Over on Twitter at the moment, there’s a campaign mobilising to get actor Sam Rockwell an Oscar nomination for his stunning central performance in Moon.
The Oscar Gods, though, aren’t looking too kindly on him right now. Firstly, his performance was in a science fiction film, which is hardly the genre to send Academy voters off to their ballot forms with a spring in their steps. Secondly, his performance was in a very, very low budget film, which is no unscaleable obstacle in itself, but it certainly adds a bit of a boss level to an already tricky mission. And thirdly, right now Moon has racked up a box office take of just over $7m worldwide, of which just shy of $5m came in via America.
Now, we could at this stage let this article segue into a rant about how someone delivers a hugely interesting, very strong piece of science fiction cinema and everyone goes off to see Transformers instead, but there’s a time and a place for that. Because the fact still remains that, given Moon’s very low budget, by the time DVD and Blu-ray sales have been factored in, it’s going to be a film firmly in the green when the final Excel spreadsheet is submitted. And if that gets director Duncan Jones the keys to make his next film, and leaves us with Moon on our shelves to get us through the cold winter nights, then that’s hard to grumble about.
Still, if ever an actor needed an old-style Weinstein-esque Oscar campaign to thrust him firmly into the Academy’s eye, it was Sam Rockwell. But could Twitter help do the job for him? Right now, the odds are hardly stacked in his and Moon‘s favour. But here’s the main reason why he should get an Oscar nomination for Moon: his performance was flat out brilliant. That’s presumably still the key criteria, at least in theory, for getting a nod. And appreciating the Academy will eventually nominate five individuals for Best Actor, I defy you to come up with five performances this year thus far that exceed what Rockwell put on the screen with Moon.
Now granted, I’m tiptoeing around just why Rockwell was so brilliant in Moon, and I’m doing that because I appreciate that many people haven’t seen the film, and I don’t want to be the one that spoils it for them. As such, if you scroll right to the bottom of the article, you’ll find our reasons why Rockwell should be getting the nod. But don’t say you weren’t warned, as Moon really is a film best enjoyed cold.
What’s going to be interesting now is whether a small, grassroots campaign can help take Rockwell over the line, or at the very least interest enough Academy voters to pick up a disc and give the film a try. As things stand, Twitterers are being encouraged to add a ‘Twibbon’ to their page here, while over at the official webpage of the makers of Moon, they’re urging people to pass on the message. Furthermore, an online petition has been set up that – at the time of writing – stands at 1,390 signatures. The target? One million, and realistically, it’s those kind of numbers that suddenly put traction behind an Oscar campaign.
This is a big, difficult goal. Sam Rockwell’s work in Moon doesn’t fit the usual profile of a Best Actor winner, but this is one case where the work itself more than justifies his inclusion. While we’re here, we might also add that Duncan Jones, the film’s director, is surely also deserving of some recognition here. His taut direction on the film, and his clever playing with sci-fi conventions, made for some of the very best cinema of the year.
For now, though, the focus is on Mr Rockwell, and if you’d like to sign that petition, and to help see if an Internet campaign can really compete with umpteen parties, expensive adverts in the Hollywood trade press and many, many hours of schmoozing, you can find it right here.
Mr Rockwell and Mr Jones? We hope, come this time next year, you both have Oscar gold on your mantelpieces.
SPOILERS FOR MOON BELOW
Here are just a few reasons why Rockwell deserves that nod:
* Some actors take on multiple roles in a film as a gimmick (hi Eddie!). In Moon, it’s absolutely integral that Rockwell pulls it off, and fuses each version of his character with differing, albeit overlapping personality traits. Seriously: go back and watch the film. The man absolutely nails it, without showboating, and leaves you absolutely believing what’s happening on the screen. Going back to the core of the job of acting, surely that’s a significant chunk of what it’s all about.
* Even when focusing on just one version of his character, he puts in award-worthy work. I was left in no doubt that his character was isolated, lonely and struggling. This was no movie star at work. This was an actor, and a brilliant one at that.
* Rockwell brilliantly understates things. Seriously: picture someone like Pacino in the same role. Al Pacino is a brilliant, brilliant actor, but sooner or later, there’s going to be an Al-rant coming. Such a delicate film as Moon can’t afford something like that to happen. Rockwell’s layered work here fits the film like a proverbial glove.
* Just look at the range of what the man has to pull off. He has to convey a man of different ages, someone at both the start and end of one of the toughest work assignments you can imagine, someone gradually realising what’s going on, and then someone who doesn’t really believe or trust him. It’s a fascinating piece of screen acting, and the scenes where he’s acting against himself are seamless in pretty much every sense.
* And while we’re here: Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. Seriously, the man has award recognition long overdue.
Good luck, Mr Rockwell…