As the early reviews of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight” trickle in, critics are giving rave reviews of Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker – so much so, that many are suggesting he should be nominated for a posthumous Oscar. Ledger would be the first actor to win a posthumous Academy Award since Peter Finch in 1976 for “Network.”
The accolades are a bit bittersweet since the 28-year-old Australian star had just completed work on the film shortly before his death from an accidental drug overdose in January. Still, it’s impressive to see critics this excited over an actor’s portrayal, especially one of a comic book character.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine wrote one of the first reviews of the movie after a Los Angeles screening where the audience cheered Ledger’s opening scenes. “I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as the Joker. Miles from Jack Nicholson’s broadly funny take on the role in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, Ledger takes the role to the shadows, where even what’s comic is hardly a relief,” Travers wrote.
David Germain of The Associated Press writes: “With his final full film role, Ledger delivers what may be remembered as the finest performance of his career… At times sounding like a cross between tough guy James Cagney in a gangster flick and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s fastidious Truman Capote, Ledger elevates Batman’s No. 1 nemesis to a place even Jack Nicholson did not take him in 1989’s Batman.”
Other film critics have called Ledger’s performance “haunting,” “off the rails,” and “mesmerizing.” The movie’s release date is July 18.
Taking on gutsy roles wasn’t a rare move for the actor who is probably best known for his character in Brokeback Mountain, though I must admit he’ll always hold a special place in my preteen memories as the star of “A Knight’s Tale“.
If the critics do not convince you, this movie trailer was enough to persuade me of the intensity of Ledger’s role as Joker. It looks as though it will be a film to remember him by.
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