Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Sunday, 5 February 2012

BAFTA Preview: Best Actor

In the first part of Reel 6's week-long preview of the BAFTAs, it's Oldman vs. Fassbender for Best Actor

The BAFTAs are the awards body which gets the nominations right. On the whole, that is. Though they occasionally over reward the British contingent when the awards are handed out, they do at least recognise more of the very best in film than Oscar actually does. No category represents this better this year than Best Actor.

BAFTA is in line with everyone else in appreciating the excellence of George Clooney (The Descendants) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist), who appear to be the two battling it out for the Oscar. They have also been charmed by Brad Pitt (Moneyball), but it is two Brits (well, a Brit and an Irishman) who seem to be in pole position for the BAFTA.

Gary Oldman’s performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was rightly praised and would be very deserving of any award. To act in the shadow of the great Alec Guinness is impressive enough, but to do it so effectively and with such (very) quiet confidence and subtlety deserves a great swathe of superlatives.

However, and I don’t like saying this, he shouldn’t win. It’s not his fault at all. It is simply that Michael Fassbender’s performance in Shame seems to be from a completely different planet. Whilst Oldman had the challenge of living up to those who had gone before, Fassbender had a ridiculously difficult task: portraying a highly inaccessible character who, being a sex addict, has some very explicit scenes to portray.

Fassbender does not just play this role. He completely nails it, producing a performance of genuine intensity and becoming an utterly compelling presence at the heart of a challenging and difficult film. The fact that he has not been nominated for an Oscar is just shocking, showing either a distressing level of timidity from the Academy or a vast lack of imagination.

Dujardin, whose silent performance in The Artist is deftly executed, has the potential to challenge them, but if either Oldman or Fassbender win, it will be a triumphant moment. I reckon Oldman will take the gong, but, for me, it would have to be Fassbender.

The BAFTA Film Awards are on Sunday 12th February and will be broadcast at 9pm on BBC One

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