Once upon a time in Hollywood, there was a man named Brad. He was a popular hero in this town of tinsel but had never been bestowed the great honor awarded to his peers Leo and Meryl, and De Niro and Pacino. His efforts were beloved and respected, yet often overshadowed by romance and beauty, until one winter’s night when it came to pass he was finally given the golden statue that let him rule the land.
Brad Pitt’s fairy-tale movie career hit a new high Sunday when he won the best supporting actor Oscar for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the 92nd Academy Awards. It’s not the first time he’s been recognized at the film industry’s grandest extravaganza – he took home a trophy in 2014 as a producer on best-picture honoree “12 Years a Slave.” This one, though, is special, finally giving Pitt, 56, the accolade he’s long deserved as a truly talented thespian.
He’s run the gauntlet this award season, winning at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, British Academy Film Awards and now Oscars, with acceptance speeches as sharp as his red-carpet attire. He gave us an epic “Titanic” quip at the Globes and promised to add his SAG Award to his Tinder profile.
Winners list:All the awards given out at the Oscars
Pitt took home the first award of the night. “Wow,” he said, “This is really incredible.”
He got a little political, saying the 45 seconds he had for his acceptance speech was 45 more seconds than John Bolton had to speak at President Trump’s impeachment trial. He thanked writer/director Quentin Tarantino and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, telling Leo he’d “ride on your coattails any day.” Pitt gave a shout out to stunt crews, adding, “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, ain’t that the truth?” Pitt ended his speech by dedicating the win to his kids, “I adore you.”
Oscars 2020: The winners list
Over the years, while fans were busy being enamored with his Sexiest Man Alive looks and high-profile love life (from former girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow to A-list ex-wives Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie), Pitt sneakily built an ace character actor’s resume. He was Oscar-nominated for playing a socially conscious mental patient (“12 Monkeys”), a man aging backward (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and an innovative baseball general manager (“Moneyball”), which fit right in with his roles as a two-fisted incomprehensible Irishman, anarchist soap salesman, right-hand heist man, married assassin (twice), infamous outlaw, Greek warrior, World War II tank commander, scalping Nazi hunter, troubled astronaut, seductive vampire and Death.
The Academy Awards often give the “Atta-boy!” make-right to an actor who’s never won but has had a deserving career, like Pitt’s “Once Upon a Time” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio when he took best actor for “The Revenant” four years ago. While it seems like Pitt should have taken home more Academy hardware by now, he came and conquered this time for a role that encompasses everything he does so well.
In Quentin Tarantino’s 1969-set historical fable, Pitt’s Cliff Booth is a steely stunt double for fading TV and movie star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) but also the actor’s BFF, driver and all-around handyman. He’s a cool guy with a killer bod who’s equally adept at fixing TV antennas, putting martial arts masters in their place or dealing with the Manson Family, all with a grin on his weathered face. Yet like with so many of Pitt’s roles, there’s a darkness underneath the suntanned exterior, just enough to notice, that adds so many more layers to a seemingly superficial personality.
Only Pitt and Tarantino know if the in-movie rumors are true that Cliff harpooned his wife to death accidentally or on purpose (or even at all), with just a few seconds of screen time for the audience to determine an important character quality and interpret how it feels about him before the film’s ultra-violent last 20 minutes. That’s when a laid-back, drugged-out Cliff gets it together enough – and Pitt comes alive in knockout fashion – to alter heinous history.
The end? Of the movie and a few murderous hippies, yes. Of Pitt’s storybook journey? Hardly. An Oscar win probably leads to more interesting roles and even bigger swings. Though, come on, he’s Brad Pitt. He can do whatever he wants, and we’ll all live happily forever – at least in our theater seats – because of it.