Willem Dafoe has received three Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor in his long and distinguished career: 1986’s Platoon, 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire, and just last year for The Florida Project. He has never gotten recognition in lead Actor, but that is likely to change with At Eternity’s Gate. Featuring Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh in his final days, the Julian Schnabel directed pic has debuted at the Venice Film Festival. Early buzz suggests its star stands an excellent chance at a nomination.
Most of the critical reaction is encouraging, but the picture itself is certainly a question mark in all other categories. Schnabel has certainly received Academy love before. 2000’s Before Night Falls saw Javier Bardem get a Best Actor nod. 2007’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly garnered four nominations, including Best Director. Original Screenplay and Cinematography could be two additional categories where this is considered.
As far as Dafoe’s costars, Oscar Isaac is a possibility as fellow painter Paul Gauguin. Yet it’s also entirely feasible that CBS Films will focus the bulk of its campaign on Dafoe. They may not have to try too hard.
Bottom line: any other races are uncertain, but Dafoe looks poised for his first walk down the red carpet as a Best Actor nominee.
At Eternity’s Gate is out domestically on November 16. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…