When motion capture performance became a thing at the beginning of the 21st century, Andy Serkis was at the forefront, and it was his dedication and talent playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy that made people realize this was an extremely effective tool in creating a new kind of performance on film. Still, like most technological evolutions in Hollywood, there has yet to be a lot of love for it from the establishment, and by that we mean major awards consideration. There’s been talk before of Serkis getting a nod for Lord of the Rings or other roles where his performance has been motion captured, but Twentieth Century Fox is now apparently getting ready to make a serious push for Serkis to get an Academy Award nomination for his work in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox is in the process of putting together a campaign to promote Serkis and many of the members of Dawn’s cast including Toby Kebbell, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman, for Oscar consideration. The studio’s going to boost the cast members in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories, where competition is friendlier to ensemble casts and there’s a lot more room for surprise nominations, like the first motion capture performance to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Recognition of his motion capture work would be a fine compliment to Serkis pioneer work in the craft, which has included starting a business that consults and advises film productions on the planning, use and implementation of motion capture actors and performances. In short, Serkis is the go-to guy for mo-cap, and his skills will be on display again two of next year’s biggest movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. (And yes, if you haven’t seen our story from earlier today, that is indeed the title.)
The Reporter story notes that there’s been concern by Hollywood actors that motion capture might put them out of a job because why hire five actors for five roles when you can hire one to do all five in mo-cap, but that seems like a very old argument and one that I don’t think has been used for over a decade in reference to the technology. Motion capture has since seeped into numerous aspects of filmmaking, and has been integrated into live-action performances as a replacement for elaborate make-up appliances like Two-Face in The Dark Knight or old Peggy Carter in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Long story short, a nomination fo Serkis has been a long time in coming, and being recognized for his work in Dawn would be a really good way to give him some of that overdue attention. Serkis, I would say, is the defacto lead of the film, and long stretches of the movie feature his character, the ape leader Cesar, as the central figure with no human characters to interact with. If you watch Dawn and see more than a talking monkey, if you see a flesh and blood character with real thoughts and emotions, then you can thank the work of Andy Serkis for making you believe. Motion capture still requires a lot of the actor, and saying that it’s the work of computer fakery is like saying that credit for a good performance in heavy make-up goes to the latex appliances. Serkis definitely deserves an Oscar nomination, and it will be interesting to see if the campaign is successful for him.
The Oscar nominations will be announced sometime in the new year. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is on DVD and Blu-ray December 2.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter