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Heath Ledger, the Joker and Oscar hype

TheJoker.jpgYou know the more and more I hear about this talk of Heath Ledger being in the running for an Oscar for his role as Joker in The Dark Knight, before anyone has really seen the film, the more I'm getting uncomfortable about the whole situation.

What's making it worse is seeing a second batch of different interviews with the cast where they are all talking about how amazing and impressive Ledger was on set, and saying nothing else about the film or their own roles.

One of the big problems at the moment is that Heath Ledger and his untimely death is taking over the film and the marketing. Is this becoming a little too much?

I'm one who believes that the personal lives of stars are entirely separate from their performances, and sure they do affect each other to a degree, but I can't help but see that the viral marketing style of The Dark Knight is slowly toning down and making way for the focus on Ledger, his performance, and his death, to the detriment of the film, the other actors and their own performances.

Now don't go mixing the two things up, the tragic and untimely death of Heath Ledger was a terrible thing and it robbed film audiences of a unique talent, as well as his friends and family of a loved one.

However that is separate to his role in the film The Dark Knight, a film which is perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited superhero films, if not of any film genre, of the year; of one of the most successful and important on screen superheroes of all time; featuring some of the leading actors of our time; giving some of the best performances of their careers, and in undoubtedly the best directed films of the entire franchise, if not of superhero films to date.

Now if we look at it like that, to then be discussing at every opportunity the single performance of Ledger and the prospect of an Oscar does seem a little over the top. It's similar to one of those 'outstanding achievement awards' which is given to someone who hasn't really won an award before and gets one by default because they're old and has been in the business a long time. Because he tragically died after the filming was completed, the marketing machine is talking as though he is nominated for an Oscar already.

Don't get me wrong, I think he was an amazing actor and he deserves awards for his performance in Brokeback Mountain. I also think that it's telling when the production and studio honoured the actor so publicly on the website and in interviews.

However I haven't seen The Dark Knight, and neither have almost all the people in the world outside of those involved in the film in some way, so why is it an Oscar nomination all of a sudden, and why is the marketing beginning to veer towards his name and his performance?

Christian Bale is perhaps the best Batman we've seen and provides an amazing performance, Christopher Nolan is giving amazing direction to this new Batman, these things we've seen from the previous film, and yet two rounds of publicity interviews I've now seen have been nothing but Heath Ledger and his Joker performance, which I'm sure is wonderful, but more worthy than either of these two talents?

Is the studio really guilty of beginning to market Ledger and his untimely death more than The Dark Knight and the talent around the film? It's certainly something that Terry Gilliam believes and suggests that the studio are looking for any way to publicise the film. From Digital Spy:

"That's what Warner Brothers are saying, but they'll do anything to publicise their film. That's just what they do and you can't get upset because it's bulls**t...

...They're like a great white shark which devours whatever it can."

Harsh words, and from someone who valued Ledger as a great actor, cast him in his film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and is even retaining his very last performance and rewriting the film around it to keep him in. This isn't because of a lack of respect for Ledger, this is a lack of respect for the studio and the marketing of the film.

Shouldn't we at least wait until we see the film before we start shouting about an Oscar and judge the performance for just that rather than awarding an honorary Oscar for the actor's second last performance? Shouldn't the marketing be kept to the film and all the talent involved?



Just got home from seeing The Dark Knight.

As a guy who purposefully ignored anything to do with Heath Ledger since his death just so I could be unbiased in assessing his performance (yeah I know how nerdy and weird that sounds), I feel confident in saying he was perfect for the job. Seriously. I never thought anyone could compete with Nicholson until today. It was outstanding and very, very creepy.

Perfect for the job is one thing, but Oscar worthy performance? Really?

The movie was great! I don't believe the hype and oscar talk about Heath Ledger hurt anyone's opinion of the movie of a whole, althugh it could have. It seems the movie was released just in time. Movie goers will see that this movie is made up of some great actors, great directing, a strong messege and exciting special effects. Not just one character. Yes, The Joker was very good. So was Batman. So was Alfred. So was the Commissioner and Harvey Dent and even some of the other characters with smaller parts. The Dark Knight is a great movie. The Joker will give you the creeps. But he's just a part of the entire experience going on in Gothom City. Enjoy the movie!

I can see how some might think that's a stretch, but I'd nominate him if he were still alive.

Well that's good ISO, if you've seen the film and think that his performance of the Joker holds up against the performances of all the actors in roles this year then that's got the right criteria.

It's all part of the plan??!

I'll agree it was very premature to start shouting Oscar without having seen the film. However, after my 3rd viewing, Heath's performance in The Dark Knight warrants a nomination for sure. He became the character. Not at one point in the movie did I look at the screen and see Heath Ledger, I only saw The Joker. The movie is damn near flawless and it transcends all other comic book movies. Aaron Eckhart gave a strong performance as Harvey Dent also. The fall of Dent was a story arc within the main story of Batman Vs. The Joker.

Ledger on the other hand owns the role now, and I can't see anyone ever replacing him in the series. He took what the general public thought of the Joker and turned it on its head, kicked the crap outta it and made it so insane. (I'll never forget his pencil trick!!)

Ledger deserves an Oscar IMO. His performance was outstanding. Unless you hate yourself, go see this movie!

Depends what the plan is though I suppose..

Ledger's performance was incredible. But I was really taken by the musical score. It really increases the feeling of complete dread in the movie. I would vote for the score to receive an Oscar.

I saw the movie yesterday.Apart from Ledger's great and very creepy Joker (but inferior to Nicholson's Joker), the musical score, Freeman-Oldman-Caine (Great actors!) the movie was mediocre.
Bale was the worst Batman EVER once again!He was pathetic!Oh!And what's with the stupid voice when he wears Batman's suit?!?!?!OMG the whole theatre was laughing!
Ok, Ledger was a very good actor and would have been great if not for his tragic death ,but an Oscar for Joker??He didn't won the Oscar for Brokeback Mountain (should have) and he's gonna get a nomination for Batman after his death...
I don't think that his Joker deserves an Oscar.If he does, then what sould we give Nicholson?!?!!?
Come on people...

I'm seeing this at an Imax cinema on saturday night. i'm quite excited about it since its been hyped up so much and i've never been to an imax before.

Saw the movie at the Drive-In last night. Ledger stole the show. He was brilliant. Speaking as a writer, I want to remind everyone just how difficult it is to stay in character, especially an "evil" character, for any amount of time. It is exhausting, emotionally and physically. Once the character becomes real, you find yourself understanding his or her twisted motives much more than you want to. You question your own sanity because you are able to force yourself to become this character, a character you find morally repugnant, yet strangely sympathetic. You are afraid that you won't be able to leave the character's behind - that it will attach itself to your mind like an alternate personality. Sometimes it can be fun, especially if you like to unleash your dark side once in a while, but its also frightening. I have done this while writing stories, coming back to a character day after day, channelling evils that I'm not so sure I will be able to just slough off when the last sentence is written. Ledger was the last and best Joker. No one will ever be able to follow that performance. As much as I loved him and everything Batman, I was profoundly shocked and disturbed by his performance in a way I haven't been since Schindler's List. He most richly deserves an Oscar nomination, and I will always regret the loss of one of the brightest stars of my generation. He was going to be great.

I definitely feel that the actors who played the villains in this movie outshine Christian Bale's performance. The director did a great job on casting.

It's really funny to me that Ledger has become 'One of the brightest stars of this generation'....Really, one of the brightest stars.
This is a guy who was in like two movies that were any good...And his best role was his last...

Don't get me wrong, his performance as the Joker is brilliant, as a life long fan of Batman I can honestly say that his performance is one of the best in any film I have ever seen.
But lets be serious, this is Heath Ledger, no one would have thought of him as one of the brightest stars in hollywood if he werent dead today...Fact.
So stop pretending this guy had a great career, he didnt, he had two roles, Brokeback and Batman...Thats it....He was a mediocre actor who had the role of a lifetime, and died...Easy as that.
Unless you can look me in the eyes and say that the Four Feathers and First Knight changed your life in any way, let it go, he wasnt the golden boy until he caught his last headline.

Well if just two movies, that too great ones, can't make a star,I still believe some are destined to be more than that. James Dean with 3 movies, not a star but Cult Icon, Here come the Next... Heath Ledger. Have watched not many movies of his but still can say this Joker is irreplaceable... He did manage to introduce a little chaos !

Well for the record I'm not a fan of the great hype around James Dean either, and I think Heath Ledger is still quite some way away from Dean's career, which is similarly short.

a⋅maz⋅ing   /əˈmeɪzɪŋ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [uh-mey-zing] Show IPA
–adjective causing great surprise or sudden wonder.

Nope doesn't seem to apply to either the role or Heath. When will everyone stop using this word incorrectly?

Well said!

Really illuminating many thanks, It looks like your current followers could quite possibly want further reviews similar to this keep up the great hard work.


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