2012 Calvin Awards: Best Actor
By Reagen Sulewski
February 16, 2012
This year's group of Best Actor choices for the Calvins is filled with familiar names and BOP favorites (including another visit from our most-honored actor ever), along with a few who you can predict will make their way back to this list many times in the future. And then there's our runaway winner, who we likely wouldn't have been able to pick out of a police lineup before the start of the year. Our streak of no repeat winners continues in this category, so my advice to our winner is enjoy this now – cause you're probably never getting back here again.
That actor is Jean Dujardin, the star of The Artist, who won by a 30% margin over second place, and earned one full third of the first place votes, which is remarkable given the typical diversity of this group. In case you haven't heard by this point, he did this in a – get this! – silent film, robbing all the usual vocal skills that actors have used for the last 80 or so years on film. Although there's plenty of the silent film “acting” that we've come to associated with those old films, Dujardin portrays so much on film as a man whose world and way of life is crumbling around him. As that bitterness turns to barely concealed rage, Dujardin maintains his outward star persona as a way of holding on to the past. It's a crazy basket of emotions to be carrying around, but Dujardin never loses his way.
The runner-up spot goes to George Clooney in The Descendants, who should probably get a restraining order against us already. This is his eighth top ten finish in an acting category, and when combined with his directing and screenplay “nominations” in past years, brings him to 11 total. While Clooney often plays the big movie star role (it's easy to see him subbing into The Artist, for instance), this role has him far more low key as a husband dealing with tragedy and betrayal, and learning that his comfy life hasn't been what he thought it was. While he's portrayed the broken man before (Syriana, Michael Clayton), it's the more mundane that's destroyed him here, and that's what makes this performance all the more devastating.
A close third sees Clooney's usual partner in crime Brad Pitt from Moneyball as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane. At first glance, there may not appear to be much going on with this performance, as Pitt's Beane isn't given to histrionics or big speeches. But as a man who's had so much fail him, he's turned inwards to nearly everything in his life, save his young daughter. The quiet determination he shows in every scene, in an attempt to prove to the world what he *knows* is right only hits you as the movie draws to a close, when he finally realizes how secondary that is to the rest of his life. What this quest has cost him shows up in stark contrast on Pitt's face, and it's truly a performance that must be taken as a whole.