Fox to Promote Andy Serkis for First Supporting Actor Nomination for Motion Capture
In the most recent news for 2014 Oscar Watch, Andy Serkis's acclaimed motion capture performance in this summer's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be pushed by the studio for Best Supporting Actor nominations. If he receives one, he will the first actor to be nominated by the Academy for a motion capture performance.
Serkis's performance as the ape king Caesar was widely praised in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The Boston Globe wrote that "in bearing, speech, and agonized expressiveness, Serkis's Caesar conveys the conflicts of a king with almost Shakespearean grandeur," while Media Mikes wrote, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes rises and falls on the large shoulders of Andy Serkis. He gives Caesar a quiet dignity and, if possible, almost makes him human in his emotions... Serkis conveys more with his eyes than many actors do with their words." Many critics specifically stated that Serkis should be the first actor to be Oscar-nominated for a motion capture performance.
Is this likely? Performance capture has mostly been ignored by awards associations, partially because it's difficult to assess how much of the performance is to the credit of the digital effects team, and partially because they often appear in genre films. Serkis's performance as the same character in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was similarly acclaimed, and was nominated for several awards that have also historically ignored motion capture, including several critics' associations and the Satellite Awards. But the Oscars often take longer to adapt with the times, and with J.K. Simmons, Ed Norton, Mark Ruffalo, and Ethan Hawke all looking like locks for nominations for more traditional dramas (Whiplash, Birdman, Foxcatcher, and Boyhood, respectively), the race is likely too crowded for such a groundbreaking occurrence. (If the race were expanded to ten, like the Best Picture category, it might be a different story.) However, the fact that Fox is expending resources to promote Serkis, and that he's officially entering the Oscar conversation, is progress in itself, regardless of whether he actually gets a nomination.
Serkis has been a pioneer (the only pioneer, really) in "serious" motion capture performance. He previously played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series, King Kong in the most recent remake, and Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin.