In Wednesday’s Hollywood Reporter, there is an ad imploring voters to consider the motion-capture performance of Andy Serkis in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” The holographic insert shows Serkis transforming into a chimp. Serkis was touted for playing the computer-generated Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” films and the titular “King Kong” (2005) to no avail.
If he couldn’t reap a bid for “Lord of the Rings” — a trilogy that contended twice for Best Picture before “Return of the King” won the top prize — how can he get in for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes?” It’s a prequel to a decades-old film franchise that scored 80% from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The ad has an impressive pull quote from Richard Corliss of Time who says, “Serkis gives a performance so nuanced and powerful it may challenge the Academy to give an Oscar to an actor who is never seen in the film.” That’s a bit hyperbolic since only one of 30 Gold Derby Experts predict Serkis to get a nomination. His only advocate, Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) has Serkis in third place.
While voice performances got Robin Williams a special Golden Globe for “Aladdin” (1992) and Eddie Murphy a BAFTA nod for “Shrek” (2001), animated turns and performance capture are not Oscar-friendly. “Avatar” (2009) — the highest grossing film of all time and a nominee for nine Oscars — still could not reap recognition for stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana‘s computer-enhanced performances. The only performer in the history of the Oscars to contend for playing a non-human is Jeff Bridges who was a 1984 Best Actor nominee for playing an alien, albeit in human form, in “Starman.”
Serkis has proven himself an accomplished performer even without any digital trickery altering his appearance. He got a BAFTA bid for “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (2010) and a Golden Globe nod for the telefilm “Longford” (2006). If he’s looking for awards attention, he should focus more on these kinds of works rather than monkeying around in a “Planet of the Apes” reboot.