"It's stunning, it's iconic," director Christopher Nolan tells the New York Times about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight, " which is due in theaters on July 18. "It's going to just blow people away." (READ MORE)
If it's that good, Ledger might earn an Oscar nomination. When Jack Nicholson played the role in director Tim Burton's "Batman" in 1989, he didn't reap a bid from the academy, but he was nominated in the supporting race at BAFTA and in the lead comedy/musical category at the Golden Globes.
Ledger was nominated for the lead-actor Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005 but lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote"). He might be considered a sentimental fave if he's nominated next in either lead or supporting for "Dark Knight," but Hollywooders are notoriously hard-hearted.
Only one acting Oscar has ever been bestowed posthumously: Peter Finch ("Network") in 1976.
Perhaps there may a parallel between Ledger and another young heartthrob star who died tragically after demonstrating impressive early promise. James Dean was nominated twice posthumously — for "East of Eden" (1955) and "Giant" (1956) — and lost both bids.