Brief Thoughts on Eddie Murphy
I haven't seen Little Miss Sunshine yet (nor, for that matter, Little Children, Blood Diamonds, or The Departed), so I'm certainly not going to say that Eddie Murphy should have won last night. But I did want to comment on some criticism of Murphy that I read somewhere (don't remember where) around why he shouldn't win.
1 - He was somewhat dismissive in some interviews of the nomination; he didn't seem to want it enough.
Well, that's just crap. I don't care if he attacked the Oscars in print; I don't care if he said he didn't want it outright. The award should go to the most worthy performance, and that is it. (Yes, I realize that in the real world this rarely happens, but still.)
2 - He admitted that the much praised moment in the film when he finds out that his socially conscious comeback album won't be produced and starts to get ready to shoot up, and at the cries of dismay from his mistress shoots her a steely, defeated look, wasn't calculated. He said something about someone on set marvelling at the moment and the look (as many critics did) and him (Murphy) not knowing what they were talking about. He hadn't realized that he had given a "look." Accordingly, he doesn't deserve the award.
This one is even dumber. The goal of many an actor is to lose themselves in a character to the point that they don't have to consciously think about reacting; they instead just react as the character. So that Murphy didn't sculpt that "look" in the mirror is not evidence of his laziness or lack of skill, but just evidence that he takes a instinctual approach to acting. All we as an audience need be concerned with is if it works.
As an aside, I've heard a similar criticism levied against actresses who use "aids" to cry in a scene. Onions, whatever. The charge is that an actress who can't really cry is a bad actress. Nonsense. Acting is about convincing an audience of a character's emotions and reality. That's it. And no matter how he or she is doing it, if they are doing it, and well, then they are doing good work.