Patrick Stewart is a Hollywood legend, best known to fans for portraying two beloved roles: Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Professor Charles Xavier in Fox's X-Men franchise. He's a household name, a Shakespearian actor whose skill and aplomb has become legendary over the last 30 years.
But here's the strange thing. For all of Stewart's inarguable skill, he's not once been nominated for an Oscar.
The Genre Problem Could Be Overcome
Part of the issue is that Stewart is best known for genre roles, starring in science-fiction and superhero franchises. Of course, there's a lot more to Stewart than that. Still, the exciting thing is that the Oscars seem to be changing. Back in 2008, the late Heath Ledger was awarded a posthumous Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight. Every year since seems to see discussion about whether or not a given superhero film will triumph in the Oscars, and this year the buzz is about Wonder Woman and Logan, albeit for very different reasons. Fox is clearly optimistic about Logan, sending screeners to Academy voters and sending the Logan team to screenings and Q&As.
The reality is that Logan was a unique film, a character-driven movie that really demanded the most from its cast. The script gave Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart each chances to shine, most notably in a seven-minute dialogue-heavy scene that's unique among superhero films. Delighted, Jackman told The Hollywood Reporter that the level of depth and drama in that one scene was probably more than either actor had to work with in all the other #XMen movies combined. "I think it's just fun watching a thoroughbred like Patrick Stewart gallop," he noted, "and with the great scenes that he got to really show everything he can do."
Jackman's assessment is right. The Charles Xavier of Logan was very different than anything Stewart has played before. Envisioned as an elderly genius suffering from a degenerative brain disease, this version of Charles Xavier was a wounded soul who struggled to cope with the tragedy of what his own powers had done. As director James Mangold observed, "Patrick attacked this thing with ferocity. He was fearless about playing Charles's weaknesses as well as his strengths."
The Hollywood Reporter's interview is fascinating, in that it's clear the Logan cast and crew are united in hoping Stewart will win an Oscar for this film. That's particularly remarkable, given this was billed as Hugh Jackman's swan song in the franchise, and also featured a commanding performance from child actor Dafne Keen. There's no trace of ego involved, with franchise producer Hutch Parker reflecting that he can't quite believe Stewart hasn't netted an Oscar before now.
That said, let's be clear that Logan still faces a lot of challenges. As Parker noted:
"I'm realistic about the kind of movie this is, and I'm hopeful that various people in those positions will see it and recognize it — even though it is an R-rated movie, and even though it has a legacy as part of a comic book franchise. I'd love for people to be able to assess the craft on the performances and the work on their own merits."
Both the rating and the genre nature of the film work against it. Still, if any superhero film can rightly earn an Oscar, it's Logan. The fact that #PatrickStewart has, so far, gone unrecognized by the Oscars is staggering. It's surely now time to correct that.
Do you think Patrick Stewart deserves an Oscar for Logan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]