This year’s Best Actor Oscar race was incredibly tight, offering five nominees who delivered absolutely fantastic performances in some of the year’s best and most acclaimed films. The race is now over, as Eddie Redmayne has won the 2015 Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in The Theory of Everything.
Ready for the Academy Awards this Sunday? Need help winning your Oscar pool? ScreenCrush Editor-in-Chief Mike Sampson and Managing Editor Matt Singer are here to help. Or potentially make things worse. Honestly, they’re not great at guessing the winners. But they’re going to try their best.
It’s not surprising that the BBC made a little-known (at least to North American audiences) Stephen Hawking biopic back in 2004. This transforms into slightly interesting trivia when you realize that ‘Hawking’ stars a pre-fame Benedict Cumberbatch as the renowned theoretical physicist. However, it edges into wacky “Holy s--t!” territory when you realize that the Discovery Channel is going to re-air the film this Sunday. The same day as the Golden Globes. Where Eddie Redmayne is nominated for playing Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything.’ And where his chief rival is Cumberbatch, nominated for playing another British genius in ‘The Imitation Game.’
If you’re going to play the Oscar prediction game, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are often one of the biggest indicators of who’s going to get nominated and who’s going to win. The actors represent the largest portion of the Academy’s voting body, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the nominations for the 21st Annual SAG Awards are hugely representative of what we will end up seeing when Oscar nominations are announced early next year. And that’s a shame: These are some of the safest and most predictable nominations in a long time.
Stephen Hawking may be the subject of a biopic poised for Oscar gold with ‘The Theory of Everything,’ but it turns out that the renowned theoretical physicist has very different cinematic aspirations. In fact, if the ‘Brief History of Time’ author has his way, he’d play a role typically reserved for menacing European character actors: a James Bond villain.
In cinematic circles, there are a few names for this time of year. Awards-minded individuals call the fall “Oscar season” because this is when the campaigning for little gold men gets particularly hot and heavy. The late film critic Roger Ebert used to call it “good movie season,” because the byproduct of all that campaigning was all of the studios’ most promising and intellectually stimulating titles getting released together in the span of two months. In recent years, I’ve started to call the fall by a different name: Biopic season, because barely a week goes by without a new biographical film.
There’s a special sensibility that James Marsh brings as the director of ‘The Theory of Everything,’ which, I suspect, has a lot to do with his success as a documentary filmmaker. Marsh won an Oscar for directing ‘Man on Wire’ – a documentary detailing Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the two World Trade Center towers – and now he’s back on everyone’s awards radar with his Stephen Hawking biopic, ‘The Theory of Everything.’
It’s a strange thing, admiring an actor’s ability to physically act out a part when the role in question has that actor almost entirely immobilized. And what Eddie Redmayne does in portraying Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything' is physical – what Redmayne conveys and accomplishes with basically just limited facial expressions is truly remarkable. But that’s the thing: who looks at Stephen Hawking and thinks to themselves, Yeah, I could successfully portray this man in a movie?
Felicity Jones in ‘The Theory of Everything’ is a revelation of sorts. Think about how many times a biopic has been done and the lead female character is written off in reviews as “So and so was great in a thankless role.” Ignoring the cliché of the word “thankless,” that’s almost become a trope in movies like this: The “thankless” role for a woman. But, that’s what’s so fascinating about Jones in ‘The Theory of Everything,’ not only is she Great with a capital G playing the role of Stephen Hawking’s first wife, Jane Hawking, an argument could also be made that Jones is the true lead of this movie. Put another way: There are a lot of thanks to go around.