Motion capture or not, Andy Serkis deserves consideration for the world’s most coveted golden statue.
Over the weekend I saw War for the Planet of the Apes in theaters and I’ve got to tell you it certainly lived up to the hype. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet seen War for the Planet of the Apes, do yourself a favor and close this page and drive to the nearest movie theater and see this movie. You’ll thank me later. Not only is it one the year’s best summer blockbusters, but it also makes the case for capping off what is possibly the best movie trilogy in recent memory (looking at you Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight trilogies).
But what makes the Apes trilogy so great is its lead actor Andy Serkis, who plays the infamous ape Caesar. While Serkis’s performances as Caesar have been motion captured, the visual effects wizards over at Weta Digital (who were also behind Avatar) have made Serkis’s portrayals of Caesar look so life-like, that you forget how technology played a role in bringing him, and all of his fellow the onscreen primates, to life.
Serkis’s portrayal of Caesar has evolved with every passing movie in this outstanding trilogy. And with War for the Planet of the Apes, one could make the argument that Serkis gives the best performance in a blockbuster movie since Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight; yes, it’s that good and that memorable. Part slow-burner, part war movie–and almost entirely from the viewpoint of the primates–War for the Planet of the Apes is so good thanks to Serkis’s portrayal of Caesar, who must grapple with saving his race while coping with a darkness growing within him. Countless times, the emotion Serkis emits as Caesar in War is so compelling that you will find yourself continually rooting against your own species right through the movie’s end.
That being said (along with the same universal buzz from critics everywhere), the question once again is this: Is it time to finally give Andy Serkis an Oscar?
Much of the discussion I’ve seen from Film Twitter is, “Give Serkis an honorary Oscar!” But why not just give him an Oscar for Best Actor instead? He certainly has earned one based on his performance in War for the Planet of the Apes alone. And motion capture or not, it’s as believable a performance as you’ll see in any other movie you watch this year–or have see in any other year, for that matter.
Fox made a strong Oscar campaign push for Serkis in the last Apes movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. And given how Fox’s only other Oscar contenders on paper right now seem to be Murder on the Orient Express and The Greatest Showman (both of which come out later this year), I hope the studio makes an even stronger campaign push for Serkis this time around.
As of now, Serkis easily leads the Best Actor field. Sure, we will get some serious contenders for Best Actor as we get closer to awards season, but the Academy (and other awards groups) should not overlook Serkis’s performance when the time comes to vote.
And as Comingsoon.net’s Associate Editor, Spencer Perry, tweeted yesterday, “The Academy should just give Serkis his Oscar now and not look like fools when they do it in 15 years.”
How many times has the Academy looked like fools, minus this year’s La La Land/Moonlight fiasco? I’ve lost count, but I haven’t lost hope that they will do the right thing–if for just this one time.