Well, That Sucks

You know, I never saw Capote. Couldn't have been less interested in it. I tried to read In Cold Blood once and it bored me silly. I tried to watch the movie version with the same result. Truman Capote is a figure who does not remotely interest me. So I can't really say much about the quality of Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning performance in that movie.

Except this: Hoffman's performance must have been a gem, indeed for him to have beaten out Heath Ledger for the Oscar. I'm not going to say it's a joke or a travesty on the order of Crash beating Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture, because Hoffman's a great actor and I don't doubt that his performance was great. But Ledger's work in Brokeback is one of the most moving, nuanced, perfectly realized performances I've ever seen, surely one of the great performances in the history of the American cinema.

Heath Ledger was always reliably good. He made a valiant effort in the utterly ludicrous Mel Gibson vehicle The Patriot, he was thoroughly entertaining in 10 Things I Hate About You in spite of acting opposite the mannequin-like Julia Stiles, and hit all the right notes in the absurdly entertaining A Knight's Tale.

The trailer for the forthcoming The Dark Knight, in which Ledger plays the Joker, suggest that, as usual, the early fanboy rage at the announcement of his casting in the role was entirely misplaced. He seems to fit hand-in-glove in the role, and the movie looks great.

And now he's dead, and that really sucks. Like River Phoenix, he was a talent on the verge of exploding - a great performance in a huge, absurdly commercial movie like The Dark Knight could have done that for him - but we'll never know for sure what would have been.