Jim Carrey for Best Actor for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d
– From the poem Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope
Comedians have a tough time at the Academy. They are hardly ever nominated. Back in the 90s, Jim Carrey was the reigning King of whacked-out mainstream comedies. In the late 90s and sometimes in the 2000s, he decided to shake things up a little and show off his range. And he killed it. Well, not always in the right movies (remember 2007’s The Number 23?), but when he did, he really killed it.
The Academy seems to pretty much appreciate and reward comedians when they step out of their comfort zone and take on darker dramatic roles. Yet it didn’t happen when Carrey turned up in a Best Actor-worthy performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The film’s plot is about an estranged couple – emotionally withdrawn, needy Joel Barish and unrestrained free spirit Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet in an Oscar-nominated turn) – who have each other erased from their memories. It’s a great one and features great lead performances by Carrey and Winslet.
His performance is riveting and subtler than anything he did before. He makes diving into Joel’s head, witness his relationship with Clementine and his desire to preserve its memory, as well as his interior life and emotional process very compelling viewing. He perfectly embodies his restrainment and his heart-brokenness just as well as he expresses how he falls in love all over again and understands that maybe forgetfulness isn’t the only comfort after the end of a love affair. Carrey’s awards tour for Eternal Sunshine is also interesting because he was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy, while this one is actually a darker film than The Truman Show (1998), which earned him the Globe for Best Actor – Drama, as well as Oscar buzz. It just feels odd – and wrong – that the Academy decided to pass on him considering he had everything in his favor.