On Thursday, while comic book fans (and movie fans in general) across the globe celebrated [movieperson id="233661"]Heath Ledger's[/movieperson] inevitable — and well-deserved — Best Supporting Actor nomination for "The Dark Knight," January 22 also holds a more somber place in film history.
One year before, to the day, news broke that Heath Ledger had tragically died of what would later be deemed as an accidental prescription-drug overdose.
Usually — unless you're a hard-core film buff — Academy Awards season means nothing except anticipation for outrageous red-carpet fashions or office pools featuring films that most of us haven't even seen yet. But this year's announcements had even casual moviegoers glued to TV sets and Internet streams, waiting to hear Ledger's name called for a role that the actor clearly gave his all to.
"It was an exhausting process," Ledger explained to MTV News in November 2007. "I actually had quite a bit of time off between scenes — weeks sometimes. But it was required because whenever I was working, it exhausted me to the bone. At the end of the day, I couldn't move. I couldn't talk. I was absolutely wrecked. If I had to do that every day, I couldn't have done what I did."
And that performance came through. After a posthumous win at this year's Golden Globes, Ledger now stands as the arguable frontrunner against [movieperson id="28930"]Philip Seymour Hoffman[/movieperson], [movieperson id="7725"]Josh Brolin[/movieperson], [movieperson id="17609"]Robert Downey Jr.[/movieperson] and Michael Shannon. And it's nearly impossible to find a story about the record-breaking, critically acclaimed "Dark Knight" in which Ledger's name isn't mentioned as the stand-out feature of the film.
"Heath has given an incredible performance, a real definition of the character that I think will be incredibly memorable for years to come," co-star [movieperson id="3146"]Christian Bale[/movieperson] said of Ledger's work as the Joker. "I want to do nothing but celebrate his work."
Granted, all of the Oscar nominees deserve praise for their efforts in their given categories, but it's clear that Hollywood — and the film world in general — will be buzzing about Ledger in the weeks leading up to the February 22 ceremony. Win or lose — a gifted actor with years of potential still ahead of him was taken from us far too early.
Will it be a curious night for "Benjamin Button"? Can "Slumdog Millionaire" rise out of obscurity to grab Oscar gold? Will Brad Pitt surprise leading contenders Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn? The MTV Movies team has the Academy Awards covered every which way, with news, interviews, photos and more. Check out a complete list of the Oscar nominees here, and keep it locked on MTVNews.com until the statues are handed out on February 22.
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