Oscars Watch: Can ‘Win Win’ do just that for Paul Giamatti?

Win Win” has been championed by the critics and is an arthouse hit grossing more than $7 million in the last seven weeks. Paul Giamatti plays an attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach, who discovers and nurtures a talented newcomer. Could this be the year that the veteran actor finally pins down an Oscar?

If Giamatti needs inspiration, he need look no further than Richard Jenkins, the leading man in “Win Win” writer director Tom McCarthy‘s last film. “The Visitor” also had a low-key spring release but Jenkins, a respected character actor, reaped a 2007 Best Actor bid; he lost to Sean Penn (“Milk”)
“Win Win” is distributed by Fox Searchlight, the savvy Oscar campaigner behind two recent Best Actor champs — Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart,” 2009) and Forrest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” 2006) — as well as the reigning Best Actress Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”).

Giamatti’s first courted Oscar in 2005 with “Sideways.” He lost the Golden Globe Best Musical/Comedy Actor race to eventual Oscar champ Jamie Foxx (“Ray”). Despite “Sideways” earning five Oscar bids, including Best Picture and both Best Supporting Actor  (Thomas Hayden Church) and Actress (Virginia Madsen), Giamatti was snubbed. 

The following year, he was nominated by the academy as Best Supporting Actor for the Russell Crowe boxing picture “Cinderella Man”; he was bested by George Clooney in “Syriana.” Last year, he was the surprise winner of the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy Actor for “Barney’s Version.” However, once again Giamatti was left out of the Best Actor race at the Oscars.

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