact the film was making among the general public and the social relevance of the issues being raised, it all points to a best picture of the year, right? Any other picture carrying those credentials would be an obvious shoo-in for the award. Except, it turns out, a picture that tells the truth about being homosexual in America.

Since Crash won Best Picture two and a half years ago, do you hear anyone talking about it? Any memorable scenes recalled? Any truly memorable performances? When someone says "Crash" you think they're talking about their commute home from work. When someone says "Brokeback" everyone knows what they're talking out.

All things considered it makes me wonder if Heath Ledger ever had a chance at winning the Oscar, Philip Seymour Hoffman notwithstanding. I wouldn't be surprised if the Academy viewed Hoffman as a godsend that year. If Ledger wins an Oscar this time around, posthumously, that would be great. But it also leaves me with the sad feeling that the honor came too late, and on a picture that, overall, isn't nearly the achievement that Brokeback was.