Valid and important question: Is it finally Jake Gyllenhaal's year to win an Oscar? Above all, I hope so — it would certainly make up for the fact that he was unduly snubbed last year for his haunting performance in Nightcrawler, and maybe even take the edge off his biggest life heartbreak: the fact his parents turned down an offer for him to star in Mighty Ducks. Luckily, it seems like he might have a pretty good chance. Not only is Gyllenhaal the star of Southpaw, which includes performance as boxer Billy Hope, he's also the lead in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, which is set to the open the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Considering it's a dark movie opening a heavily acclaimed film festival, I'd say this bodes well for Gyllenhaal.
Though it's difficult to get over the fact that Gyllenhaal was so, so snubbed for Nightcrawler last year, it seems like Gyllenhaal was in all the right places at the right times with his work this year. Demolition has a lot going for it, and not just a genius director and a stellar cast. As the New York Times points out, the film is doing everything right to get those golden nominations:
Demolition stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper in a story about the disintegrating emotional life of an investment banker. Fox Searchlight released the winner of this year’s best picture Oscar, “Birdman,” as well as “Wild,” which was directed by Mr. Vallée and received Oscar nominations for two of its stars, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.
Though it's a bit early to tell whether Demolition will live up to its potential, it's definitely not too early to tell whether or not Southpaw will — and I think at this point, there might actually be protests if Gyllenhaal is overlooked for his role in that film. Costar Rachel McAdams, who plays Gyllenhaal's wife in the film, told Yahoo! Style that watching him disappear into the role was "awe-inspiring":
Not just the physical transformation but even his emotional shift was so palpable. He had become this person on a cellular level. So really extraordinary.
In other words, Gyllenhaal's got the chops.
Gyllenhaal's career has been on a rapidly upward swing in recent years, as he consistently delivers astounding performances, portraying characters that are so believable, it's scary. And usually, literally scary— he has a penchant, and an enormous talent, for playing men that are haunted and dangerous, to themselves and to the world. His homeruns with Nightcrawler, Prisoners and End Of Watch have confirmed his career transformation, a la the Matthew McConaughey McConaissance. Considering McConaughey won the Oscar for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club — a film that was both beautiful and inspiring — soon after the McConaissance, it's not crazy to wonder if Gyllenhaal will follow the same path. After all, Gyllenhaal's Southpaw is similar — he gives an intense performance in the film, and, as Bustle's own Johnny Brayson reminded us all recently, the Academy Awards really love to love their boxing movies.
Of course, it's VERY early in what's looking like a long awards season, and there could be countless more Oscar contending performances in the months to come, but right now, the future looks bright for young Gyllenhaal.
Image: The Weinstein Company