Matt Damon: Not South African

The Oscar nominations are officially out.  Now I only saw one of the ten movies nominated for Best Picture, but I did see “Invictus”, for which Matt Damon is nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.  Damon played the captain of the South African rugby team whom Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandella calls on to win the World Cup and unite the country.  Freeman is also nominated for an Oscar, for Best Actor.

Let’s be honest, Freeman’s nomination was a foregone conclusion.  Conan O’Brien could have played Mandella and gotten the nomination, with Hollyweird itching to honor the terrorist-cum-civil rights leader.  But looking deep into Morgan Freeman’s freckles, the memory of that whole bombing campaign just melts away, fully laid to rest by the dulcet tones of Freeman’s voice.

But Damon, Best Supporting Actor? Best?  When I walked out of the theater, I had no doubt they had left pages of intended Damon dialogue on the cutting room floor because his attempt at a South African accent was so awful.  It wasn’t that he didn’t sound like a South African, it was that in every one of his scenes, I was thinking, There’s Matt Damon pretending to be South African.  It completely jolted me out of the movie, which was already not very compelling and in need of much more editing.  Damon’s role in the movie is laughably small; the scenes he does have do nothing to ingratiate his character to the audience.  Ostensibly, the requirements for the part were: we need a fit white guy.  I can’t figure out why a big star, a leading man like Damon, would take such a role.

My only conclusion is that “Invictus” was so lame, the fervor to honor its subject matter put the Academy in a tight spot.  Either Damon had to get a nomination also, or figure out a way to give Freeman two nominations for the same role.

Part of why I’m so down on this Damon nomination is because there were two performances that absolutely blew him out of the water.  Christoph Waltz was a Nazi in “Inglorious Basterds”- I wasn’t thinking, There’s a German guy playing a Nazi.  It was more, I’m afraid this guy is going to jump through the screen and strangle me.

I don’t know much about Orson Welles, but I have heard that Christian McKay nailed the guy’s mannerisms in “Me and Orson Welles.”  Whether he did or not is just gravy because McKay was electric anyway.  I couldn’t wait to hear what outrageous thing he would say next.

Waltz did get a nomination and hopefully he will win, but McKay was totally snubbed.

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