by William Goss
Here we are, covering the penultimate category on the penultimate day before the Big Show. Best Actor is filled with fine candidates, but it seems that last year's ceremony will have a hand in guiding this year's voters to even the keel.
Jeff Bridges did damn fine work in Crazy Heart, but it was generally accepted that his win served as sort of a lifetime achievement award honoring his career up until that point -- a mentality which came to overshadow Colin Firth's perfectly played performance in A Single Man. Now: Bridges finds himself nominated for even finer work in True Grit, but is due to be passed over in favor of Firth's triumphant-by-design turn in The King's Speech.
The whole re-match factor seems to leave James Franco, Javier Bardem and Jesse Eisenberg out in the cold. Franco's riveting performance salvaged 127 Hours from Danny Boyle's utter refusal to sit still for a second, Bardem's burden-bearing in Biutiful couldn't save that film from its excessive sense of misery, and Eisenberg's tragicomic detachment is as critical a component as any to The Social Network's success.
To maintain the refrain, Firth is just Fine in a Nice Movie, all stammer and vulnerability and eventual confidence, but I'd just as soon see Franco, Eisenberg or Bridges take it home. If I had to vote for one [EDITOR'S NOTE: that's how these things generally work], I'd pull for the young but deserving Eisenberg.