Dear Academy: Don’t Overlook These Great Performances
Members of the motion picture Academy now have ballots in hand. Presumably many of them are reading these very words. So it feels like something of a duty to whisper a few suggestions, particularly as the awards season can so quickly be reduced to the same handful of names and titles.
First and foremost, there are a few contenders that seemed strong coming into the season, but have somehow been all but forgotten. Take Jake Gyllenhaal in “Stronger.” Here is one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films (93% on Rotten Tomatoes), dealing in a well-worn, Oscar-friendly genre (a biopic centered on a disabled person who beats the odds), featuring another great turn from an actor who has delivered a number of awards-caliber performances lately that have gone unrecognized by the Academy (“Prisoners,” “Nightcrawler,” “End of Watch”). What’s it going to take to put his name on the ballot?
Then there’s Ray Romano in “The Big Sick.” His performance is a funny, warm, endearing portrait of a father coping with a comatose daughter; her suitor, to whom he can only attempt to relate; and the colorful trail blazed by his firebrand wife, who’s emotionally estranged from him. Holly Hunter has deservedly been in the thick of awards buzz throughout, but Romano, like Gyllenhaal, only has nominal recognition from regional critics to show for his impressive work.