Brendan Fraser gave a teary and metaphor-laden acceptance speech for Best Actor at the 2023 Academy Awards. Fraser has been on a career-redefining, statue-collecting journey this awards season. For his performance in The Whale, Fraser won an award at TIFF, got a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, won at the SAGs, and took awards at any number of critics’ circles. He didn’t win the BAFTA or the Golden Globe, but the latter wasn’t exactly a surprise.
“I’m grateful to Darren for throwing me a creative lifetime and hauling me aboard the good ship The Whale,” Fraser said. “It was written by Samuel D. Hunter, who is our lighthouse.” Of his fellow nominees, he said, “Gentlemen, you laid your whale-sized hearts bare so that we could see into your souls like no one else could do, and it is my honor to be named alongside you in this category.” But the sea metaphors did not stop there. Fraser thanked Hong Chau, who he said had a depth of talent only whales can reach.
Fraser’s comeback tour has had a mixed reception. While some were more than happy to welcome back Fraser into the spotlight, others didn’t like that it came from donning a fat suit and serving “pity, buried under a thick, smothering layer of contempt,” as Polygon put it. The Academy, after awarding the film Best Makeup and Hairstyling, was definitely in the former camp.