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2 items from 2008

Ledger's Co-stars Predict Oscar Glory

3 July 2008 9:15 AM, PDT | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Gary Oldman have tipped late actor Heath Ledger to win an Oscar for his role in The Dark Knight.

Ledger's Batman co-stars predict he will win over critics with his performance as The Joker at next year's Academy Awards - which will be held just over a year after his tragic death.

Bale, who stars as Batman in the forthcoming movie, says, "A lot of people talk about awards all the time, and it's early days. But if anybody deserves it, of course, it is Heath in this.

"I do think that Heath has created an iconic villain that will stand for the ages, and of course, I would love to see him get an award. But you know, to me, you can witness his talent, celebrate his talent within this movie. Anything else is gravy."

He adds, "Heath has done a phenomenal enough job that I would not be surprised (if he won)."

Fellow co-star Gyllenhaal, whose brother Jake starred with Ledger in 2005's Brokeback Mountain, tells, "He hit it in the entire performance (in Batman).

"It's so difficult to do that in a huge movie like this and much easier to do in the tiny movies. That's why those are always the people who win Academy Awards.

"Heath was (amazing); it's so unusual, and it happens really rarely even for the best actors, that you just hit this stride in a role and you're totally free. And when that happens, you can do no wrong. It's incredible to be around, and that's what it was like with him."

And Oldman adds, "I think it's an incredible performance. I think it sets a new benchmark. It would surprise me if he didn't get a posthumous Oscar for it."

Only seven actors have received posthumous Oscar nominations, including Spencer Tracy for 1967's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and James Dean, who was nominated twice after his death for 1955's East Of Eden and 1956's Giant.

Ledger was found dead from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in his New York apartment in January. »

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'Wall-E' bow kicks off Oscar season

25 June 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

With Pixar's newest blue-chip animated movie Wall-E hitting theaters Friday, the 2008 Oscar race is finally off and running.

It's an unofficial starting gun, of course. Technically, any movie that's had a commercial release of at least a week in Los Angeles County since the start of the year is eligible to compete. But the first half of the year rarely yields much in the way of Oscar fodder, and this year has been no exception.

May's Festival de Cannes didn't do much to clarify the situation, either: Several promising foreign films aside, only Clint Eastwood's Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, emerged as a mainstream contender.

Most of the remaining summer popcorn fare isn't generally regarded as Oscar worthy, though if critics and fans applaud Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight when it is released July 18, Warner Bros. is ready to support a campaign on his behalf. Only one acting Oscar has been bestowed posthumously -- to Peter Finch for 1976's Network -- but five others have been nominated in the wake of their deaths, including James Dean, who earned noms for East of Eden and Giant.

But while Oscar strategists are marking time, waiting for the fall festival circuit to launch a wave of hopefuls, the animation race has begun to take shape.

The critics are just beginning to weigh in on Wall-E -- the Village Voice's Robert Wilonsky has already called it "both breathtakingly majestic and heartbreakingly intimate" -- but the buzz surrounding the film about a lovelorn robot already is so heady, there's no doubt it will be the movie to beat for best animated film. The bigger question is whether it might become a candidate for a best picture slot.

At one point last year, director Brad Bird wanted to position his Ratatouille in the best picture heat, but he was convinced to focus on the best animated film category, which it handily won while also picking up noms in four other categories. »

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