Alex Massie

What Happened to American Acting*?

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Quick Oscar** thought: no American actor or actress won an Oscar this year. The four acting awards went to: Tilda Swinton (Scotland), Javier Bardem (Spain) Daniel Day-Lewis (England/Ireland) and Marion Cotillard (France). Have the Americans ever been shut out like this before? Does it mean anything beyond the fact that the Oscars are an increasingly international event (as, indeed, the Academy becomes an increasingly international event)? Perhaps it's just a small sample size and perhaps it doesn't mean anything at all, but it seems like a pleasing development to me.

Still: how long before the Democratic presidential contenders deplore the outsourcing of American acting jobs to foreigners and call for quotas on a) foreigners working in Hollywood, b) foreigners winning Oscars?

*Obviously there remain top US actors: Seymour-Hoffman, Depp, Downey Jr, even Clooney. Still, I'm always surprised by the number of British and Irish actors who get to play Americans on US TV and in US films.

**Second thought: Hurrah for Glen Hansard and Once! Tricky getting one's head wrapped around the idea that a guy I remember playing dingy college bars and, it seemed, the Trinity Ball every year I was at college now has an Oscar for Best Song. Congratulations. Great stuff.

UPDATE: Martin Hollick reminds one that non-Americans also took all four acting Oscars in 1965.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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