Song of the Day #3,854: ‘Black Eyes’ – Bradley Cooper

In a reversal from most years, the 2018 Best Actor race is far less competitive than that of Best Actress. I struggled to come up with ten names to consider for my personal list of the year’s best lead male performances.

Granted, I have yet to see several performances that have a good chance of cracking the lineup in this category, including the two frontrunners.

Here are the ones I’ve missed:

Christian Bale – Vice
Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
Ryan Gosling – First Man
Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

All of these have a shot at cracking the Oscar lineup (which is announced this morning, incidentally) and Bale and Malek will likely duke it out for the win.

The following actors made my shortlist but landed outside of the final five:

Chadwick Boseman – Black Panther
Boseman depicts Wakanda’s King T’Challa with grace, style and a whole lot of swagger.

Ben Foster – Leave No Trace
Foster dials down his usual craziness to play a haunted veteran unable to reenter society.

Paul Giamatti – Private Life
Paired with Kathryn Hahn, Giamatti does his harried schlubby intellectual thing with delightful, poignant results.

Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
Add another disturbed, repressed loner to Phoenix’s repertoire. Nobody does it better.

Lakeith Stanfield – Sorry to Bother You
Stanfield is wonderful in everything he does, and this gonzo satire gave him his meatiest and lead-iest role yet.

And here are my five finalists:

Jonathan Cho – Searching
This excellent mystery, told entirely through computer screens, was the unlikeliest great movie of the year. And it would not have worked without Jonathan Cho’s pitch-perfect performance. Casting vanity to the wind (the FaceTime camera isn’t exactly flattering), he depicts the desperation of a father trying to track down his missing daughter, but also the intelligence and creativity required to do it all from a laptop.

Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Unless the backlash is too strong, Cooper will likely be nominated for his writing and direction of A Star is Born, but the nod he most deserves is for his performance as spiraling alcoholic rock star Jackson Maine. Cooper changed his voice, his appearance, the way he carries his body. He even learned to play guitar and sing. The movie might be overrated but that isn’t due to his acting.

Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Hawke has always been one of my favorite actors, but he’s never delivered a performance as inward and haunted as his turn as Pastor Ernst Toller in Paul Schrader’s gripping First Reformed. The film has been compared to Taxi Driver, which Schrader wrote, and Hawke’s work is as crucial and sublime here as Robert De Niro’s was in that classic.

Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
Another film receiving its share of backlash, this one for being simultaneously a ‘white savior’ and ‘Magical Negro’ narrative. I get the criticisms but I don’t subscribe to them, in large part because of how fully Mortensen inhabits Tony Lip, the goombah chauffeur charged with driving a gifted Black pianist through the deep south in the 60s. The performance is broad, but I believed every minute.

Charlie Plummer – Lean On Pete
Plummer’s Charley Thompson moves through this film like a frightened animal, afraid of the next blow life will deal him. He bonds with the titular horse because he’s a kindred spirit. The movie goes to some unexpected places — Black Stallion this ain’t — and Plummer breaks your heart again and again on his path to salvation.

I would give the trophy to Ethan Hawke, who has been nominated for four Oscars (twice as a writer, twice as a supporting actor) but never won. It would be an acknowledgement of a wonderful, wide-ranging and stubbornly original career, and he also happens to have given the best performance.

Tomorrow: Best Supporting Actress

[Chorus 1]
Black eyes open wide
It’s time to testify
There’s no room for lies
And everyone’s waitin’ for you[Verse 1]
And I’m gone sittin’ by the phone and I’m all alone by the wayside
And I’m gone sittin’ by the phone and I’m all alone by the wayside[Refrain]
By the wayside
I’m by the wayside
I’m by the wayside

Too far gone and I’m by the phone
And I’m all alone and I’m awful lonely by the wayside

I’m by the wayside
I’m by the wayside
I’m by the wayside

By the wayside
By the wayside
By the wayside

I’m by the wayside
By the wayside
By the wayside

[Chorus 2]
Black eyes open wide
It’s time to testify
There’s no room for lies
And everyone’s waitin’ for you
Everyone’s lookin’ at you
Everyone’s lookin’ at you
Everyone’s waiting for you
Everyone’s waiting for you

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,854: ‘Black Eyes’ – Bradley Cooper

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    How have you not seen Bohemian Rhapsody? Such a good movie and Malik arguably deserves to win the Oscar. Hedges, Cho and Mortensen deserve noms, but, of those, I think Mortensen is the only one with a shot. Cho would be the happiest surprise for me.

  2. Peg says:

    I only have two words Viggo Mortensen

  3. Maddie says:

    I definitely have some movies to catch up on based on your personal nominations! And I’m definitely the most upset about Ethan Hawke’s total snub this morning, because he should have had the crown. Here’s my ideal list:

    Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting (he’d probably win)
    Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
    John Cho – Searching
    Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible
    Evan Peters – American Animals

  4. Amy says:

    My list would include Malek, Mortensen, Cho, and Hedges. The last spot? I’m intrigued by Maddie’s selection of both Cruise and Diggs. I couldn’t get past Cooper’s attempt to impersonate Kris Kristofferson (just made me want to return to the original performance), but I think I’d go withStanfield, who had a whole lot to balance in that movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.