Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Leading Men

Today, I'll talk about half of the leading men in discussing the Leading Actor in a Play category.  (Not to worry -- I will discuss the musicals' leading men in another post in a few days).

Starting out on the non-musical side, there is a large number of potential nominees.  There are Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman from A Steady Rain and Bill Pullman of Oleanna, none of whom have any chance because of how poorly reviewed they were in their performances.  Any potential nominees from After Miss Julie or Brighton Beach Memoirs left the boards too long ago to be remembered.  Denzel Washington in Fences and possibly others from Next FallLend Me A Tenor and Lips Together, Teeth Apart may have a chance, but these will have to wait to be seen.  My thought right now, however, is that it would be difficult for any of them to compete with those already in the mix.  Then there are Michael Cerveris for In the Next Room ... or the Vibrator Play, James Spader in Race, Michael McKean from Superior Donuts, Christopher Walken in A Behanding in Spokane, and Jude Law from Hamlet who all gave much buzzed about performances that are, in my opinion, in the middle of the set.  Last, there are the sure things.  Liev Schreiber in A View From the Bridge, Present Laughter's Victor Garber, and Brian d'Arcy James in Time Stands Still.  These last three were singled out as absolutely outstanding by everyone I've spoken to about these shows, and the critical buzz for them was also quite high.

So, which of the middle pack am I picking for nominations?  I think that, for the remaining two slots, Michael Cerveris has little to no chance for two reasons.  1) Though he is a well respected Broadway veteran, he has already won a Tony, so there is no pressure to nominate him again this year.  2)  This performance was in a play that had only a luke warm reception and has long since closed -- it's not clear that anyone really will remember this one.  I also think that James Spader is an unlikely candidate for a nomination because, while he got a few good reviews and has the chance to be one of the few eligible performances still going come nomination time, he hasn't been singled out in any big way.

That leaves me with three potential nominees to fill the two remaining slots in this category -- Christopher Walken, Michael McKean, and Jude Law.  Christopher Walken has the advantage of being in a production that is more recent and that the nominators are more likely to remember, as well as the great respect the community has for him.  Law and McKean have the disadvantage of having starred in productions that closed, but both got good (but not great) reviews.  The last time that Hamlet played Broadway, it starred Ralph Feinnes, who ultimately won the Tony for the role of the great Dane.  I am not entirely sure how that will affect Law's chances of a nomination, especially considering that Feinnes is the only actor to have played Hamlet even to be nominated for a Tony -- and there have been eleven Broadway productions of the show since the Tonys first began in 1947.  Jude Law is by no means as well respected in the theater as he is in Hollywood, unlike Michael McKean, who has become a theater darling in the last few years with great performances in Hairspray, The Homecoming, and The Pajama Game (which scored him a supporting actor Tony nomination) under his belt.  Based on their respectability within the community, ultimately I think these last two slots will go to Walken and McKean, with Law and Spader in position to threaten these spots.  (This is a slight change from my previous predictions, which I am in the process of updating.  I will likely post my new predictions at the end of the week, by which point I expect to have processed some new information.)  This makes my list of predictions as follows:

Lead Actor in a Play
Brian d’Arcy James, Time Stands Still
Victor Garber, Present Laughter
Liev Schreiber, A View From the Bridge
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
Michael McKean, Superior Donuts
Major Threats: Jude Law, Hamlet, James Spader, Race

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