Given its massive box office success and stellar reviews, could the new film “Logan” earn Patrick Stewart his career first Oscar nomination? The latest installment of the X-Men franchise finds the veteran actor reprising his role as Professor Charles Xavier to great acclaim from audiences and critics alike, which could be enough to propel him into the 2018 Best Supporting Actor race.
Directed by James Mangold, “Logan” finds Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine in a world without mutants, caring for his ailing surrogate father Dr. Xavier, whose mind has been ravaged by dementia. Several critics have applauded the actor’s nuanced performance, including Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter), who says, “Stewart is effortlessly compelling as a man whose attentiveness to the world around him runs deep, even as his own tethers to it are fraying.” Manohla Dargis (The New York Times) praises his “beautiful work,” while Tom Huddleston (Time Out) calls Stewart, “the film’s faltering heart, as a man reeling from the destruction of everything he worked a lifetime to build.”
Despite his decades-long career, Stewart has never been recognized by the academy. His three Golden Globe bids came for television roles (Movie/Mini Actor for “Moby Dick” in 1999, Movie/Mini Actor for “The Lion in Winter” in 2005, and TV Comedy Actor for “Blunt Talk” in 2016), so his film work has largely been ignored. He is also a four-time Emmy Award nominee for “Moby Dick,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Hamlet” (2010), and his comedy guest role on “Extras” (2006). His iconic role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” never brought him a nomination with either group.
Oscar voters have a long history of rewarding veteran actors with gold watch nominations. Look no further than Best Supporting Actor contender Sylvester Stallone, who was recognized for reprising his star-making role as Rocky Balboa in the 2015 movie “Creed.” Like Stallone, Stewart could benefit from once again playing one of his most iconic characters.
As well, the academy has occasionally looked past a film’s genre to acknowledge superb performances. Heath Ledger, in fact, won a posthumous Supporting Actor prize for his villainous turn as The Joker in another superhero saga, “The Dark Knight” (2008). Alec Guinness also contended in that category for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the sci-fi classic “Star Wars” (1977), while Ian McKellen cast a spell on voters as Gandalf the wizard in the first installment of the fantasy trilogy “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001).