OSCAR: Michael Douglas As Gordon Gekko Second Time Around: “Supporting Is Good”

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has yet to officially decide. But, according to my sources, the studio is “heavily leaning” toward pushing Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps‘s Michael Douglas for Best Supporting Actor. That’s a very different Oscar race than Best Actor where Douglas won the Academy Award for playing the same Gordon Gekko in 1987’s Wall Street. But it makes sense. Even though he is first billed and is perceived as the star of Oliver Stone’s sequel, Douglas does not have nearly the amount of screen time as co-star Shia LaBeouf. Most importantly, I’m told Douglas himself feels that Gekko is really a supporting role this time around. Here’s another complication: Anchor Bay is campaigning Douglas in the Lead Actor race for the May released Solitary Man. So, by suggesting voters consider Douglas’ second Gekko go-round as supporting work, Fox would be making it easier for everyone involved.

The studio is waiting to see where the Hollywood Foreign Press Association puts him in Golden Globe competition, although the HFPA is giving a freer hand to distributors when it comes to placing contenders this year than they have in the past. But, unlike other awards groups, the Academy Of Motion Picture & Arts Sciences does not suggest categories on their official ballots but leaves that up to the individual voters in the acting branch. Through advertising, though, a studio will try to sway voters in one clear direction. But it doesn’t always work. Susan Sarandon famously voted for herself in supporting for Atlantic City (1981) but was surprised when she found herself nominated for lead actress. The debate about the push for lead vs. supporting is one that rages every year and Oscar history is littered with actors in lead roles who win for supporting (ie Timothy Hutton in 1980’s Ordinary People) or actors in supporting roles who win for lead (ie Patricia Neal in 1963’s Hud).

Reviews on Wall Street‘s sequel 23 years later have been generally mixed since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May and its domestic opening on September 24th. (About 55% positive overall at Rotten Tomatoes, and 64% among top critics). Reviewers have been kind to Douglas although many have complained about Gekko’s out-of-character soft turn in the last scene. Still, with the one-two punch of Solitary Man and Wall Street 2, coupled with the continuing concern about the state of his health ever since he announced in late summer that he is battling Stage 4 throat cancer, there is a lot of goodwill towards the actor. And that could easily spread to the Oscar race, with his iconic Gekko role the likely beneficiary in Supporting. Problem is, the category is extremely competitive already with major contenders surfacing, particularly in upcoming films. Expected to compete strongly are Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech (Nov 24) and Christian Bale said to be sensational in The Fighter (Dec 10), and Matt Damon in the yet-to-be-seen True Grit (Dec 25). There also could Jim Broadbent for Another Year (Dec 29) and Ed Harris for The Way Back (Dec 29). Already mentioned on many lists are The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, Conviction‘s Sam Rockwell, The Town‘s Jeremy Renner, and The Kids Are All Right‘s Mark Ruffalo.

If Douglas does manage a nomination, the odds are longer for a win. Douglas already has two Oscars, including one as producer of the 1975 Best Picture, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. His 1987 Best Actor Oscar for Wall Street reps his only recognition and nomination for acting. No thesp has ever won two Oscars for playing the same character, although four, to my count, have been in contention twice for essaying the same role. (Al Pacino as Michael Corleone was nominated for Supporting Actor in 1972 for The Godfather and upped to lead actor in 1974’s The Godfather Part ll. Peter O’Toole played King Henry ll in two unrelated films, Becket (1964) and again in The Lion In Winter (1968), winning Best Actor noms for both. Bing Crosby took back to back noms as Father O’Malley in Going My Way (1944) and The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945), winning for the former. And a quarter of a century passed before Paul Newman finally won as Fast Eddie Felson in The Color Of Money (1986) after first being nominated for the role in 1961’s The Hustler. I always thought Newman was robbed for the latter (Maximilian Schell in Judgment At Nuremberg beat him) so his eventual Felson victory 25 years later was a sweet Oscar moment.

  1. WS2 couldn’t have been more disappointing. The story, dialogue and characters were a heap of rubbish. Such a let down as I grew up watching Wall Street – those characters, scenes and dialogue were so epic. That’s some shameful shit Ollie Stone pulled by cranking out this half-assed flick…

    Sorkin should have been hired for this film. If he even put a quarter of the work into the WS2 script as he did on The Social Network WS2 could of been dynamite.

    1. Here Here!

      Half way through the movie I was praying Gecko would transform into a robot and Shia would jump on his back.

      I saw the film the first week it came out at the Regal in Battery Park, and heard the real wall street hitters who were in attendance laughing every other scene at the absurdity of the movie. Wallachs “the ATMs will stop working” got the biggest laugh.

  2. Haven’t seen it yet, and by all accounts he’s fantastic, but based on the poor box office alone I think it’s pretty safe to count Sam Rockwell out. I also sense a deep lack of passion surrounding the project now that it’s out in the wild.

    One name I think you’re overlooking is Bill Murray in Get Low. Not only is he ‘due,’ but the movie has managed to make nearly 9 million domestic – very strong for that sort of project. Wouldn’t be stunned if The Social Network kids divide voters (I bet Armie Hammer grabs more than a handful of votes for his double role to) and leave an opening for someone like Bill Murray or even Academy favorite Jack Nicholson in How Do You Know (though that seems a much more Golden Globe-esque role).

    1. Yeah! I’m glad someone has brought-up Bill Murray. He was terrific in Get Low and certainly deserves a best-supporting nom.

  3. ***EVER SO SLIGHT SPOILER***

    Here’s my whole problem with WALL STREET 2, Louis Zabel (Langella) is a crook. The whole story is predicated on the fact that we side with Jake’s (Shia) plight to seek revenge for his befallen mentor. But Zabel bet 50% of his firm on the bogus investments that he should have known were bad. He was just as crooked and evil as AIG and all the others who caused all the little people to lose all their money, then got a big bail out from the government to pay for their parties. The story really makes no sense.

    Whereas the first WALL STREET was all about the “me” generation who wanted everything right away, represented by Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), juxtaposed with the his blue collar father who worked hard for his money and didn’t cut corners to make a living. It was a father-son story at it’s heart, about two different generations, which made it so great.

    ***OK this one’s a “slight” spoiler***

    By the way, Bud Fox’s cameo in WS2 is embarrassing – Charlie looked awful – looked drugged out with tons of work, including a chin implant – what the heck’s up with that huge chin??? Would Bud really forgive the man who tried to destroy his father’s company and be so nonchalant about seeing Gordon after all these years? That was so stupid. He should have at least hit him, for payback for the Central Park beat down.

  4. Cate Blanchett was nominated twice for the same role as “Elizabeth” in both the 1998 and 2007 version.

  5. Not only was Wall Street 2 a horrible film, but it was also one of the biggest wastes of one of the best villains of all time with Gordon Gecko. To actually think it would win any award for that failure is astonishing. For what?

    For the original Wall Street, of course absolutely. For Wall Street 2, are you kidding me?

  6. Isn’t Douglas recovering from throat cancer? Maybe giving acceptance speeches isn’t what he has in mind right now.

  7. Now now folks, lets all have some positive vibes with Michael Douglas here. This guy is going through hard times battling throat cancer. I think the Oscars want to give him this award because of that. You may not like “Wall Street 2″, but Michael Douglas is a phenomenal actor and a great guy. Please knock off the negativity and lets give Michael a positive look for his career because you never know that he could pass away at any time in the future. If Michael Douglas himself is reading this, get well soon and speedy recovery!

  8. His role in the criminally underrated and brilliant “Solitary Man” was some of the best work of his career. A very subtle and affecting performance. He certainly deserves a nomination for that film. And Michael if you are reading this, get well soon.

  9. Clearly he was the best thing about WS2. He slipped right back into those gucci shoes… he was amazing. At the very least he deserves a nomination.

    The Fox direct-to-dvd guys should be working on a WALL STREET PREQUEL: THE RISE OF GEKKO

    …wait for it…
    …wait for it…

    Bixler, are you on it?

    -RnsW

    1. Whatever, rocky. I’m not so naive to think Ledger’s untimely death didn’t have any affect on the oscar outcome, but there’s no denying that his performance of the Joker was oscar worthy. It was not just a “pity vote.”

  10. i didn’t see solitary man yet but WS2 was very disapointing..

    michael perfomance was solid as allways but he can’t save the film

    i love michael but gordon gekko part 2 is not for an oscar

  11. An actor is only as good as the words supplied by the screenwriter. In this case, the creative pens behind Wall Street II (Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff) gave Michael Douglas precious little to work with and certainly no timeless lines along the lines of “Greed is Good” which catapulted the first Wall Street into an iconic film that spoke to its times.

    A better script YIELDS a better movie YIELDS an Oscar-caliber acting performance.

    Douglas, an awesome actor, couldn’t save this script. No actor or actress could. That’s the elephant in the room so few people talk about — it’s the writing, stupid!

    That said, I wish Douglas a speedy recovery. I do think he’s got another Oscar performance in him before he calls it a remarkable career and retires. He’s a stud.

  12. Michael Douglas was wonderful in “Solitary Man”. Best Actor is a crowded category this year and Colin Firth is right now arguably the front runner for the win – but Douglas deserves consideration and I hope he gets a big push.

  13. Michael Douglas was without doubt the best thing on wall stree II then if appointed will be deserved.
    Solitary man was one of the best performances in his career along with Wonder Boys then undoubtedly deserved a nomination for best actor, but it is a little-seen film and the buzz is already finished.

  14. I actually really liked Wall Street 2. My one problem with it was the ending. So Gekko just turns good all of the sudden?

  15. I finally saw it last night and can comment for the bits where I didn’t fall asleep.
    The film is just a predictable bad cliche that confirms Stone lost all creativity in the 90s. Bad acting all along. Shia looks like a disney charachter who is never believable in that role. As for douglas, he should have let Gekko live in eternal iconic status rather than come back with this parody of him. The studio machinery has a big nerve to suggest him for a prize nomination.

  16. I pray all who know Michael’s cinema gifts will gift him too with every power/prayer to fully recover his health our blessing also.

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