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Posthumous Oscar nom for Heath Ledger's 'stunning' Joker?

March 9, 2008 | 11:05 am

"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 Heath 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.

The comments to this entry are closed.


"To me it is like letting the pro-athletes, juiced on steroids, into the Hall of Fame. It’s just not fair and sends a very bad message to our children."

tnnuke, your comparison is just plain wrong. Pro-athletes take drugs to enhance their performance. I doubt Heath Ledger took prescription medicine to help improve his acting. They're two completely different things. It sends a very bad message to our children if such stupid comparisons are allowed to be taken seriously.

i wont even hear an argument against it, because this was the best performance ever in any movie in the history of film

you could call me crazy, but anyone who's watched the movie knows it, whether they admit it or not

the performance set a new standard for hollywood acting, not only because of ledger's talent and authenticity but because of what the character of the joker represented and how he was able to portray the symbol of anarchy and government reality in the role

he combined the image of the iconic villan with an original, modern, and real-life aura that was done flawlessly. when saying that nothing is perfect, i would have to make an exception for this performance because there truly wasnt a mistake. he sould win an oscar for best performance in a movie...ever

I don't think it is reaching to say that there has NEVER been a performance of this caliber within the realm of American Film, before or since Heath Ledger's Joker. I have tried for weeks, but can't call to mind a single performance by any actor/actress from any genre that even comes close. He was that good. Oscar worthy? Please.. The work he did trancends Oscar worthy. None of the other nominees will be qualified to have their name next to his. He is truly a breed apart. There is apt to be a lot of jealousy and resentment, because Ledger was so young, and a relative newcomer to Hollywood. This does not change the fact that he has pioneered a new standard for film acting.

Why would The Academy want to set the example of rewarding a drug addict by giving him an Oscar posthumously? To me it is like letting the pro-athletes, juiced on steroids, into the Hall of Fame. It’s just not fair and sends a very bad message to our children. I may be wrong though. Hollywood is full of Vampires and hey, look how much money that movie is making!

heath ledger was amazing and i'll never forget him.

Saw the movie at the Drive-In last night. Ledger stole the show. He was brilliant. Speaking as a writer, I want to remind everyone just how difficult it is to stay in character, especially an "evil" character, for any amount of time. It is exhausting, emotionally and physically. Once the character becomes real, you find yourself understanding his or her twisted motives much more than you want to. You question your own sanity because you are able to force yourself to become this character, a character you find morally repugnant, yet strangely sympathetic. You are afraid that you won't be able to leave the character's behind - that it will attach itself to your mind like an alternate personality. Sometimes it can be fun, especially if you like to unleash your dark side once in a while, but its also frightening. I have done this while writing stories, coming back to a character day after day, channelling evils that I'm not so sure I will be able to just slough off when the last sentence is written. Ledger was the last and best Joker. No one will ever be able to follow that performance. As much as I loved him and everything Batman, I was profoundly shocked and disturbed by his performance in a way I haven't been since Schindler's List. He most richly deserves an Oscar nomination, and I will always regret the loss of one of the brightest stars of my generation. He was going to be great.

here is the only performance that convines me as to why women fall in love with serial killers ill be madly in love with ledgers joker for this lifetime and the next the insanity the genius the power didnt even know ledger existed till now

the only other movie id watched with heath ledger was brokeback mountain, not saying i loved this movie, but i did respect his acting skills. but after seeing this batman, which ive never see one before, i found myself craving for more of his portayal as the joker. nolan isnt using heaths death as a promotion for the movie, hes paying credit to an amazing acting job that will give me and im sure the world chills everytime we watch it, the oscar should go to heath, even if he wasnt passed away. he blew my mind. god bless and rest in peach heath, you left to young.

I had no idea who Heath Ledger was until about 3 years ago.. I've fallen so madly in love with the way he portrayed himself on screen.. he could become any character and make it seem like it was nothing! He truly was an incredible actor, and will be missed dearly.. God Bless and R.I.P.

there's still a part of me saying hes not dead,

listen to his lines "not every joke is funny"

"it's all part of the plan"

"why so serious"

and also why was there a ladder out of his appartment window? police , investegators and medical surgeons don't need ladders,its just that part of me that saying "no hes not dead, its all a joke"

i think he got the role in this movie because he would go along with acting dead for a publicity thing, just think about it;)

but even if he is dead and if his role is as good as everyones saying, then there's no doubt he will get an oscar nomination
i love him

depression or no, heath ledger was a authentic genius, forging ahead in leaps and bounds as an (untrained!!) actor and perhaps a director and screenplay writer. he was sooo much better than hoffman and still didn't get an oscar. i am sure, if ledger was pleased with his performance, which he sometimes was not, that it will be truly outstanding and that he will at least be nominated. if he is as great as he was in brokeback and candy, and is not nominated, i will never watch the oscars again. i much prefer the other awards show anyway. no heath, no and film buffs can be hard-heated too. ledger, day-lewis and depp are the best. 'nuff said.

dark real world
dark real person
HeathL. was never dark
excellent actor - just dead

It's all another movie.$$$
Joker (Icon)

The only other BATMAN performances I thought deserved nominations were Michelle Pfeiffer's catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS. She was so good, i think considered a best supporting actress threat that year. And, yes Nicholson in the 1st Batman movie. He was great!

I have no doubt Ledger will give an awards worthy performance in this film. The sad thing is, the movie itself will probably be awards worthy, but we've long since learned the Academy has no intent on recognizing great movies that are also popular with the public. I'm not counting on them to recognize Ledger for playing The Joker, no matter how great he is. He won't get enough of those all-important Number 1 choice votes in their stupid nominating system.

Heath Ledger looks amazing in the "Dark Knight" trailer. I think his performance will be stunning. He was an excellent actor. He would have been a very worthy Oscar winner for his heartbreaking and unforgettable portrayal of Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. If he is as good in the next Batman movie as anticipated, I wouldn't be surprised to see him nominated for various awards next season.

Before tragic Ledger's death... The role is more expected, including some said: "This will be iconic".... There was a lot of buzz of him even since the first trailer

It's common Posthmous nominations even Oscars... Marit Allen, Conrad L. Hall, James Dean, Peter Finch, Jeanne Eagles... I think and Believe that Heath ledger could received an Oscar nomination, especially for that reasons:

*Iconic role: His Joker is more expected and the image is more agreed to this original comic
*Talent actor: It's common for the talent
*Beloved by Hollywood: Important celebrities are joined with him
*Unlikely caracther?: Don't necessary... al Pacino for "dick Tracy"

Though I am eagerly anticipating the release of The Dark Knight, and I'm sure I'll be in love with Ledger's performance, I doubt the buzz would even be here without the death of the actor, sadly. Luckily--and slightly morbidly--the situation surrounding the performance might shine a light on a brilliant performance that would otherwise be rejected and have to enjoy the limelight of the MTV movie awards. I hope the Academy embraces The Joker...after all, they are WAY too serious.

East of Eden: 4 nominations, won Best Actress
Giant: 10 nominations including Best Picture, won Best Director
Network: 10 nominations including Best Picture, won Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original screenplay

It's not really a reasonable comparison.

I think that it is unlikely that Oscar will bite.

I think , Heath ledger is deserve to get oscar for this role .

John - your accusation towards Nolan that Ledger's death is being used in marketing is simply absurd. If this was true, then Nolan (and WB) would have continued forward with the Joker viral marketing campaign - but what have they done immediately after Ledger's death? They changed the focus of that campaign to Aaron Eckhart's character, to respect Ledger and his family. Please don't accuse them of something they are taking pains to avoid, when you obviously don't have the right information.

Re: Thomas

Don't pretend you know Christopher Nolan. You write like a fan unable to decipher the machinations of PR and marketing as they truly and necessarily exist in the entertainment business. Mr. Nolan apparently chose to turn attention on himself and go public with his grieving. (You're correct, I don't read Newsweek.) Those closest to Mr. Ledger did no such thing, instead they exercised discretion and respect and deflected the media circus.

I don't think anyone's intentionally "using" Ledger's death to sell the movie. Besides, there was a lot of buzz about this performance months before his death. If he were still alive, Nolan would still be making these comments.

If you've read his newsweek article remembering Heath, or know anything about the man, Nolan is a standup guy with nothing but the utmost respect for Ledger, both as an actor, and as a friend. Don't blindly assume he just wants only to sell his film, just to be an ass.

Christopher Nolan has a film to sell. It's pathetic that he's using the public's morbid fascination with Mr. Ledger's death as a marketing tactic. Imagine the studio/PR meetings on this as the Hollywood spin masters tried to figure out how to make sure they take in as much money as possible on the back of dead actor. Ugh.




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