The Best Actor hopefuls gathered over the weekend at the Governors Awards, but don’t forget about Bill Nighy, the dark horse of the race. He appeared via video at a For Your Consideration event hosted by Baz Bamigboye for the Deadline Contenders series over the weekend (also present was director Oliver Hermanus).
Nighy stars in Living, an English-language adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film, Ikiru (which is loosely based on Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich). Living is written by Kazuo Ishiguro, so it comes with a heavy-duty prestige lineage. The film is already out in the UK, and is coming to North America, in limited fashion, on December 23. It’s earning high praise, with Nighy, particularly, singled out for his performance. The Best Actor race is already a three-way heat between Austin Butler, Brendan Fraser, and Colin Farrell, but Nighy is favored to be among the nominees.
The trailer for Living came out Friday, and maybe it’s because Wakanda Forever picked at a scab or because I also watched The Last Unicorn over the weekend and that movie always makes me cry, but even just the TRAILER for Living got to me. As in Tolstoy’s story and Kurosawa’s film, Living centers on a mid-level career bureaucrat who is faced with his own mortality and seeks to spend one day “living” after realizing he’s spent his life merely existing. Nighy has always had a greatly expressive face, even buried under a CG octopus as Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he projects plenty of menace and a sly sense of humor, and just his sad-eyed expression in this trailer is enough to bury me.
Nighy has always been an underappreciated actor. Who can forget his indelible performance as the lovable rake Billy Mack in Love Actually? Or his charmingly daffy turn as Mr. Woodhouse in Emma.? And this is barely scratching the surface of his career! The Constant Gardner, State of Play, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Notes on a Scandal, About Time, bringing a sense of dignity to the Underworld movies—the man has range. He also has a couple of BAFTAs (including, somewhat hilariously, one for Love Actually) and a Tony nomination, but he has no Oscar nominations. That’s right: zero. None. A big ole goose egg. I don’t expect anyone, not even a well-respected actor like Nighy, can upset the trifecta at the top of the standings, but for Bill Nighy, the nomination would be the win. Will Living finally put him over the top?