I can still remember the surge of panic and despair I felt on hearing that Harrison Ford had crashed his plane a year ago. And from the outpouring on Twitter, it was clear that I was not alone.
There were so many different reports coming out that by the minute his condition went from critical to stable back to critical. Honestly, I didn’t move from my computer until it had been confirmed that he was alright. I stumbled pale and red-eyed into the office down the hall to tell everyone there that he was going to be okay. They, of course, had no idea what I was talking about.
Yeah, you could say I’m a big fan of Harrison Ford. Like so many others out there, he’s my cinematic hero, and has been for my entire life. I say this in full knowledge of the fact this would only serve to embarrass the man himself, and were I to see him in person; I’d probably meet a grumpy man who has heard this kind of hyperbolic praise a thousand times too many.
I don’t feel that Harrison Ford has ever strayed too far outside of his comfort zone as an actor. What I mean is he give performances similar to George Clooney, or Gary Cooper, as opposed to the chameleon-like style of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
He’s great at what he does, and there is no shortage of roles for leading men. His style of acting never gets tired; there aren’t many people out there who lose interest because they’ve seen him play a similar role before. He excels at it. He’s never boring. When asked about the difference between Indiana Jones and Han Solo, he said, “Different clothes, different character. That’s how I feel about it.”
Maybe this is the reason that the Academy has only seen fit to nominate him once in 1986, for his role as John Book in Witness – a performance notable for its humour, sensitivity, and dramatic heft. It also displayed his real life carpentry skills.
He lost to William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman. If you have ever seen it, you can probably understand why it was William Hurt walking out of there with the statue. He’s brilliant, and it’s the sort of role that attracts attention.
Comebacks also attract attention.
Ford is reprising his most loved role at 73 years of age, and his being top billed in a movie that will no doubt be the biggest in the world and highest grossing in history invites consideration.
You can see what I’m getting at: Harrison Ford is about to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing Han Solo.
This may sound far-fetched, and I don’t doubt it does. But think about it: people love Star Wars, and Han Solo most of all. And more than that, people love Harrison Ford. The Academy is comprised of a bunch of old white guys – Ford’s an old white guy, they probably want to look out for one of their own.
Admittedly, the Star Wars films were never the darling of the Academy; they hated George Lucas and George Lucas hated them. Say what you will about him, Lucas was always a maverick, and, for better or worse, he made his movies his way. This rubbed the Academy and the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) the wrong way, and led them to block Steven Spielberg, a member of the DGA, from directing Return of the Jedi. Consider, for a moment, what that film could have been with Spielberg as the director.
However, they don’t hate J.J Abrams, quite the contrary in fact. Many regard him to be the next Spielberg. They share a certain knack for blending excitement with sentimentality. Super 8, for example. Funnily enough, Abrams also wrote the script, his first ever, for Regarding Henry, Harrison Ford’s most sappy turn.
Having not yet seen Star Wars VII: the Force Awakens, I know that I am making a lot of assumptions here. But regardless of whether or not the film is great or merely very good, it will certainly make an insurmountable amount of money, and have one of the largest audiences in history. Your parents want to see it; your kids want to see it, and even your grandparents want to see it – especially your grandparents.
And let’s be clear, I’m not saying The Force Awakens will necessarily be an Oscar-worthy motion picture. But we’re talking about the Academy Awards: a show that gave Best Picture to Titanic over L.A. Confidential, and to Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction – they are clearly not evaluating art. What they seem to be consistently evaluating is the movie that made the largest impression on the most amount of people.
Yes, I’m also guessing The Force Awakens will be the second Star Wars film to be nominated for Best Picture. I’m not sure of whether it will win, but it will sweep the technical awards, and certainly secure Abrams a nomination. What do great films win if they lose awards like Best Picture? They win Best Supporting Actor/Actress. Take Boyhood, for example, just last year.
And of course, the nail in the coffin, as it were, is that Harrison Ford, by his own admission, advocated for Han Solo to die at the end of Return of the Jedi, to give the film poignancy. Harrison Ford has said he would never return to the role of Han Solo. Is he returning just this once to give his character the fate that he believes Han Solo should have?
Hopefully not, but if this film does bring the end of Han Solo, it will as well serve to remind all of us that Harrison, like Han, is also mortal. It may cue the Academy to appreciate such a monumental actor while they still can. Keep in mind they gave one to John Wayne; and for Best Actor.
Harrison Ford is iconic, and he’s about to be in a good movie again. He’s a much-loved actor, returning to his most famous role – the role that gave him his big break. He’s top-billed in a movie that will become the highest grossing in history, and one the Academy is waiting to throw Oscars at. And it could be the last time we ever see Han Solo.
I’ve spent my life aspiring to be Han Solo when all I do is whine about power converters. I’ll never be Han Solo, but then again, no one will be but Harrison Ford. Aside from the envy, I feel bad for whoever is cast as the young Han Solo in the next Star Wars Anthology movie; they are impossible boots to fill.
But, then again, never tell him the odds.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I forgot that Sylvester Stallone would be reprising his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed this year. Unfortunately, many of my arguments work for Stallone – he is also an old white guy returning to a much beloved role that gave him his start. Don’t get me wrong, I think Stallone is excellent in the movie, and I think the part is tailor made for an academy award.
Had Creed and The Force Awakens not shared 2015, however, I believe that Harrison Ford could have been a contender.