Robert Pattinson will enter the lead actor Oscar race for his role alongside Willem Dafoe in “The Lighthouse.” (Via Variety.) A24’s decision to submit Pattinson in the category means Dafoe will compete for best supporting actor.
The mens’ performances in the film, which opens Oct. 18, have been lauded on the festival circuit, where writer-director Robert Eggers has taken home a handful of awards, including Cannes’ FIPRESCI Prize.
It seemed like a tossup as to whether Dafoe, who plays a crotchety and possibly mad lighthouse keeper, or Pattinson as his protege, would enter the lead race. The film is claustrophobically centered around the two men, their shared bedroom, their drinking binges, and their work on a tiny island somewhere in the Atlantic.
But it’s Pattinson who has a slight edge on Dafoe when it comes to screen time and the audience is given a clearer, more intimate look into his psyche and routine, while it’s more mysterious how exactly Dafoe’s character has been able to live in pelagic solitude for so long — a question Pattinson seeks to answer during the pair’s downward spiral.
Pattinson’s dedication to his role was examined in an Esquire profile, where he discussed the revolting ways he went semi-method to get into his character’s shoes.
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“Because you’re playing a mad person, it means you can sort of be mad the whole time,” Pattinson said. “Well, not the whole time, but for like an hour before the scene. You can literally just be sitting on the floor growling and licking up puddles of mud.”
Mirroring the copious amounts of on-screen drinking depicted on black-and-white 35mm film stock, Pattinson said he got so drunk he pissed himself and threw up.
Dafoe has been nominated four times, once for best actor last year (“At Eternity’s Gate”) and three times for supporting actor (“Platoon,” “Shadow of the Vampire,” and “The Florida Project”).
Pattinson, whose career took off after he starred in the “Twilight” films about a decade ago, has never been nominated for an Oscar but has found increasing critical recognition for his work, especially in the Safdie brothers’ 2017 crime drama “Good Time.”
In his A- review, IndieWire chief critic Eric Kohn called the “The Lighthouse” a “stunning showcase” for Pattinson and Dafoe to “unleash their wildest extremes by positioning them at the center of a two-hander about a descent into madness in the middle of nowhere.”
“The Lighthouse” is just one of several Oscar frontrunners with fuzzy lines between lead and supporting actor.
It’s still uncertain whether the equally matched Matt Damon or Christian Bale will enter the lead actor race for “Ford v. Ferrari,” James Mangold’s fact-based look at car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Bale).
Another unsettled example is “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino’s Hollywood buddy movie starring a career-best Brad Pitt as stuntman Cliff Booth, sidekick to fading actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Pitt last month told Entertainment Weekly he would “abstain” from campaigning for both “Hollywood” and James Gray’s “Ad Astra,” which stars a lauded Pitt as an astronaut who goes to space in search of his lost father.