An Oscar for Ledger? Maybe not so batty after all.

Terry Gilliam thinks the nascent campaign to get Heath Ledger an Oscar nod for his role in The Dark Knight is unseemly. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, summer blockbusters, even the best, just don’t generate performance awards at the Academy. The only exceptions to this are Russell Crowe’s win for Gladiator and Johnny Depp’s nod for Pirates of the Caribbean. So I have the distinct sense that there wouldn’t be much talk about Ledger getting a nomination had he not died — and I find that fairly distasteful.

On the other hand, the more I think about his performance, the more I think it might be genuinely deserving. The movie’s not without flaw — it’s a tad bit anticlimactic, and some of the plot points are delivered a little hastily — but, as I argue in my review, I do think it’s very strong, and I’m increasingly inclined to think Ledger deserves nearly as much credit as Nolan for its success. I don’t care much for the Oscars, and I take umbrage at the notion that they’re even a remotely reliable indicator of actual quality. But if they can be used to encourage more performances like Ledger’s in summer blockbusters — and maybe even more movies like The Dark Knight — then I’m all for it.