Early buzz on Heath Ledger's performance in "The Dark Knight" has plenty of people mentioning the "O" word (Oscar) in regards to his performance. In the Rolling Stone review of the movie, Peter Travers states "I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as the Joker. Miles from Jack Nicholson's broadly funny take on the role in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, Ledger takes the role to the shadows, where even what's comic is hardly a relief." Travers goes on to say "If there's a movement to get him the first posthumous Oscar since Peter Finch won for 1976's Network, sign me up."
Ledger's Dark Knight co-stars, including Gary Oldman, also have nothing but praise for his performance. In an article on MTV.com, Oldman is quoted saying "I think it's one of the most psychologically scariest screen villains ever; I think it out-villains Hannibal Lecter...It would surprise me if he didn't get a posthumous Oscar for it." In a New York Times interview, Dark Knight's director, Chris Nolan, said "he felt a 'massive sense of responsibility' to do right by Mr. Ledger’s 'terrifying, amazing' performance. 'It’s stunning, it’s iconic...It’s going to just blow people away.'”
I was already anxiously awaiting this movie, but now even more so. Heath Ledger was a great young actor. One of the best from his generation. I thought he was both brave for taking the role in "Brokeback Mountain" and phenomenal in his portrayal of Ennis. From all accounts, Heath really immersed himself in the role of the Joker, so I have no doubt that his performance will be spot-on whether he gets a nomination or not. History might be working against him though as far as the nomination. According to the Gold Derby site, only one acting Oscar has ever been bestowed posthumously, and that was to Peter Finch for his role as Howard Beale in "Network."
We won't have long to wait to see if all the buzz is merited. "The Dark Knight" is released on July 18th.