Dear Gossips,

You know what award season is good for? Contrasts. People are campaigning, everyone has their own campaign strategy. So from October to the Oscars, we get to see these plans play out, side by side, in real time – an off-screen performance that supports the onscreen performance. 

Joker is opening this week. To promote the film and his own Oscar chances, Joaquin Phoenix has been junketing, making talk show appearances, and covering Vanity Fair. As I posted yesterday, it’s the most insightful interview he’s given in years, maybe ever. Whether or not that piece actually helps him remains to be seen. But he’s not the only one in the race. 

Before Joker premiered in Venice and started building momentum, Antonio Banderas was the early Best Actor Oscar frontrunner for his work in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory. His performance in this film has been universally acclaimed. Cannes named him Best Actor back in May. And on the same day that Joaquin Phoenix’s Vanity Fair cover story was released, Antonio’s interview with GQ was published.

Interestingly Antonio and Joaquin’s current perspectives are quite similar. Joaquin tells VF that “I f-cking love my life”. Antonio, who had a heart attack a couple of years ago, is also talking about how much he f-cking loves his life and during the last few months of press for Pain and Glory, he has discussed at length how thinking about death compelled him to rethink about how he has lived and how he wants to live. The film too is a meditation on mortality and the mistakes of youth, on legacy and what there is to leave behind. It’s a narrative that veteran members of the Academy usually can’t resist – and by an auteur director too; but whether or not they actually see Pain and Glory will be another question that we’ll probably be coming back to in the next few months. 


That said, right now, if it’s between Antonio and Joaquin, while they’re both presenting a newly discovered introspection, the contrast between the two remains. Over on one side, Joaquin’s telling Vanity Fair that from “a very young age, I had an allergy to—what’s the word?—to just frivolous, meaningless kids’ stuff” in the roles that he chooses, and if you’ve watched his work over his career, you know exactly what that means, seeing him play one tortured obsessive after another; and on the other, Antonio’s talking to GQ about what Puss in Boots meant to him. 

A king, indeed. But the thing is, Hollywood usually eats up that other sh-t, the kind that Joaquin’s all about. Like Serious, with a capital “S”. See also Leonardo DiCaprio. Of course they’re going to have a raging boner over Joker. But can he keep it up until February? 

Yours in gossip,