Why Adam Driver As Kylo Ren In 'Force Awakens' Shouldn't Be Ignored By The Oscars
As Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to break box office records and dominate the entire world, the movie is also steadily earning more and more Oscar buzz. The Force Awakens was always in the running for Oscar nominations in visual effects or sound mixing, but now that TFA is finally in theaters, critics are wondering whether or not Oscar might come calling to give The Force Awakens nominations for Best Picture, or even Best Supporting Actor for Star Wars legend Harrison Ford, who reprises his iconic role as Han Solo in the new film. Yet while Ford's moving work as everyone's favorite space scoundrel is strong, it would be a shame for the Academy Awards to ignore another career-making performance in The Force Awakens — that of Adam Driver. Adam Driver's performance in The Force Awakens as the conflicted villain, Kylo Ren, is what makes the film.
The Oscars shouldn't ignore Driver for TFA, but they probably will. Driver might not be as known an actor as Ford to Academy voters, despite having a history of solid work; before Star Wars, Driver was best known for his performance on the small screen as the scene-stealing, no-good boyfriend Adam on Girls . His film career, while blossoming with roles in Inside Llewyn Davis and Lincoln, has left him just below the Academy's radar. Based on the heated Supporting Actor race of 2015, and the last minute Oscar buzz for The Force Awakens , it's unlikely that Driver will earn his first Oscar nomination for playing Kylo Ren, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve it.
It's a well-known fact that a movie is only as good as its villain. And that saying especially holds true for a film like The Force Awakens. Let's face it: this new Star Wars trilogy would be dead in the water without a worthy villain — one audiences could envision being afraid of, seduced by and enamored with for two more films. As Kylo Ren, Driver not only had to create a convincing villain to potentially rival Darth Vader, he also had to inspire empathy from the audience, all while having his face covered by an intimidating, metal mask, and his voice disguised. With only a few key scenes played out from behind the mask, Driver managed to capture audiences with his voice and body language alone — a tricky feat for any actor.
Driver stood out in The Force Awakens in part because he had, arguably, the most layered and interesting role in the film. Kylo Ren is emotional, erratic, unpredictable and intimidating. He's also the most conflicted character in the film, largely thanks to Driver, who chose to embrace Kylo Ren's Dark Side and anger, while also allowing for more subtle moments. While Ford has been praised for his emotional scene with Driver — when Han Solo finally comes face-to-face with his son Ben Solo — I would argue that it is the actor's performance that truly makes the scene. In fact, it's his compelling performance that drives the entire film.
Whether or not Driver gets an Oscar nod for The Force Awakens, his engaging work as Kylo Ren has made it clear that the actor is on the right track to one day get that golden statue. If it happens to be for terrorizing a galaxy far far away, you won't hear me complaining.
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