Steven Spielberg wasn’t totally sold on Andy Serkis’s Oscar campaign for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” when he spoke to Moviefone late last year. “For the first time, in ‘Tintin,’ [Serkis] got to actually act,” Spielberg said, when asked if Serkis’s motion-capture performances deserved some kind of awards consideration. “He didn’t just have to act with his eyes or his face, the way he did with Gollum or Kong or ‘Planet of the Apes.’ It was a full performance with his vocal skills, his accent, his over-the-top body language.”
That “full performance” part might be true, but it doesn’t mean Serkis’s “Apes” work should be overlooked. Just ask James Franco.
The do-everything actor added a new hyphenate to his name on Sunday: Oscar blogger. In a post written for Deadline, Franco praised Serkis’s work in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and urged his fellow actors to give the premier mo-cap performer some love.
Andy doesn’t need me to tell him he is an innovator, he knows it. What is needed is recognition for him, now. Not later when this kind of acting is de riguer, but now, when he has elevated this fresh mode of acting into an art form. And it is time for actors to give credit to other actors. It is easy to praise the technical achievements of this film, but those achievements would be empty without Andy. Caesar is not a character that is dependent on human forms of expression to deliver the emotion of the character: despite the lack of any human gestures, and maybe two or three words of human speech Caesar is a fully realized character, not human, and not quite ape; this is no Lassie and this is no Roger Rabbit, it is the creation of an actor doing something that I dare say no other actor could have done at this moment.
Franco’s words are similar to those of Jamie Bell, Serkis’s co-star in “The Adventures of Tintin.”
“I think there needs to be some kind of acknowledgement, somehow,” Bell said, when asked about awards consideration for mo-cap performances. “I don’t know if it’s the invention of a new category, an inclusion in other categories; I don’t know. But there definitely needs to be some acknowledgement of the fact that these performances are genuinely moving people around the world, acknowledging a cultural phenomenon.”
Whether or not Franco’s plea has any affect on Oscar season remains to be seen. In a weak field, however — where even someone like Armie Hammer got a SAG nomination in the Supporting Actor category for his mediocre work in “J. Edgar” — anything can happen.
Follow Moviefone on Twitter
Like Moviefone on Facebook