Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Is it Dern versus Douglas for best actor?

Two veteran American actors look set to fight it out for a Cannes award.

Thu, May 23, 2013, 15:56


Maybe not. But it does not seem so unlikely that Bruce Dern, star of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, and Michael Douglas, who plays Liberace in Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, will be in the jury’s mind when it comes time to decide on best actor. In Nebraska, Dern plays an old-timer (duh?) travelling across country in a misguided attempt to turn in one of those letters claiming the recipient has won $1 million. You know what Douglas does in Behind the Candelabra and he does it very well.

Though this has been a pretty good Cannes, not many of the competition films hang around mind-bending central performances. Ryan Gosling is in nearly every scene of Only God Forgives, but it’s a fairly blank performance. Soulémane Démé is good in Grisgris, but it’s another low-key performance.

No, unless something bites our head off in the next two days, I think it’s the 76-year-old Dern versus the 69-year-old Douglas. My money is on Michael. The jury will be aware that — made for HBO — Behind the Candelabra is not eligible for the Oscars. A Cannes award would be a nice compensation prize. Let’s face it. Dern’s part in Nebraska — the rugged old-timer with Alzheimer’s — is the sort that always picks up Oscar love.

Here’s the thing. A convention states that the Palme d’Or winner cannot pick up any major acting award. So, if Nebraska or Behind the Candelabra were to come out on top, our dream scenario falls apart. I don’t see it. Both were well received, but neither has the oomph of a Cannes winner. If they want to hand it to an American film then the Coens Inside Llewyn Davis is waiting (also note that film is not really a serious player in any of the acting races).

Keep your eyes on this place — and the paper — for our review of Nebraska. As we head into the weekend, Screenwriter will again be awash with notices. Keep reading.