Sure, as of right now, it looks like Forest Whitaker will win best actor at the Oscars for "Last King of Scotland." So far he's won almost every critics' award and, based upon what I'm hearing from within the ranks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, he'll probably nab the Golden Globe next.
Sometimes these award juggernauts are impossible to stop once momentum builds, as Geoffrey Rush discovered when he claimed the Academy Award for "Shine" soon after pulling off wins at the New York and L.A. film critics, then Globes.
But as Edward Douglas of Comingsoon.net notes below, let's not forget what happened to "Gangs of New York" star Daniel Day-Lewis. He swept up victories from the New York and L.A. Film critics, then SAG members, but lost on Oscar night to Adrien Brody ("The Pianist").
Many actors experienced the same Oscar heartbreak after sweeping the early kudos, but Day-Lewis is an especially good example to cite because he and Whitaker have something peculiar, and spooky, in common: both portrayed sinister roles with furious, eye-popping intensity. Day-Lewis was street gang leader Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting. Whitaker is Uganda's bloodthirsty dictator Idi Amin.
It's rare that villainous roles win Oscars. It happens from time to time, yes, as we saw with Anthony Hopkins prevailing as a devious serial killer in "The Silence of the Lambs." But Hopkins handled the role with such flamboyant excess and a taunting wink that it was hilariously campy. Whitaker really lets loose, too, but doesn't wash it down with chianti and fava beans. Hopkins had something else in his favor: his film was headed toward a best-picture win and, when that happens, stars often get to go along for the ride. There's not much hope that "Last King" can do that.
Thus it's entirely possible that Whitaker's early romp really mirrors the experience of Bob Hoskins, who won best actor from the N.Y. and L.A. Critics, National Society of Film Critics, the Golden Globes and BAFTA, but then lost to a film legend overdue for an Oscar: Paul Newman ("The Color of Money"). Whitaker faces a similar situation at the upcoming Oscars: Peter O'Toole ("Venus").
Which scenario do you think will end up applying to Whitaker this year? Click on the "Comments" link below.
Photos, from left: Whitaker, Day-Lewis, Hoskins, Rush.
(Fox Searchlight/ Miramax/ Handmade Films/ L.A. Times)