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Scarlett Johansson's voice-only role in Spike Jonze's Her could be poised for Oscar history

Oct. 14, 2013by: Alex Maidy

Scarlett Johansson is going to be nominated for an Oscar someday and will probably win, but you would expect it to be in a role for which she appears on screen. Buzz is building for Spike Jonze's latest film, HER, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, and Scarlett Johansson's voice. In HER, Johansson plays the object of Phoenix's affections despite not being an actual person. Deadline is even stating that Warner Bros is looking to possibly submit the actress for awards consideration.

If you were unaware of HER, here is the synopsis:

Set in Los Angeles, slightly in the future, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet "Samantha" (Scarlett Johansson), a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.

The trailer shows a very intimate romance developing between Phoenix and the inanimate object of his affections. It sounds crazy on paper but you can see how it works in the trailer. Film festival reception has been positive. Warner Bros. has already looked into Johansson's eligibility for an acting category despite never appearing on screen in the film. If a nomination were to occur, history would be made.

Many expected the revolution in acting awards to have been triggered by Andy Serkis' amazing work in both THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy as well as RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. It is widely considered a major snub, but HER could change the way acting is looked at in various ways. While HER certainly seems intriguing, it will also remind many of the phenomenal voice work done by actors for animated films over the years (Ed Asner in UP jumps to mind).

HER opens in theaters on December 18, 2013.

Source: Deadline

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-1
11:09PM on 10/15/2013
Pfff It will only get revolutionary when we start giving oscars to robots and holograms.
Pfff It will only get revolutionary when we start giving oscars to robots and holograms.
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12:19PM on 10/15/2013
There's more to acting than your physical presence. To a blind person, Johansson is acting in this movie just as much as anyone else is.
There's more to acting than your physical presence. To a blind person, Johansson is acting in this movie just as much as anyone else is.
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12:36PM on 10/15/2013
but to a deaf person, she's not acting at all.
but to a deaf person, she's not acting at all.
11:10PM on 10/15/2013
Hahahaha @ Tae K, right on point
Hahahaha @ Tae K, right on point
11:52PM on 10/16/2013
LOL @TAE K. Good 1!
LOL @TAE K. Good 1!
-1
10:15AM on 10/15/2013
The oscars are pretty silly and shouldn't be taken too seriously. With that said, I'd be mad as hell if I was a new actor nominated, who had really worked hard to take myself to another place in a character, and I lost to a voice. So yea, I think they should make a separate category.
The oscars are pretty silly and shouldn't be taken too seriously. With that said, I'd be mad as hell if I was a new actor nominated, who had really worked hard to take myself to another place in a character, and I lost to a voice. So yea, I think they should make a separate category.
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+2
9:52AM on 10/15/2013
I'd give her an Oscar each every single day..
I'd give her an Oscar each every single day..
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8:37AM on 10/15/2013

Quick postscript

I finally watched the trailer, and I liked it. Hope the movie fulfills that potential. ScarJo does a good job here as well; I suspect she's a better actress than most people give her credit.
I finally watched the trailer, and I liked it. Hope the movie fulfills that potential. ScarJo does a good job here as well; I suspect she's a better actress than most people give her credit.
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6:47AM on 10/15/2013

Not gonna happen

For the same reason that performance capture will never get an acting nod either.

Also because I've yet to be convinced that Scarjo is anything more than an 'ok' actress. Her best asset is her body and that's not even in the movie.
For the same reason that performance capture will never get an acting nod either.

Also because I've yet to be convinced that Scarjo is anything more than an 'ok' actress. Her best asset is her body and that's not even in the movie.
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+0
6:43AM on 10/15/2013
Anyone who would be nominated for an acting award, should ACT in movie.

But it would be unfair to award and actor for a mo-cap performance when so many other people worked on the same character.
Anyone who would be nominated for an acting award, should ACT in movie.

But it would be unfair to award and actor for a mo-cap performance when so many other people worked on the same character.
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+0
1:42AM on 10/15/2013
theFUZZ008
Joaquin definitely may deserve an Oscar for this, the thing is, there is a category for 'Best supporting actress' which should certainly be open to Scarlett depending on her performance, on screen or not. Without the support from Scarlett (or any other female voice), would Joaquin pull this off?
theFUZZ008
Joaquin definitely may deserve an Oscar for this, the thing is, there is a category for 'Best supporting actress' which should certainly be open to Scarlett depending on her performance, on screen or not. Without the support from Scarlett (or any other female voice), would Joaquin pull this off?
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-1
11:50PM on 10/14/2013
That would be a very odd as her role doesn't seem to entail much but bouncing off Pheonix. However, I will reserve judgement for the film. That said, I am very much looking forward to this. Between Spike Jonze directing and the cast, this looks like a great film. This kind of goes hand in hand with Walter Mitty to me as two films that could prove to provide massive weight at the theater.
That would be a very odd as her role doesn't seem to entail much but bouncing off Pheonix. However, I will reserve judgement for the film. That said, I am very much looking forward to this. Between Spike Jonze directing and the cast, this looks like a great film. This kind of goes hand in hand with Walter Mitty to me as two films that could prove to provide massive weight at the theater.
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11:08PM on 10/14/2013
If she gets a nomination that will be dumb as fuck. Motion Capture I could possibly see, but this bullshit no.
If she gets a nomination that will be dumb as fuck. Motion Capture I could possibly see, but this bullshit no.
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10:52PM on 10/14/2013

A frivolous article

Perhaps they should nominate the person who is onscreen, really SELLING the performance. I'm sure it is a great voice performance, but the person making you believe he's falling in love is the man emoting onscreen, Joaquin Phoenix.
Perhaps they should nominate the person who is onscreen, really SELLING the performance. I'm sure it is a great voice performance, but the person making you believe he's falling in love is the man emoting onscreen, Joaquin Phoenix.
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10:52PM on 10/14/2013

I'll believe it when I see it, but

it's high time Hollywood recognized voice acting/motion-capture work as the valid art form it is. Quite a few respected actors (Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Reese Witherspoon) have died in the voice booth, and it's incredible what some of the top voice actors, like John DiMaggio or Maurice LaMarche, can do. On the mo-cap side, Tom Hanks' motion-capture work in THE POLAR EXPRESS was exceptional (too bad the digital rendering sucked) and Andy Serkis is already a legend for Caesar and
it's high time Hollywood recognized voice acting/motion-capture work as the valid art form it is. Quite a few respected actors (Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Reese Witherspoon) have died in the voice booth, and it's incredible what some of the top voice actors, like John DiMaggio or Maurice LaMarche, can do. On the mo-cap side, Tom Hanks' motion-capture work in THE POLAR EXPRESS was exceptional (too bad the digital rendering sucked) and Andy Serkis is already a legend for Caesar and Gollum.

It's sad that ScarJo would be the first voice actor so recognized (not that she isn't good, but there are many legends who deserve the recognition more), but it's high time the Oscars had a category for voice/motion-capture acting.
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10:09PM on 10/14/2013
This is why they fought so hard after Robin Williams' voice acting in ALADDIN.
This is why they fought so hard after Robin Williams' voice acting in ALADDIN.
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9:29PM on 10/14/2013
I've been saying for years that there should be a category just for voice performances (Johnny Depp in Rango? Tom Hanks in Toy Story? Kevin Spacey in Moon? Etc.) and motion capture performances (Andy Serkis in LOTR or King Kong). You could have one category for both: Best Actor/Actress In A Vocal-Only or Motion Capture Performance. Something like that.
I've been saying for years that there should be a category just for voice performances (Johnny Depp in Rango? Tom Hanks in Toy Story? Kevin Spacey in Moon? Etc.) and motion capture performances (Andy Serkis in LOTR or King Kong). You could have one category for both: Best Actor/Actress In A Vocal-Only or Motion Capture Performance. Something like that.
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9:27PM on 10/14/2013
I'm still excited as hell for the film though.
I'm still excited as hell for the film though.
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9:26PM on 10/14/2013
I think it's pretty stupid and is insulting to any actor who appears on screen actually acting. I'm not saying voice work isn't acting or doesn't require emotion, but it's not like Marvel is going to try to get James Spader nominated for voicing Ultron.
I think it's pretty stupid and is insulting to any actor who appears on screen actually acting. I'm not saying voice work isn't acting or doesn't require emotion, but it's not like Marvel is going to try to get James Spader nominated for voicing Ultron.
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10:11AM on 10/15/2013
Understand your point but you know that's a poor comparison
Understand your point but you know that's a poor comparison
9:25PM on 10/14/2013
The knee-jerk reaction to this would be how ridiculous it seems, but then again, Linda Blair got a Supporting Actress nomination for what could be argued as a reversal of this situation: being onscreen as a physical performance, but dubbed by Mercedes McCambridge for a good chunk of the film. Yes, her chances of actually winning were killed when it was revealed that she had been dubbed (which they admitted to after the nomination), but still, something to consider.
The knee-jerk reaction to this would be how ridiculous it seems, but then again, Linda Blair got a Supporting Actress nomination for what could be argued as a reversal of this situation: being onscreen as a physical performance, but dubbed by Mercedes McCambridge for a good chunk of the film. Yes, her chances of actually winning were killed when it was revealed that she had been dubbed (which they admitted to after the nomination), but still, something to consider.
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9:21PM on 10/14/2013
"And the Oscar goes to...Paul Bettany for Iron Man 3!"

ScarJo: "Darn."
"And the Oscar goes to...Paul Bettany for Iron Man 3!"

ScarJo: "Darn."
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11:41PM on 10/14/2013
Dude, why would Scarlett be upset that a actor won one?...She's an actRESS, so there would be no competition.

You should have picked a better scenario. You know, one with an actress winning for doing voiceover.
Dude, why would Scarlett be upset that a actor won one?...She's an actRESS, so there would be no competition.

You should have picked a better scenario. You know, one with an actress winning for doing voiceover.
9:16PM on 10/14/2013
Interesting, to say the least.
Interesting, to say the least.
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9:08PM on 10/14/2013
Gimmicky
Gimmicky
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9:07PM on 10/14/2013
I mean if all the other countless actors who have done voice-overs for various animated movies have never been nominated for anything, what makes her any different?
I mean if all the other countless actors who have done voice-overs for various animated movies have never been nominated for anything, what makes her any different?
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8:53PM on 10/14/2013
I'm sure her performance is good, but nominating someone for only doing voice over work with actors/actresses appearing on screen just seems stupid and insulting. I mean, she could literally phone in her performance.
I'm sure her performance is good, but nominating someone for only doing voice over work with actors/actresses appearing on screen just seems stupid and insulting. I mean, she could literally phone in her performance.
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8:48PM on 10/14/2013
Suggesting she will be nominated seems silly. Especially when there are no quotes or opinions in the article to support this.
Suggesting she will be nominated seems silly. Especially when there are no quotes or opinions in the article to support this.
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