Hugh Grant could ride Meryl Streep vehicle ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ to Oscars

Hugh Grant is a national treasure for all of us over here in Blighty. The rom-com supremo has graced our screens for 34 year now, since his first billing (credited as ‘Hughie’ Grant) as Lord Adrian in 1982’s “Privileged.” Since then, he has brought charm and charisma to some of British cinema’s most beloved roles and moments, including “Four Weddings and Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Love Actually.”

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He’s far too often denounced as a one-trick pony, however. Let’s not forget Grant is a very experienced actor who has had many great performances over the years. Personally, I feel his turn in “About a Boy,” is an understated, underestimated masterpiece. He thinks his best work was in “The Remains of the Day,” another restrained piece of acting. And he has also impressed in “About a Boy” and “Sense and Sensibility,” took risks in “Cloud Atlas” and charmed audiences in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

Not to sound like a member of his PR team, however, it has to be said that he perhaps has fallen back into the same character in a fair few projects. He’s copped some criticism over the years and his work might not be as flashy or layered as those of, say, Daniel Day-Lewis, but Grant has proven himself a true movie star and an actor of quality.

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His first big hit, “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” was the one that brought Grant his only two major acting awards: Best Actor at BAFTA and a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Actor. His acceptance speech at the latter is used in “The Rewrite.” The footage is adapted for his character, a screenwriter, winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

This is the year that Grant may well get to the Oscars with the Meryl Streep vehicle “Florence Foster Jenkins,” in which he plays St. Clair Bayfield, loyal husband to the title character, a socialite convinced she can sing. Many experts have him in their top five for Best Supporting Actor. Among his competition, there are more dramatic, showy performances but Oscar voters have often cited one or two comedic turns in the supporting categories along with the heavy, weighty roles. Plus, Grant’s role isn’t without drama – there are plenty of moments for him to shine and critics have taken notice, with some even calling this performance his best-ever.

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What’s more is that Grant is effortlessly charming. His last talk show appearance was with his leading lady on “The Graham Norton Show” and he was funny, witty, self- deprecating and very enjoyable to watch. He is primed to succeed on the Oscar campaign trail. Grant has also been on our screens for a fair few years – some may utter the word ‘overdue’ with connection to his name.

He’s also a bonafide movie star – which we know the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. voters love, so he’s in with a great chance there where he is competing for Best Comedy Actor. Plus, his film is all about pursuing one’s artistic impulses, which is sure to appeal to SAG voters. And let’s not forget how well the BAFTAs treat their own actors; Grant won against Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump).

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