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Oscar Hype for a Dead Actor

Posted by on July 25, 2008

Warning: This post may contain controversial issues raised over a highly praised but deceased actor. Do not read if you think it may offend. 😛

I, like millions of others in the world, was anticipating The Dark Knight‘s release in cinemas. My reasoning was not however, as it may have been for countless others, because I wanted to see Heath Ledger in his final role. I grew up with the Tim Burton Batman films and later franchise, though Michael Keaton is still my Batman, and I don’t think anyone since has surpassed his brilliance. The secondary reason was because my husband wanted to see it, and we rarely get to the cinema these days, so I do like to see things we are both interested in seeing.

I’m not here really to post a review of the film, but to perhaps question all of the Oscar hype Heath Ledger is getting over this film. He did a brilliant job as the Joker, yes, but how much of that brilliance was imitating the Joker’s voice from previous incarnations? Because frankly I wasn’t able to look too far past the similarities between his portrayal and Jack Nicholson’s, voice wise.

In any case, since when does the super hero movie genre warrant an Oscar nomination for acting? If Heath Ledger is nominated for his portrayal as the Joker, how much of that is because he can’t possibly have another chance at winning an Oscar, now that he’s no longer with us?

I understand that I may come across as disliking Ledger, which is completely not the case. I’ve enjoyed his films since Two Hands and 10 Things I Hate About You (both of which I own on DVD). I am just questioning the motivation behind all this Oscar hype. But then again, can we even trust awards like that any more?

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Dominica has a strong interest in exploring diversity in media, seeing people subverting corporate control of creativity through crowdfunding and indie publishing, and spending as much time as she can travelling the world and discovering culture. This is what she most regularly blogs about. In her spare time, Dominica is primarily focused on long-form improv theatre, and writing and publishing speculative fiction. You can find links to some of her free and published stories and screenplays on her writing page, or check out her pirate time-travel novel Adrift. Though born and raised in Australia to American parents, Dominica lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2008-2014, until she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She also has a background in web programming, filmmaking, and stand-up comedy. For more information, check out her about page, or any of the specific pages about her various creative pursuits in the links at the top of the page.

3 Responses to Oscar Hype for a Dead Actor

  1. Chris

    Michael Keaton was an awesome Batman, but Christian Bale is far a better Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is meant to be a clueless billionaire playboy, and Bale played it perfectly 🙂 I wonder though, if I put on a mask, will my voice suddenly become awesome? 😉

    As for Heath Ledger, he destroys Jack Nicholson’s Joker (which is saying a lot considering we’re talking Jack Nicholson here!) Now I enjoyed the 1989 Batman a lot (I thought Batman Returns was better though) but after reading the comics I have, when I imagine the Joker, what I imagine is far closer to Heath Ledger’s interpretation than Jack Nicholson’s. Their voices are completely different too 😉

    Even Mark Hamill did a better job as the Joker than Nicholson 😉

    And what’s wrong with a superhero movie getting an acting Oscar nomination? I thought Ledger did a good enough job to earn a nomination. If Russell Crowe can win for Gladiator, then Ledger should be in with a chance for The Dark Knight. And I never really rated Ledger at all until I saw the first Dark Knight trailer, which is strange considering how much of a one-eyed West Australian I am! I was actually really worried when I first heard the news: “a gay cowboy is playing the greatest comic book villain of all time? WHAT HAVE THEY DONE???”

    Want to hear something really embarrassing? I had tears in my eyes at the end of The Dark Knight, when Gordon was explaining to his son that they’ll have to chase Batman, even though “he didn’t do anything wrong” 🙁

    They’ve set it up so well for a sequel. It’s going to be hard to top the Joker as the villain, but with actors like Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman involved, I seriously CANNOT WAIT.

    I love Batman.

  2. Ky

    Heath is excellent in the film, you forget that the hype over his Joker started before he died.

  3. Luis

    Heath Ledger was BRILLIANT as The Joker. Although I enjoyed Jack Nicholson’s portrayal, Heath Ledger brought a fresh and original perspective to the character. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was more comical and animated, but Ledger’s was much more dramtic and intellectual. That’s primarily the reason he’s getting nominated. He mastered the role and took ownership, setting a new standard for The Joker and villains alike. Let’s take a close look at some facts. The Dark Knight is the most successful movie of all time just under Titanic(look at all the awards that won!!). Everyone knows the success of the movie is in large part because of his performance. That’s reason enough to atleast get an Oscar nomination. Okay, okay, his death added to the hype of the overall success of the movie. Safe to say! But it in no way has anything to do with his performance in general. It was flawless!!! Take a second look at it. Find something wrong with it PLEASE and get back to me. Everything from his body language to his facial expressions!! PERFECTED!!! For an actor to play a role THAT GOOD, add to the success of one of the most successful movies of all time, and just steal the movie… THat actor desrves an Oscar!!! LET’S GO HEATH LEDGER!!!!

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