Colin Farrell shouldn't win the Oscar this year
Before you all lose your minds, hear me out...
Colin Farrell had an AMAZING year in 2022. Working from the release dates in Ireland and the UK, he had After Yang, The Batman, Thirteen Lives and The Banshees Of Inisherin, which should be commended for maybe being the greatest 12 months in any one performers' career.
It is for his performance in that latter movie that he won the Best Actor Golden Globe, and is currently in the running to win the Best Actor Oscar. His performance as heartbroken bestie Pádraic Súilleabháin is absolutely stellar, and should he win the Oscar this year it isn't as if it would be undeserving, but allow me to explain why he shouldn't win the Academy Award this year.
Mapping out his earlier career, it is clear that Hollywood was never quite sure what to do with him. A very handsome man, he seemed like he would work well within the blockbuster machine, but the results were varying. Some were good-to-great (Minority Report, Phone Booth) and some were average-to-flat out bad (The Recruit, S.W.A.T., Daredevil, Total Recall).
His initial outings in non-blockbuster fare were also more miss than hit: Alexander, Pride and Glory, The New World, The Way Back, A Home At The End of the World, Dead Man Down. But these movies were all very much within the norm of the Hollywood machine, obvious attempts to recapture the previous glories of particular thriller and drama hits.
It was only when Farrell purposefully leaned fully into his own inner weirdo that his career fully ignited, while maintaining the same sexy allure that made him so appealing in the first place. Even if the films weren't always great, he was always great in them: Fright Night, The Lobster, Horrible Bosses, The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Fantastic Beasts, Widows, The Gentlemen. In each of those movies, his performance shone as one of the highlights, and both his performances and the roles that he has chosen only continue to get more and more interesting.
And so we get to The Banshees Of Inisherin, a movie that also fully leans into its inherent oddness - the entire thing plays out like a particularly disturbed allegory, or the original twisted version of what would eventually become a much-more-watered down tale you tell children.
Again, in case there was any confusion, Farrell is tremendous in the movie, but it probably isn't even his best performance, as that currently still stands within The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. Considering his recent career trajectory, this absolutely should not be the only time he'll be ever nominated for Best Actor. Without wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves, his next movie - Love Child, from the director of controversial dramas Happiness and Welcome To The Dollhouse - could potentially see him nominated again for the 2024 Oscars.
Plus, Farrell obviously isn't the only deciding factor in this debate...
Aside from Farrell, the other nominees include two actors that almost definitely won't win - Bill Nighy for his role in Living, and (sorry) Paul Mescal for Aftersun - and then two actors that represent genuine threats to Farrell's chances - Austin Butler for Elvis, and Brendan Fraser for The Whale.
Butler could be in with a dark horse-esque shot, mostly because (A) Hollywood loves biopics, and (B) regardless of how much you liked or loathed Elvis, there is no denying that Butler was really, REALLY good in it, and (C) the votes for Fraser and Farrell could cancel each other out and give Butler the edge... But if that isn't the case, then we can see Fraser winning, and not only that, but properly deserving the win.
We've written before about the one-two punch of physical damage caused by stunts going wrong and revealing an alleged incident where he was the victim of sexual assault, and how that essentially derailed Fraser's career for years on end, resulting in him not appearing on screen at all between 2013 and 2019.
But now he has returned, and with his first leading role in over a decade, not only he has landed critical acclaim, but the full support of Hollywood and its audiences. The Whale sees him playing an obese man trying to reconnect with his long lost daughter, and while the movie in general isn't exceptional, his performance is. Fraser absolutely loses himself in this performance, absolutely tearing your heart out portraying a man ruined by self-imposed guilt, fully physicalising his particular character. All this by the guy that most folk only know as the actor from The Mummy movies.
Yes, director Darren Aronofsky is essentially giving the same critical resurgence to Fraser that he gave to the also-perceived-to-be-washed-up Mickey Rourke for the equally physical and emotional testing lead role in 2008's The Wrestler. And yes, the claims that the movie contains fatphobia are true, but in the way that fatphobia very much does exist in the real world, and is so very rarely tackled this bluntly in cinema.
Overall, it comes down to this: The Banshees Of Inisherin's nomination represents an actor near the start of his new career path, where as The Whale's nomination represents an actor at the start of his career reclamation. Farrell will get nominated again, for sure, and if this is what he's capable of so early in this new trajectory, just imagine what else might be on his horizon. But comebacks like Fraser's don't happen very often, and if for nothing else - and within this performance, there is so much else - he absolutely deserves to win.
The Banshees Of Inisherin is available to watch right now on Disney+, The Whale arrives in cinemas in Ireland and the UK on Friday, 3 February, and this year's Oscars ceremony will take place on Sunday, 12 March.