Justice for Timothée Chalamet


Abigail Finnerty '19, Clubs and Classes Editor

This article was promised to you if Timothée Chalamet didn’t win the Best Actor at the Oscars, and guess what? He didn’t. Unfortunately, justice was not served on March 4, 2018.  But, I promise you, someday, it will. The thing is…maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t win an Oscar (I know, did I really just say that?). However, young male Oscar winners’ careers haven’t always turned out the best. So, let’s dive into why it’s a good thing that Timmy didn’t win an Oscar at age 22.

During the ceremony on Sunday night, whenever cameras cut to Chalamet (which was often), he was an exuberant ball of energy. He was never once sitting entirely in his seat. He leaned toward the stage, on edge, mouth wide open, laughing as Jimmy Kimmel pretty much called him a six-year-old. One of Kimmel’s notable jabs towards Chalamet was, “Timothée is missing Paw Patrol to be here tonight.” Though he absolutely deserved to be in that audience, he has spent the past few months trying to comprehend how he’s gone from being a kid from LaGuardia High who rapped about statistics to being in the same category as Denzel Washington.

Now, just imagine if he had won: up there in his all-white tux, struggling to find words. Maybe crying, maybe yelling, and most definitely thanking Kid Cudi or Cardi B. On a night that didn’t have many surprises or iconic speeches (except for Frances McDormand’s and Sam Rockwell’s), an acceptance speech from Chalamet would’ve been a highlight. Instead, Gary Oldman took home Best Actor. I’ve already forgotten his speech.

But don’t cry for Chalamet—in this business, rejection is important.

Losing his first shot at an Oscar on Sunday night may push him to continue working with interesting, skilled directors and to stay out of the arms of the DC extended universe. Imagine: “Coming in 2020, Timothée Chalamet is…Batman.” I would CHOKE! Those who lose at the Oscars at a young age tend to return, and while that’s partially because they’re gifted actors, it’s also because that level of rejection is an incentive to take roles in the complex, attention-grabbing types of movies the Academy historically treasures. A year after Ryan Gosling lost at 26 for Half Nelson, he starred in the very weird but very well-made Lars and the Real Girl, which earned him even more critical acclaim. A year after Ben Affleck became the youngest person to ever win Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, he starred in Armageddon, an infamously cheesy movie. And less than a decade after that, Affleck literally made a movie called Paycheck. (Hmm, maybe what I really should be exploring is Ben Affleck’s career and life choices.)

The easiest comparison to make for Chalamet is Leonardo DiCaprio. Both actors came up on television (Leo on Growing Pains and Roseanne, and Timmy on Homeland), both were nominated for Oscars at young ages for their first true acting showcases (DiCaprio was nominated at 19 for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), both bring their moms everywhere, and both notably make questionable sweater choices. DiCaprio’s career has been defined by his tireless quest for an Oscar, which finally came to an end after four losses when he won in 2016 for fighting off a giant bear in The Revenant. After Titanic in 1997, DiCaprio was, at 23, one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. He could’ve cashed in and had some sort of Affleck-like career. And yet, with the Oscars loss in mind, he worked exclusively with prestigious directors, taking on roles that required acting acrobatics—screaming internally and digging deeper into that commitment with each subsequent loss. That’s how he ended up portraying a maniac in a Quentin Tarantino movie, and then almost dying several times in The Revenant. DiCaprio’s decisions were fogged by the constant rejection of his peers.

Maybe Chalamet doesn’t have the same burning desire for approval that DiCaprio did. I hope fifteen years from now we won’t see him biting into buffalo liver. But nonetheless, his career is going to remain interesting. As robbed as he may have been on Sunday night, losing at the Oscars at an early age is a rite of passage for those who go on to become the most decorated stars in the industry. It’s an important, almost necessary step. Thank goodness Chalamet had to take it Sunday night. Now we will just have many more events of Timmy reaching for that Oscar with years and years of great roles and films. Still, feel free to shout “JUSTICE FOR TIMMY” to me in the halls. Obviously, I’ll greatly appreciate it!