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The Forgotten Oscars 2011

By MICHAEL NEEL  |  February 28, 2011

Best Actor: Jerry O'Connell for Piranha 3-D
Release Date: August 20

Who deserves the Best Actor Oscar? A man who delivers the most dramatic performance? The academy sure thinks so. Look at the history of Best Actors, and you'll see that almost all of them fall in the dramatic category. Marlon Brando in The Godfather, Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, and so on. So where's the love for comedy? Shakespeare took equal pride in comedy and drama — look no further than the beloved joker Falstaff from Henry IV Part One and Part Two, considered one of the Bard's finest characters. So what, Academy, are you smarter than Shakespeare? The best Actor should be just that — the one performance that stands out the most, comedy or drama. And as I look back at 2010, the choice is clear: Jerry O'Connell in Piranha 3-D.

>>READ: Phoenix review of Piranha 3-D<<

Piranha 3-D is a love letter to B-rated exploitation horror: excessive gore, explicit nudity, and jet-black humor that culminates in an epic bloodbath. It's ridiculous fun, and it features the best use of 3-D outside of My Bloody Valentine 3-D and Avatar (screw Alice's Wonderland, I want to see mutilated genitals and full-frontal girl-on-girl action in 3-D). This film has no delusions that it's anything less than a hilarious and gory horror film, and it isn't the place for a serious dramatic role. The performances have to be over-the-top to complement the darkly entertaining sex and carnage, or the film becomes too serious and stops being fun. And no one is more over-the-top than Jerry O'Connell. He plays Derrick Jones, a coke-fueled sleazoid determined to exploit young girls for his amateur porn videos (a not-so-subtle stab at Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis). O'Connell revels in depravity, pushing Jones to a level of excessive cheese that many comedic actors aspire to but few achieve. Derrick Jones is despicable, manipulative, shameless, and perverted — this is a guy that you can't wait to see get killed, and his death (which is show-stopping in its own right) is exponentially more satisfying because he's such a major douchebag. Shakespeare would be proud.

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