Gary Busey received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story.
Gary Busey these days is not really best known for his acting prowess. These days he is better known for his personal life than his professional one, this fact causes many younger people to be quite surprised when they see the Oscar nomination line up from this year, usually exclaiming Gary Busey was nominated for an Oscar!, when did that happen.Well it did happen, and interestingly enough if I did not know Gary Busey was playing Buddy Holly I probably would not even think about the fact that he plays him.
The reason for this is he is quite effective in being rather invisible in the role. I really never saw Gary Busey playing a role for a single second of this entire performance. I don't know if I exactly saw the real Buddy Holly but a certainly saw a young man who did the same things as Buddy Holly, which is about as close one probably could get to being Holly.
Buddy Holly as portrayed in this film is a rather simple guy who has a talent. This does not at all try to be any sort of tell all story or anything like that. It mostly focuses on his music career, with just some small moments devoted to his personal life, but usually because they override with his professional life.
Busey gives an interesting performance he never attempts to show Holly as some sort of larger than life figure, instead he portrays him always in rather down to earth fashion which works for the film's portrayal of Holly. Off stage Holly just wants to do his music his way, he actually is not overly passionate about it, which Busey does not show as him not caring, but just as how realistically someone like Holly would react to opposition of his music.
He cares he wants his own way, but he shows how he cares always in a quiet rather honest realistic fashion. For example when he has his first chance to record a record with a country music record player, they want it their way he wants it as he wrote it. Busey does not yell and scream as Holly, rather more realistically he quietly rejects them and merely insists in calm authentic manner.
One of the most important parts of Busey's performance though are his various musical acts as they are a great deal of the film. Busey performs all of the songs himself, therefore he certainly has a challenge to be a believable Buddy Holly. Not so much in the way he sings, and plays, it certainly is a good thing when the actor can sing, and play well as Busey does here, but this nomination is about acting not about singing or playing the guitar.
Busey manages though to more importantly act out these scenes in the perfect fashion. He does not merely sing the songs, but fully performs them. Busey has the right charismatic stage presence in these scenes as he plays the songs with all the right energy, and passion both in the way in which he sings the songs, as well as the way he physically portrays Holly physically move on stage.
What there is of Holly's personal family life, Busey also portrays quite well even if the scenes are small and simple. The film gives a little focus, although not much to Holly's marriage to a secretary Maria. Although their romance is not a long one, or the most complex of one Busey makes it properly nice and sweet since he just portrays Holly as honestly falling in love with her in a realistic fashion. Due to how simple he portrays it though I found the romance actually quite moving in its simplicity, and found their least together to be especially heartbreaking due to this fact, and the knowledge of Holly's fate.
Although you certianly can say what you want about Busey today, I will say that in this film Busey gives an honestly effective performance as Buddy Holly. He never overplays the part which could have easily been done that way instead he gives a consistently realistic as well as convincing portrayal of Buddy Holly which works in perfect harmony with the film's depiction of Holly.