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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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Comments

It NOT weird if you do in fact find Brad Pitt a bland actor. That doesn't mean he's bad, just overrated. Penn if anything doesn't get the attention he deserves, probably because of his bad behavior early in his career. No way is Sean Penn simply lecturing in his performances, that guy has talent coming out of his ears. Don't assume because YOU see things one way, that others are biased because they see them differently. They could just as easily say it's YOU who don't see things the way they are. As for Cary Grant, he certainly was charismatic but his acting was never considered bland or overrated by anyone was it? So that's not a good comparison.

Acting awards are about many things, including [but not enough of the time] screen presence. Which Brad Pitt has in buckets, and not simply because he is unusually good-looking. He can just stand there. Unlike a lot of actors, who never stop ACTING. Cary Grant was not as technically 'advanced' an actor as, say, Sean Penn, but he remains possibly the most adored and watchable of all screen actors.

Penn specialises in a kind of vacant intensity borne out of the dreaded Method school. He is technically flawless in MILK, but the performance does not work on any other levels and he ends up making Harvey Milk into an intrinsically uninteresting character. It's practically suffocating in its airtightness. With every Penn performance I feel as if I am being lectured at. There is no Elsewhere with him. Ultimately it is a form of sentimentalised realism. But don't tell this to actors. They all adore Sean Penn because he does so much ACTING. Please could we have less acting.

Brad Pitt is an excellent actor but he also has existenz. As do Johnny Depp and Ewan McGregor. It is their performances that will survive. BENJAMIN BUTTON sags a bit in the first half, but it was the most visually advanced film of the year, with a great performance at its core. And one that had me in tears on and off for 20 minutes. Sean Penn could never do that. This was not meant to be a Penn-bashing rant, but the weird lack of appreciation of Pitt's very special qualities got the alarm bells ringing. Yet again.

Correction: The Great Sir Peter O'Toole is both an ACTOR and a MOVIE STAR!! (At least in his heydays) BP is just eye-candy. But i did like him in "Cutting Class"! hehehe

He thinks Soderbergh should've sacrificed his artistic vision and cut down the movie just so that Del Toro would have a better shot at getting nominated? What an idiot. Awards don't mean anything, it's the work that matters. Che is the one of the very best films of the year, and Soderbergh's direction as well as Del Toro's performance are incredible. So what if it didn't get recognition. The world does not revolve around awards...

I think Brad fans have to listen to the criticism instead of just defending his work in knee-jerk fashion. True he takes on different roles, the problem is he never engages in those roles as fully as other actors. Seriously is there ANY role that Christian Bale couldn't have done better? Even Depp might have bested him in many of his roles, giving a truer, richer performance. But I do think SNATCH was one of Pitt's best.

Sure BP is good looking but he doesn't take steryeotypical roles. Has he ever done a romantic comedy or played the same character over, and over again? He's really versatile. I just think people hate on him because of his public image.Have you not seen Snatch, Jesse James, 12 Monkeys, or Babel?The man is a damn good actor. I think he deserves the nomination. He's been snubbed before.

The crititicism of BP's nomination is understandable. His performance was adequate for the material. Anything extraordinary about it should be credited to special effects and make up and carryover goodwill from the movie itself.

Many comparisons have been made between "Button" and "Gump" and so likewise, the same comparisons are probably being made between the lead character portrayals. But FG was a better movie and required more of an acting performance from Hanks. No offense meant to Pitt or his fans but any good looking (and he would have to have been good looking, no?) actor or even model of medium age could have performed the role.

Benecio del Toro, on the other hand, is a highly skilled, under-exposed craftsman portraying a charismatic historical figure in a movie that is all but invisible. Seriously, where is this movie? Was it released on one theater on opposite coasts so that it would be eligible for nominations in 09, but somehow got completely snubbed?

Are the producers trying so hard to time their movies for award consideration that they end up being ignored? I think Revolutionary Road came close to this. It was buzzed about far in advance of release to the point that when it finally came out so peeps could actually SEE IT, it was eclipsed by the slew of holiday films and "Slumdog" which had built up tremendous work of mouth.

The Visitor came out much earlier in the year to no fanfare but the film and Jenkins were championed by critics.

Sean Penn will probably win, much to my chagrin. I'd much prefer Mickey Rourke who's story is a classic comeback tale. Plus, his acceptance speech, sprinkled with gratitude for the love his pooches, would be the highlight of the show. Sean Penn's speech? Not so much.


Please!! Brad Pitt may be an authentic movie star, but he's also a real actor. His accent in Ben Button is the first realistic N'awlins accent ever put in a film. He deserves an oscar. Benico is great too, but so were lots of performances this year.

I personally have to agree with this article. There is no doubt that Brad Pitt is pure image. Like it was mentioned, can you imagine Brad Pitt playing a gay politician like Sean Penn did? No. Pitt is just famous for his looks and not his acting. Now those other actors nominated deserve to be nominated and Benicio did in fact deserve a nomination. I'm not trying to offend Brad Pitt at all, I'm just stating the truth. Now before you guys go on about how he is getting offended, imagine him playing the roles of his fellow nominees and you will see where I'm coming from.

I agree about actors versus movie stars. I found Pitt pretty laughable in TROY, even without O'Toole. In BABEL, you can really see a sharp difference in the clarity of Blanchett's work even conveying ambiguity (actor) and BP who I've always found a bit flat. His expressions just don't take you anywhere much (movie star). Although I guess it's not fair to compare him with titans like CB and PO'T. I thought he was good in SNATCH and a few others. Never cared for him in the stuff people tend to cite as his best work tho.

Has Kevin even watched a Brad Pitt Movie?.Id be amazed. He doesn't know what he is talking about. This article is full of sterotype. Brad Pitt is a wonderful character actor.

What rubbish. Brad Pitt is a fantastic actor. He should have been nominated for Jesse James, snatch, babel, fightclub all his films have been totally different characters, he changes his entire looks, accent everything to fit. Can you see anyone else playing his part in Fightclub? What crap to say you have to be able to do shakespear to be a great actor or you can't be a movie star and a good actor as well. Brad Pitt harks barck to the good old days when actors were movie stars, Liz Taylor comes to mind. Ben Button took hard work and 5 years in the making, Brad put soul into that character to bring it to life, his accent, having to change with the different ages. Your being biast just to fit your article. Brad deserves his nomination and he is a great talented actor whos films are on many people favourite lists of ALL TIME.

I am in love with Keanu Reeves, and I must be crazy because nobody believes it will ever happen. And the sad thing is, I think the same as they do. I'm not famous, I'm not a star, but I'm in love with him. He's only human, there's nothing vain about him. I would love that man for as long as he'd let me. Why should I be ashamed?

The first hour of CCBB was computer generated, and the balance of the film was, "moody." This does not qualify for an Oscar nom. More than one good actor could have filled this slot.

In my humble opinion, Brad Pitt deserves to win. The special effects on "The Curios Case of Benjamin Button" were the actors. Mr. Pitt put all his soul and heart into the character; his is a perfect performance, very subtle, moving and touching at the very same time. Every single modulation on his voice, his accent, all that deep work with his eyes. By the way, all the movement was his!

Benicio Del Toro deserved the nomination very much indeed. He carries his film with a torrent, hurricane within his soul that is impossible not to elevate to highest standards of film acting.

Brad Pitt and Benicio del Toro...That is a real competition! They are 100% stars, and 100% actors. They would make the Hollywood legends really proud for carrying the torch.

I think Kevin Lewin should blame another persons and not Brad Pitt. This isn't Brad's fault, he was convinced in Benjamin Button and he's awfully snubbed in several times (Snatch, Babel, Jesse James). It's like you blame Kate Winslet for "the Reader" because the role was dropped up by Nicole Kidman.

First IFC campaign for both fellow contenders Benicio Del Toro and Michael Fassbender. The company DID NOTHING for campaign. For Che was only two theaters in LA and other in NY, and Hunger was released only in LA for 1 week!!. Second, the oscar voters and third the critics. Maybe Lewin should remember that ANY critics group (except the OFC) nominate Del Toro or even the BAFTA snubbed Fassbender and Hawkins...

I stopped reading after the second sentence. Yes, Brad Pitt is a movie star but why on Earth should that mean that he can't be a good actor? Personally, I think he is better than at least two of the other four nominees.

Maybe you should watch some other films starring Brad Pitt. I think you will find he is one of the best actor of our time - seriously! In fairness he doesn't do pretty boy films either. Watch Babel, Burn After Reading or even Snatch, and discover several vastly different acting styles. And if he is so bad, why has he worked with most of the biggest Academy Award winning directors working at the moment. Tom O'Neil - watch a film or two, stop taking cheap shots! I'm not reading your rubbish anymore - become a "Shock Jock" and get it over and done with.

I have to agree that Benicio did get snubbed. He is a fantastic actor but why hate on Brad Pitt? The man's put his work in. He was fantastic in Babel and Jesse James but he didn't get an oscar nomination. I think he did great in Button. Give the man a chance!

Well, I'm no Brad Pitt fan, but this article is simply ABSURD. One cannot bash a nominee like that. If you think about the whole thing, it's flawed. Why exactly Brad Pitt - because it's trendy to hate him right now? Did the same person write this article about Catherine Zeta-Jones (even a winner!!!!! over a field of three great actresses!), Gwyneth Paltrow, Russell Crowe (he won because of becoming a star) or George Clooney? Nope. Even Jolie doesn't get as much hate as Pitt and her performance in Changeling was - well - mediocre. But Hollywood is all about the stars and the Academy is going to nominate stars, simply to have a show. If you want "the best to win", then possibly NONE!!!!!! of the best picture nominees would have been on that perfect list. Because - come on! - THE CURIOUS CASE is all about the big, schmaltzy epic! SLUMDOG is the Cinderella story! MILK is the socially important story! And the other two are the prestige adaptations! But where are the films that really, really mattered cinematically? They aren't nominated, because the industry doesn't care about them. So, this article IS REALLY POINTLESS. And why does he focus on Del Toro (a big name himself??) and not on an unknown name - like Fassbender?

4 hours is a TV miniseries, not a realistic length for a movie. The Oscars are for movies released in theaters. The Emmys are for TV broadcasts including miniseries. The market will not float a 4 hour movie. The director and producers [including del Toro] know the market's rules. The right 'art' in the wrong place/market will not be seen. For example, a mural painted in a dark ally maybe a masterpiece, but no one will see it.

Kevin Lewin should get an Oscar for Best Hissy Fit. What's done is done. Let's move on.


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