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Real VS. Original Characters: What type of performance is more worthy?

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  • WildforFilm
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    #196329

    Lately I’ve been thinking about how many of the recent Oscar nominees and winners have been for performances that portray a real persons (i.e. Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking) and just how much the Academy loves biopics. Even this year, many predictions are favoring those performances that are depicting real people (i.e Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs).

    While many of these are great performances, does anyone else think it’s kind of unfair when recognizing these performances? Think about it, these actors have source material to base their performances from and are able to spend time studying their character. Actors playing an original character have nothing to go off of other than the script and are responsible for creating that performance all their own.

    Referring back to last year, someone like Jake Gyllenhal wasn’t even nominated for a performance that many felt was his career best! And why was that the case? Was it because his character wasn’t a real person? Personally, I thought his performance in Nightcrawler was better than Redmayne’s.

    Does anyone else feel like this bias towards biopic performances is hindering originality from being recognized? Or am I just bitter about Redmayne and the thought of Fassbender winning?

    Thoughts?

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    FilmGuy619
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    #196331

    I usually prefer when they award original performances because these days, when an actor is awarded for playing a real person, they tend to reward those that use the roles as shortcuts to the podium (Eddie Redmayne in Theory of Everything, Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, Geoffrey Rush in Shine, Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, etc.). In other words, those that get the impersonation right and then call it a day. But when the actor gives a more fully-realized performance, like Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, and even Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs, then I don’t mind. I still think Fassbender’s work in Shame is his best thus far, but I’m all for the praise he is getting for Steve Jobs because his work still feels like a true performance. I loved it!

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    seabel
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    #196332

    This thread is nonsense, as is most of the garbage we have to read every time we come here from childish posters and people who start dumb, simple, mega specific threads for things that objectively don’t deserve one. And this has nothing to do with freedom expression, but with economy of language and space in this horrible designed forums.

    Real vs. Fictitious? Who says one has to be considered more worthy than the other? The important thing is that the actor connects with the audience. Who cares if it’s Sara Goldfarb, Erin Brockovich, Stephen Hawking or Riggan Thomson? 

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    Eddy Q
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    #196333

    Fassbender’s Jobs may as well be considered a fictional character, seeing how much the film deviates from fact and how he doesn’t even attempt to do any kind of “impersonation”. He plays the character as written in the script and that’s it. Playing someone as famous as Jobs may help (or possibly hinder) him to the podium, but he’s very much in a different category to Jamie Foxx’s Ray Charles or Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher.

    To answer the question in the heading, I don’t think performances of original characters are necessarily more awards-worthy than those of real people or vice versa, but I agree that it’s frustrating if a biopic wins an acting Oscar seemingly by default. It goes without saying really that there are times when I would vote for the biographical performance and times when I wouldn’t. 

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    babypook
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    #196334

    The Title of this thread mislead me. I was originally going to say, “how in heck is real vs original relative to the quality of the performance”?

     

    O; another Jake fan. Jake, Bradley, Leo, Jennifer, Marion, Meryl…..they’re all so freaking great that who tf cares which movie they’re in???

    I generally feel for actors attempting “biopics”. They cant win (except for Oscar….). If they’re too spot on, with the mannerisms and voice, they’re just freaking “mimics”. If they’re off, dont look similar or sound the same, then they suck.

    Biopics are tricky as well, since it’s subject to comparison and (someone’s version) of history.

    Like Steve Jobs. Ya; he should be that nice….

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    Atypical
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    #196336

    This thread is thoughtful and perfectly fine. Thanks for making it, OP. I don’t think there is necessarily a bias over biopic characters vs. original characters with the Oscars. We just have to “accept” the Academy’s tastes as a whole, which tend to shift toward the prestige in established mimicry roles over original characterizations. That might become cyclical over time with habits changing as the Academy evolves. Some of my all-time favorite Oscar winners are for biopic roles. They had a perfect opportunity this year with an inspired original character from Michael Keaton in a film they adored. They completely blew it as it turns out, so maybe not lol.

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    CAROL-CHANNING
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    #196337

    I think a huge reason why bio-pic roles/performances of real people resonate with voters is because they start out with a lot of buzz to begin with.  It’s easier to get that nomination when you had buzz from the beginning.  And the reason why they start out with a lot of buzz is because everyone already knows that the character is going to be interesting.  Everone knows that Hawking/Thatcher/Ray Charles/Katharine Hepburn/Lincoln/Capote/etc were/are interesting human beings with a lot of drama in their life, so it would have been safe to assume that their roles would be award-worthy.  When it’s a character you don’t know, you have to wait until the movie comes out to see if the character is any good.  It’s only natural.

    But, no, I don’t think either type of performance is more worthy than the other.  Some actors find playing a real person easier, and some find emulating someone else who was a public figure to be challenging.  Every actor has a different set of skills. 

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    GhostOrchid
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    #196338

    I think a huge reason why bio-pic roles/performances of real people resonate with voters is because they start out with a lot of buzz to begin with.  It’s easier to get that nomination when you had buzz from the beginning.  And the reason why they start out with a lot of buzz is because everyone already knows that the character is going to be interesting.  Everone knows that Hawking/Thatcher/Ray Charles/Katharine Hepburn/Lincoln/Capote/etc were/are interesting human beings with a lot of drama in their life, so it would have been safe to assume that their roles would be award-worthy.  When it’s a character you don’t know, you have to wait until the movie comes out to see if the character is any good.  It’s only natural.

    But, no, I don’t think either type of performance is more worthy than the other.  Some actors find playing a real person easier, and some find emulating someone else who was a public figure to be challenging.  Every actor has a different set of skills. 

    Exactly. Great post.
    And it’s not that every biopic is automatically an awards guarantee. A lot have failed the last years, even with famous real persons.
    I think the more famous someone is, the harder it is to portray him or her, because everyone has already an opinion on this person. 
    Though I’m quite surprised to found out how much Jamie Foxx’s performance as Ray Charles is hated in the internet. I really like him and the movie.
    I wasn’t that impressed with DDL’s Abraham Lincoln. And it’s not a secret I like Meryl’s turn as Thatcher a lot. I just do.
    But I understand why people are getting “bored” with biopic winners. Since 1998, there has been no year without an acting win from a biopic. I think 2011 was the closest. Everywhere else there was already a predicted biopic winner.

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