Plenty of male actors have been nominated for going nude in films. Among the best known are Colin Firth (“A Single Man,” 2009), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Aviator,” 2004), and Jude Law (“Cold Mountain,” 2003). These actors, however, strutted their stuff from the rear. Going full frontal — as Fassbender does repeatedly — is something Academy voters are averse to.
There are very few notable exceptions of men getting Oscar nods for showing the full monty. Most recently, Viggo Mortensen revealed all in “Eastern Promises” (2007). Geoffrey Rush (“Quills,” 2000) and Edward Norton (“American History X,” 1998), Robin Williams (“The Fisher King,” 1991), and Albert Finney (“Under the Volcano,” 1984) are the only others — unless you count distant frontals from Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) and Robert De Niro in “The Deer Hunter” (1978).
On the supporting side, Jaye Davidson infamously showed what he was packing in “The Crying Game” (1992) and Jude Law can be seen in a bathtub in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999). Peter Firth‘s amount of exposure in “Equus” (1977) matches Fassbender’s length — er, the amount of time he’s nude.
The precedent of shunning naked men is worth noting because none of these actors won their Oscar bids. Meanwhile, actresses who do full frontal can be rewarded for their work, including Kate Winslet for “The Reader” (2008). Everyone from Vanessa Redgrave (“Isadora,” 1968) to Meryl Streep (“Silkwood,” 1983) to Michelle Williams (“Blue Valentine,” 2010) has bared something on their way to an Oscar nomination.
A peculiar double standard has Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball,” 2001) winning the Academy Award for her bravery in a sexually frank role while Fassbender remains an outside chance for a nomination — let alone a win. If voters can look past the nudity and embrace his overall performance, Fassbender could deservingly emerge as a frontrunner.
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