Monday, January 22, marks the 10-year anniversary of Heath Ledger’s death. The 28-year-old actor’s bright, burgeoning career was cut short by an accidental prescription drug overdose, just six months before “The Dark Knight” hit theaters.
Ledger, of course, earned raves for his indelible turn as The Joker in the second film of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy and would dominate the Best Supporting Actor race the whole season, pulling off a clean sweep of the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and Oscar. Coincidentally, he received his Oscar nomination on the one-year anniversary of his death (he died on Oscar nomination day as well). When he won a month later, his parents, Kim Ledger and Sally Bell, and sister Kate Ledger accepted on his behalf before a tearful crowd, who gave a sustained standing ovation.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank the academy for recognizing our son’s amazing work,” his father said. “This award tonight would’ve humbly validated Heath’s quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here — his peers — within an industry he so loved.”
Ledger, who was previously nominated in lead for “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), became the second performer to win a posthumous acting Oscar after Peter Finch (“Network” ). He beat Josh Brolin (“Milk”), Robert Downey Jr. (“Tropic Thunder”), Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Doubt”). Tragically, Hoffman, who had defeated Ledger three years prior with his seminal performance in “Capote,” died in 2014 at 46 from a drug overdose.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.