Delroy Lindo’s reunion with Spike Lee for ‘Da 5 Bloods’ will bring him his first Oscar nomination

Since he began his film acting career over 40 years ago, Delroy Lindo has steadily built a reputation as a well-respected and experienced performer. He has worked with such directors as Ron Howard, Tony Scott, and Danny Boyle, but his collaborations with Spike Lee have proven to be the most fruitful. His prominent roles in three of Lee’s films (“Malcolm X,” “Crooklyn,” and “Clockers”) boosted his profile in the industry and attracted the attention of several critics groups in the 1990s, including the National Society of Film Critics.

Earlier this month, the NSFC gave Lindo their Best Actor award for his work in the Netflix release “Da 5 Bloods,” which reunited him with Lee after 25 years. The performance also won him the New York Film Critics Circle award and a dozen more nominations from critics groups to date. After decades of putting in the work, all signs point to Lindo receiving his first Oscar nomination for what K. Austin Collins (Vanity Fair) calls “a career-high in a career full of them.”

“Da 5 Bloods” tells the story of four Vietnam War veterans who return to the country in search of a trove of gold and the remains of their squad leader, both of which they buried there almost 50 years prior. Lindo stands out as Paul, whose overly abrasive attitude and hair-trigger temper make him the leader of the group by virtue of intimidation. He is also the one whose mental state was most severely affected by the war and its aftermath, and thus has the weightiest emotional reaction upon returning. David Sims (The Atlantic) cites his performance as “the pulsing center” of the film.

Lindo is afforded an abundance of moments to shine throughout the 156-minute film. He embodies Paul as a turbulent force of nature, constantly at odds with his more politically correct friends and son, as well as his own inner demons. The skilled actor expertly conveys Paul’s deep-rooted feelings of paranoia and dejection, illustrating the film’s themes and providing, in the words of Matt Singer (ScreenCrush), “what will be remembered as one of the definitive portrayals of a man succumbing to the horrors of war.”

SEE 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Though he has over 40 film credits to his name, Lindo has never been given such a layered leading role, nor has he ever received adulation at this level. Over the years, his work has been recognized across all mediums, having earned nominations for a Tony, two Critics Choice Television Awards, and two SAG Awards (in the Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture category). Still, he has had virtually no wins to show for it, which makes the ever-growing amount he has garnered so far for “Da 5 Bloods” particularly special. 

In addition to his NSFC and NYFCC wins, Lindo has been honored by critics groups in Boston, Hawaii, Indiana, and North Carolina. Critics prizes do not always translate to wins at the televised industry awards. But Lindo has clearly disproved the idea that, since “Da 5 Bloods” was released in June, his performance would be forgotten by now. He has momentum and we predict that he will compete for the first time at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and, ultimately, the Oscars.

Were he to win the Oscar, this 68-year-old Brit be the second-oldest actor to triumph in the Best Actor category after Henry Fonda, who was 76 at the time of his win for “On Golden Pond” in 1982. Including Fonda, only a dozen actors older than Lindo have been nominated for the award. Only two of these had, like Lindo, never been nominated before: 71-year-old Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”) in 2009 and 72-year-old Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”) in 2020.

As of now, Lindo ranks fourth in our Best Actor race with 5/1 odds.  His “Da Five Bloods” costar Chadwick Boseman is in first place for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” with 17/5 odds, followed by Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) at 4/1 and Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) with 5/1 odds.

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