While much of the talk about “Concussion” has been about Will Smith’s stand-out performance as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist who first discovered the football-related brain injury CTE, equal attention should be paid to Albert Brooks’ turn as Omalu’s friend and mentor, Dr. Cyril Wecht. The beloved funnyman, who shaved his head for the role, could reap his second Oscar bid almost three decades after contending for “Broadcast News.”
Yes, Brooks does land some big laughs in “Concussion.” But he also has a chance to score with some great dramatic moments opposite Smith. And he has several juicy scenes to chew on that display his signature quick wit, such as when the FBI raids his office in an attempt to dissuade Omalu from proceeding further with his claims against the NFL.
It’s the kind of stand-out performance that brought Brooks awards recognition for “Broadcast News” and “Drive.” And he’s got the reviews to back him up too. Stephen Farber (Hollywood Reporter) says the actor “comes close to stealing the movie” while Sean Gregory (Time) says he can “deliver a little levity to balance the dour subject matter.”
Brooks got his start as a standup in the 1970s before turning to acting with Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” (1976). Besides appearing in other people’s movies, he wrote, directed and starred in “Modern Romance” (1981), “Lost in America” (1985), “Defending Your Life” (1991) and “Mother” (1996).
While he lost that 1987 Oscar race to Sean Connery in “The Untouchables,” his cachet as a serious actor was established. Indeed, he was expected to reap an Oscar bid in 2011 for his villainous turn in “Drive.” However, despite wins from the New York and National Society of Film Critics as well as nominations at the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirits and BFCA, he was snubbed by Oscar voters in favor of Max Von Sydow (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”).
Brooks is already generating Oscar buzz based on both his performance and his winning wins at the Q&As that follow industry screenings of “Concussion.” Do you think he will be nominated for Best Supporting Actor?
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Photo: Courtesy of Columbia