While everyone on the awards circuit is praising J.K. Simmons‘ supporting turn as a villainous music teacher — and rightfully so — in “Whiplash,” I wanted to take a moment to stick up for the film’s seemingly forgotten leading man Miles Teller.
Sure, Teller may be a bit young and not quite a household name yet, but I urge Oscar voters not to forget about him when it comes time to filling out their Best Actor ballots.
In “Whiplash,” Teller plays Andrew Neyman, a young drummer whose aspirations for greatness find him enrolled in a class led by Simmons’ ruthless, possibly abusive Terence Fletcher. Throughout the film, Teller is often seen behind his drum set, playing so emotionally and so convincingly that he ends up covered in blood, sweat and tears. Yes, Teller is bleeding for an Oscar.
A lesser actor would be devoured by Simmons’ over-the-top Fletcher, but Teller plays the role of Andrew in such a way that we never see him as a coward, but instead as a fighter who will stop at nothing to be perfect. He also has quiet, touching scenes with his father (Paul Reiser) and a potential love interest (Melissa Benoist) that help flesh him out to a fully-realized three-dimensional character.
Despite his commanding presence on screen and behind his drums, Teller does not even crack the Top 20 contenders for Best Actor according to Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users. Instead, the men most likely to be nominated here are Michael Keaton (“Birdman“) with 27/10 odds, Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher“) with 7/2 odds, Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game“) with 5/1 odds, Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything“) with 11/2 odds and Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner“) with 25/1 odds.
Can the Hollywood heartthrob break through the crowded Best Actor race at this year’s Oscars to nab his first nomination? Let’s consider the factors working for and against this Gold Derby Oscar MVP:
Oscar voters are sucks for passionate, emotional performances and Teller does not disappoint. He screams, he fights and he bleeds, all the while being incredibly endearing.
Just last year Teller won the Sundance jury prize for dramatic acting for “The Spectacular Now,” so he’s no stranger to awards.
At only 27, he might be too young to be a serious threat for the Best Actor Oscar. His good looks could also hurt him with Academy voters thanks to Slap the Stud syndrome.
As mentioned above, there’s killer competition in this year’s Best Actor category. In a lesser year, Teller might stand a chance of reaping a nomination, but this year in particular is especially tough.