With awards season in full swing and its dénouement, The Oscars, airing this Sunday, there has been plenty of talk surrounding who will be taking home one of the coveted statues. And while the nominees for best picture have been at the forefront of critic fodder, the buzz surrounding two of the nominees for Best Actor—film veteran Michael Keaton and English newcomer, in comparison, Eddie Redmayne—has intensified, mainly focusing on the actors’ ages.
With fellow nominees Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch rounding out the category, Keaton, 63, and Redmayne, 33, represent the parameters of the nomination’s age scatterplot with Carell, Cooper and Cumberbatch falling between them. While we won’t know who won for his performance until the envelope is unsealed Sunday night, we can take a closer look at how the actors stack up.
Known for such notable roles as the title character in 1989’s “Batman” and 1988’s “ghost with the most” in “Beetlejuice,” Keaton made his big-screen debut as Blaze Blazejowski in the Ron Howard-directed film “Night Shift” in 1982 following a pretty solid career in television. From there, Keaton seemingly made a working blur of the ‘80s and ‘90s, starring in such memorable and diverse films as “Mr. Mom,” “The Paper,” “Multiplicity” and Tarantino cult classic “Jackie Brown” before doing television and animated feature voice work in recent years.
With the fall release of “Birdman” last year, movie-goers and critics were seemingly reintroduced to Keaton, this time as a beset has-been actor attempting to sort out his life against the backdrop of Broadway. Following its release, his performance garnered critic and fan acclaim alike, making him a strong contender to take home a golden statue at Sunday’s ceremony. Earlier this year, Keaton managed to snag the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy last month, mirroring Redmayne's win in the drama category.
Although a fairly new name among film fans, Eddie Redmayne has managed to make his presence known among Hollywood’s elite. After some theater and television work and roles in the DeNiro-directed “The Good Shepard” and “The Other Boleyn Girl,” Redmayne picked up momentum by way of films like “My Week with Marilyn” and 2013 award shows favorite, “Les Miserables” before taking on the incredible portrayal of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in 2014’s “The Theory of Everything” alongside Best Actress nominee Felicity Jones.
Throughout this year’s awards season, Redmayne has been lauded by fans and critics alike for his complex portrayal of Hawking, which won him the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama at the January ceremony and the Screen Actors Guild award this year for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, beating out Keaton in the narrowed category and stoking the fires of rivalry between the oldest and youngest nominee in the Oscars’ Best Actor category.
So remains the question: Which of the two actors will take home an Oscar on Sunday? The answer is really that it’s anyone’s guess. While gauging from past wins this season, either Keaton or Redmayne could win. However, due to the success of the Clint Eastwood-produced “American Sniper” and the fact that Cooper has had two other back-to-back Best Actor nominations for “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” in past years, he too could very well walk away a winner.
And despite all of that, Carell and Cumberbatch, who’ve been noted for their dynamic performances in "Foxcatcher" and "The Imitation Game" respectively (and in recent years, as well), could take the title. Bottom line: At this point, Best Actor truly is any man’s game, and age is only a number when it comes to winning.
The Oscars airs live on Sunday at 7 p.m. EST on ABC.