Published in The Daily Beast
Jeff Bridges will almost certainly win a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar Sunday for Crazy Heart, as the performance caps a fruitful but underappreciated career and manages to find sympathy and humor in a washed-up, alcoholic country singer. But there's another factor that may contribute to his victory: It's hard to understand what he's saying.
In recent years, a number of Oscar-nominated performances have involved some form of low-talking, be it mumbling, muttering, slurring, or a lack of volume, either because of the actor's choice or the requirements of the role. It's not that they're completely unintelligible—it's that on the spectrum that runs from Laurence Olivier in Richard III to the Olsen twins in Full House, they're a few standard deviations toward the latter.
Every year, there are at least one or two acting nominees who are in this category, and this year it's Bridges and the tight-lipped Gabourey Sidibe in Precious. Last year, it was Frank Langella's gravelly former president in Frost/Nixon and Robert Downey, Jr.'s white actor pretending to be black in Tropic Thunder.
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