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Should Andy Serkis get an Oscar nomination for 'Apes'?

August 10, 2011 |  2:45 pm

Rise of the planet of the apes

Now that it's clear the motion picture academy has snubbed Andy Serkis for an honorary award, it's time to whip up support for him getting nominated for a competitive Oscar. Yes, his role as Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is enhanced by heavy visual effects, but it is led by a powerful emotional performance seized by the art of motion-capture.

Stubbornly, academy voters have refused to acknowledge such CGI-enhanced performances as award-worthy even though digitally generated films now lead at the box office and thus fund much of Hollywood. Serkis is the king of motion-capture performers, of course, having roared atop a skyscraper in "King Kong" and schemed as the wily Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The last installment of the trilogy, "Return of the King," swept the Oscars, going undefeated as it tied the record for most wins (11), but there was no academy love for Serkis.

Now Serkis reigns on-screen as Caesar, the "godfather of all apedom," notes the L.A. Times while hailing Serkis as "redoubtable" and his performance as "dazzling" in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Adds the New York Times, "When Caesar scowls, as he increasingly does, you don’t see just digital wizardry at its most expressive; you also see a plausible, angry, thinking character."

His CGI work has been recognized by other award-givers. For his work in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," he won best supporting actor at the Saturn Awards, which honor sci-fi and fantasy films, and he received a special acting honor from the Critics Choice Awards. His role as Gollum also earned him several honors from the Visual Effects Society.  And the Toronto Film Critics Assn. created a special award just to hail his last ape role in "King Kong."

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Andy Serkis in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Credit: 20th Century Fox

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