Michael Keaton already has three SAG Awards on his mantel, but he has yet to win for an individual performance. Instead, his trophies all came for being in the winning film ensembles of “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Might Keaton’s poignant performance in “Dopesick” finally be his ticket to an individual victory? His co-nominees at the Screen Actors Guild are Evan Peters (“Mare of Easttown”), Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”), Ewan McGregor (“Halston”) and Oscar Isaac (“Scenes from a Marriage”). Read on for my four reasons why I think Keaton should make room in his trophy case for his starring role in the Hulu limited series.
He makes you cry
For audiences who grew up watching Keaton as “Batman,” “Beetlejuice” and “Mr. Mom,” the idea that he would one day have them in tears playing a country doctor who becomes addicted to OxyContin seems far-fetched. But that’s exactly what happened. Keaton’s character, Dr. Samuel Finnix, starts out as initially hesitant to the new drug that’s being pitched to him by sales rep Billy Cutler (Will Poulter). But years later, after he’s administered the drug following a car accident, the doctor becomes patient zero for the opioid crisis that’s sweeping the nation. In one of the program’s more gut-wrenching scenes, Finnix hits rock bottom and contemplates suicide. Thankfully, he discovers a new lease on life by helping his former patients get treatment for their own addictions.
He gets redeemed
Dr. Samuel Finnix is the type of character awards voters go crazy for — someone complicated with three-dimensional depth, who makes mistakes but ultimately finds redemption. By the time the final credits role, viewers want to reach through their screens and give Keaton a hug for his delivery of this truly against-type role. His co-nominees at the SAG Awards give equally worthy performances, but their characters — Peters’ young detective, Bartlett’s hotel manager, McGregor’s clothing designer, Isaac’s stay-at-home husband — simply don’t have the same full-circle redemptive arc as Keaton’s small town doc.
He’s a movie star
Oftentimes at awards shows, it’s the most famous and respected person who ends up walking off with the trophy. Just look at some of the A-listers who’ve prevailed recently in this specific SAG Award category for TV movie/limited series actors: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”), Sam Rockwell (“Fosse/Verdon”), Idris Elba (“Luther”), Ruffalo again (“The Normal Heart”), Michael Douglas (“Behind the Candelabra”), Kevin Costner (“Hatfields & McCoys”), Al Pacino (“You Don’t Know Jack”), etc. That list is a veritable who’s-who of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. This year, it’s 70-year-old Keaton who fills that veteran movie star role.
He’s got a SAG IOU
As mentioned above, Keaton has already claimed three SAG Awards for starring in ensemble winners “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” But he lost his two prior individual bids for “Birdman” (to Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything”) and “The Company” (to Kevin Kline for “As You Like It”). The “Birdman” year, in particular, was seen as an upset for Keaton as he was the odds-on front-runner to win the trophy. In other words, he’s still holding a hypothetical “IOU” card from the actors guild. Might it finally be time to cash it in?
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