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Has Brad's 'Button' bumped Benny's 'Che'?

January 28, 2009 | 11:09 pm

One of our Buzzmeter Oscarologists, Kevin Lewin of World Entertainment News Network, is so riled up about the Academy Awards' snub of "Che" star Benicio Del Toro that he sent Gold Derby this "semi-rant." Hmmm. That's Kev just being modest. It's a rant. And a fun one. Maybe even Oscar-worthy — nomination anyway? Read on.

Spot the odd one out: Frank Langella, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, Richard Jenkins and Brad Pitt! Yes, ladies and gents, Brad's a movie star and the others are all actors.

Che_benicio_del_toro

I think the Oscars have done well to cut through the also-rans and make the correct picks this year — so many critics seem to have lost themselves in questionable films and roles, giving "Revolutionary Road," "Happy-Go-Lucky" and other movies far more kudos than they deserve.

But I'm not sure Pitt should be in there among this year's acting class — after all, his "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" really is half a movie of acting and half a movie of impressive special effects and facial tics.

Don't get me wrong, this is the best thing Brad's done — but even I can pull facial expressions for a computer to make me look like a pro!

Now, the crux of this semi-rant revolves around Benicio Del Toro's "Che." I'm sure our beloved Benny couldn't give two hoots about the Oscars — he already has one and he's clearly not the type of guy who's that bothered if he gets another. But fair's fair — his Che Guevara deserves some kind of reward. Maybe that's why Sean Penn singled the portrayal out at the SAGs on Sunday.

So here's something to ponder — did Steven Soderbergh's stubbornness cost Benny a nod? Should his name be on the short list instead of Brad Pitt's? The answers: Yes and Yes!

"Che" really doesn't need to be a four-hour-plus epic, and, though I admire Mr. Soderbergh's determination not to edit, I worry that his stance may have cost the movie the respect it deserves, and Del Toro an Oscar nomination. In turn, these accolades would have given the film the publicity boost it isn't getting.

I like Pitt a lot — he's got Steve McQueen's cool and a bag load of presence, but let's not confuse that with acting. He's a movie star. And, in a best actor category, shouldn't the best actors be there?

If you're a Pitt homer and you need more convincing, ask yourself this: "Can I visualize Brad onstage in a Shakespeare tragedy?" Now stop giggling, and understand that's ultimately the simplest test of acting over movie stardom. Think Keanu Reeves in "Hamlet" — remember that? Now put Benny, Langella, Penn, Jenkins — even Rourke —onstage in Shakespeare, and I think it works. OK, maybe Mickey's a stretch, but I'm trying to make a point here. And I do think he'd be a great King Lear.

Want another example of Pitt's acting shortcomings? Revisit the awful "Troy" and check out the tent scene where Brad gets schooled by the always exceptional Peter O'Toole. Movie star versus actor!

So, in conclusion, I feel for Benicio del Toro as he's the kid who misses the big game because his coach ran up the score against the Oscar Voting Vultures — and they're the ones picking the teams for the Super Bowl. But Benny, your performance didn't bypass me — or Sean Penn. And I do hope Brad Pitt enjoys the Oscars. He's there on a wild card.

Photo: IFC Films

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