A lot of oddsmakers are talking up Jean Dujardin for his silent turn in the mostly speechless The Artist.
And Max Von Sydow is getting a supporting push for playing a traumatized man who communicates via facial expressions and note writing in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
But a friend of mine commented, “You can’t win an Oscar for not saying anything.”
In the 1920s, actors like Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings won Oscars for silent films.
And that’s not all.
How about …
John Mills, who won Best Supporting Actor as the town idiot in 1970’s Ryan’s Daughter?
And Jane Wyman, who won Best Actress for her turn as a raped deaf-mute girl in 1948’s Johnny Belinda?
Almost but no cigar are Best Supporting Actress Patty Duke for 1962’s The Miracle Worker (she grunted a lot and said “Wah wah”) and Marlee Matlin, Best Actress for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God. (She spoke a lot, in her own inimitable way.)
But still, it can happen.
Do you hear me?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 15, 2011