I was surprised as I sat watching the 2003 Academy Award ceremony. Up for Best Actor was previous winners Jack Nicholson (for About Schmidt), Nicolas Cage (for Adaptation), Daniel Day-Lewis (for Gangs of New York – seemingly the favorite to win), and Michael Caine (for The Quiet American). And, the fifth nominee? A relatively unknown young actor named Adrien Brody. Up against the big guns, few people expected Brody to win. He was not a big name, he was up against brilliant actors, and Roman Polanski, a Hollywood outcast who would not even attend the ceremony for fear of incarceration due to an earlier conviction, directed the movie for which he was nominated.
But win is exactly what he did, taking home the statue for his excellent portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist. With this win, he became the youngest actor ever to win the Best Actor award. Living in a small town, I did not get the see The Pianist until after Adrien had won. I went alone because my husband was working and this was not really his type of movie anyhow. As I sat in the dark theatre, I understood exactly why Adrien Brody had won the Oscar. In playing Szpilman, a concert pianist prosecuted by the Nazis during World War II, his showed us Szpilman’s strength in the eye’s of despair by conveyed class, charm, and will to survive under even the most adverse of conditions. To get into character, Brody cut himself off from family and friends, gave up his car, and apartment, learned to play Chopin (so the piano sequences would look realistic), and even lost 30 pounds on his already slender body.
I never thought The Pianist was something I would want to purchase on DVD, even after I saw it the first time. After all, it is not exactly a feel good movie. But, the more I thought about Brody’s amazing performance, the more I realized I wanted this DVD in my collection. And, I do occasionally watch it.
Since then, I have tried to make a point to catch other movies Adrien Brody has been in. After watching him in The Village, Dummy, and The Jacket, I realize that he puts his all into each performance and I hope to continue to see him in great movies.
If you have not seen any of Adrien Brody’s movies, they can be purchased at Amazon.com.