See the Planet of the Apes Clip That Will Finally Win Andy Serkis an Oscar

A few days ago The Hollywood Reporter asked a question, we assumed, in jest: Will Andy Serkis receive an Oscar nomination for his motion-captured performance as an angry monkey in Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Sure, we thought. As if the equally worthy performance by the smoking monkey in Hangover Part II weren’t obviously going to split the vote! But the article did raise an interesting point or two, about how definitions of “performance” have changed, especially in the post-Avatar world. It also claimed that a nomination had “eluded” Serkis when he played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, a technologically fascinating, nearly unwatchable performance hailed by absolutely no one for its subtlety and grace. Anyway, since we already felt pretty confident about who’s going home with gold next year, we dismissed it and went about our monkey-free lives.

But now it seems the Green Screen Olivier might have his moment in the nondigital sun after all! Fox today released what can only be called Serkis’ Oscar clip, three minutes from the film that feature his character, Caesar, showing an emotional range of behavior fully in line with what human performers tend to do in order to get recognized by the Academy: First, he lovingly cares for his Alheimer’s riddled father-figure (John Lithgow), then he attempts to tear a dude’s face off. (Our memories could be rusty but we believe this is the exact same character arc Geoffery Rush went through in Shine. And we all know how that worked out.)

In his how-did-he-keep-it-together intro to the clip, Serkis explains how the “historic” Apes is “the first live-action film to star and be told from the point of view of a sentient animal,” which is technically true as long as you leave out every other live-action film ever. And also Zookeeper. Still, while Rise of the Planet of the Apes still looks apocalyptically dreadful — and we’re not saying it seems like a bomb but if NATO were smart they’d drop the rough cut on Tripoli — we are now officially rooting for Andy Serkis to get an Oscar nomination. But if Oscar gold eludes him this year, maybe he should consider optioning the life rights to the Iranian space monkey.

Filed Under: Andy Serkis, Monkeys, Oscars, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Andy Greenwald is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ andygreenwald