Andrew Garfield Is Charming the Pants Off Everyone This Oscar Season

·5 min read
Courtesy Everett Collection/Netflix
Courtesy Everett Collection/Netflix

Every year, awards season grants film-lovers and people who generally enjoy celebrities an abundance of amusing soundbites, clips, and snafus leading up to the Oscars. So far, Lady Gaga has inundated us with bizarre, questionable facts about her transformation into House of Gucci’s Patrizia Reggiani. Denzel Washington had his own viral “sorry to this man” moment when asked about Snowfall actor Damson Idris during several red carpet interviews. Nicolas Cage spoke about his beef with a horse at a roundtable. Arguably though, no one has enjoyed more virality on their quest for the little golden statuette than Best Actor contender Andrew Garfield.

As someone who was obsessed with The Social Network in 2010—and later feigned interest in Spider-Man when he inherited the role in 2012—I was shocked at the amount of people on Twitter who had seemingly never considered Garfield a celebrity crush or were aware of his deeply earnest personality until his most recent press tour for his Netflix movie tick, tick…BOOM!, for which he’ll most likely score an Oscar nomination. (To be fair, some of the internet users I observed were younger).

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what triggered social media’s newfound admiration for the 38-year-old actor, since his resurgence in popularity has mostly centered around interviews and dug-up clips as opposed to his actual performance in the musical film or his uncanny portrayal of Jim Bakker in his other big 2021 movie The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Nevertheless, a Garfieldaissance is certainly upon us.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Tick, Tick...Boom!’ Is a Musical Theater Nerd’s Dream

One clip that made the rounds on Twitter at the start of Garfield’s press tour was an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which the actor, while discussing his portrayal of the late playwright and composer Jonathan Larson, expressed grief over his recently deceased mother. Oddly enough, this deeply somber moment seemed to awaken something in users who had previously ignored his work and public persona. Considering there’s nothing millennials and Gen Zers love more than a cishet man who seems in touch with his feelings (i.e., Keanu Reeves), Garfield is now experiencing a new wave of social media thirst and the title of the Internet’s Boyfriend.

Likewise, Garfield’s poetic, flowery way of speaking in interviews and displayed spirituality and introspectiveness has given him the “soft-boi before he screws you over” appeal embodied by a new kind of male Hollywood heartthrob. Additionally, the internet has been rather amused by what some harsher critics might consider “queerbaiting” regarding his displayed affection and touchy-feely-ness with male peers Dev Patel, his former roommate Jamie Dornan, Ryan Reynolds, and Colbert in a previous Late Show appearance, despite identifying as heterosexual. Surprisingly, Garfield’s admirers have barely acknowledged that many of these moments occurred during his previous Oscars campaign for 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge, directed by noted antisemite and racist Mel Gibson.

Aside from being fawned over, Garfield’s long-speculated cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home this past December sent comic-book fans into a frenzy and ignited a reappraisal of his much-derided The Amazing Spider-Man film series—in addition to No Way Home offering his version of Peter Parker his own redemption arc. Correspondingly—much like his insistence that he had never sung prior to making tick, tick…BOOM!—he’s been emphasizing his hard work and commitment to the Marvel sequel in recent interviews, specifically how he managed to keep the cameo a secret for two years. The blockbuster is also vying for a Best Picture nomination after experiencing critical and record-breaking box office success.

So, how does having a moment like Garfield’s factor into his bid for the Oscar? Awards-tracking websites Gold Derby and Variety have placed Garfield in second place in their Best Actor predictions behind Will Smith for King Richard. A couple of weeks ago, he nabbed a crucial Screen Actors Guild nomination. And his recent Golden Globes win for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy would obviously be more meaningful in a year where the disgraced ceremony wasn’t canceled by all of Hollywood.

I asked entertainment writer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast Chris Feil what this sort of external fanfare means—in addition to the critical acclaim Garfield has received for tick, tick…BOOM!

“While Academy voters aren’t swayed by the conversations happening on the internet (for example, Bohemian Rhapsody winning an Editing Oscar when the film’s shoddy assemblage was memed to death during its campaign), there is a lot of power in an actor who is having a moment,” Feil told The Daily Beast. “Ditto if they have many prominent projects at once, like Garfield has right now. They won’t nominate him for Spider-Man, but having a redemption narrative adjacent to his work in tick, tick…BOOM! certainly helps.”

Garfield’s main competition, Smith, has also been noticeably quiet thus far in his Oscar campaign following a rather chaotic, TMI press tour for his autobiography. He’s noticeably absent from Variety Studio’s upcoming Actors on Actors series and missed out on both The Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times Best Actor roundtables. Dan Montgomery at Gold Derby suggests that we might be in for an Eddie Redmayne/Michael Keaton upset come March’s ceremony. However, Feil still believes the odds are in Smith’s favor.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Andrew Garfield in <em>Spider-Man: No Way Home</em></p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Marvel</div>

Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man: No Way Home

Marvel

“Even though he’s been mostly MIA on the campaign stops Garfield has been doing, Smith is still likely in the lead regardless,” Feil said. “He’s giving the type of performance they regularly reward, but even more so, he’s a Hollywood icon with an overdue narrative. It helps that they are both possible Best Picture nominees, but King Richard is coming on stronger in that regard, which also benefits Smith’s chances.”

With a good two months until the Oscars ceremony, Garfield stans will have plenty of red carpet moments, celebrity interactions, and maybe even acceptance speeches to keep them satisfied. Even if he comes up short, the internet’s affection has proven to be a valuable prize.

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