George Clooney has lost Oscar races before. In the past decade, he’s been passed over four times (twice for Best Actor and once apiece for Best Director and Best Screenplay). While he has reigned atop the pyramid of Hollywood glamour as perhaps the most critically praised, most well-liked mainstream actor currently working, Clooney’s trophy case boasts a lone statuette in the leading man’s consolation prize category of Best Supporting Actor (for Syriana).
This year, however, was to have been his. Clooney’s rich and nuanced performance in the critically-lauded film The Descendants earned him raves across the board. Not only that, at the race’s open, the Best Actor field was seen as the weakest of the major categories. Fellow It’s-Their-Turners were up for parts in movies that were perceived as either too light (Moneyball for Brad Pit) or outright disasters (J. Edgar for Leonardo DiCaprio). And so, by Christmas, a consensus had settled among the Oscar punditry that the prize was Clooney’s for the asking–game over, hand the Oscar to George.
A month and a half later, Clooney is the odds on favorite to lose. To a Frenchman whose name even now is unknown to most of Earth, who gave a mannered, non-vocal performance. As the Oscar ballots are being counted, Jean Dujardin is the heavy favorite to win the Best Actor prize. Clooney’s sensitive, complex performance seems like to join his growing list of also-rans in Oscar’s eyes.
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