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Sage: Look…from the moment the poll went live, the Most Handsome Young Man of 2022 was Andrew Garfield’s to lose. And lose he decidedly did not. While our other handsome nominees and their fans made a valiant effort, Peter Three was impossible to catch — and we couldn’t be more delighted. To join us in this roundtable celebrating our newly crowned MHYM, we’ve invited your This Is Us recapper and A. Garf campaign manager, Shannon. So without further ado, let’s get into why this honor is so well-deserved.
Kim: Obviously I loved Andrew Garfield in his breakout role as Eduardo Saverin in 2010’s The Social Network and his subsequent Oscar snub remains at the top of my list of egregious mistakes 12 years later. I don’t understand it! How does one watch the “You better lawyer up, asshole!” scene and not even give this man a NOMINATION. Someone please explain it to me, because from my point of view he not only should have been nominated, he should have WON Best Supporting Actor that year. I thought his Spider-Man movies were FINE, and that he was a much better Peter Parker than they deserved. And then the combination of Hacksaw Ridge and Silence made me irrationally (rationally? It was Mel Gibson, Andrew, come on!) angry at him and much like Joey Tribbiani would, I punished him for five solid years.
By the end of tick, tick…BOOM’s “30/90,” I was like, “Oh no, it may be time to forgive Andrew Garfield.” By the end of “Sunday,” I had completely forgiven him and by the time that single tear fell during “Louder than Words,” I had decided that if Andrew Garfield didn’t win the Oscar for this, I was going to burn Hollywood to the ground. It was like the dam had broken and five years of repressed love for him came rushing out. I had no control over it. How can you not love this man?
Shannon: Theater (or theater-adjacent) work was my way into loving Andrew Garfield, too — though I OBVIOUSLY agree with Kim about The Social Network snub. That shit was egregious.
Anyway, back in 2012 I saw Andrew play the Biff to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Willy Loman, and my overwhelming affection for that production carried me through his more questionable cinematic choices. Then came the 2018 Angels in America and his magnificent, Tony award winning Prior Walter, and I found myself placing Andrew Garfield on the list of people I would go see on stage doing anything, ever. Clearly MHYM alum Lin-Manuel Miranda agreed with me, because that production of Angels is what gave him the idea to cast Andrew as Jonathan Larson. And what spectacular casting it was, too. From the moment I saw him lounging on that couch in the teaser trailer for tick, tick…BOOM, I was invested. The movie more than held up to the trailer’s promise, and Andrew’s open heart and neurotic creative spirit poured through every frame. Plus he spends a lot of time looking sad and stressed out in front of a piano, which is one of my very favorite brands of handsome men.
Sage: Where is the dating app specifically for finding sad and stressed out piano men who will most certainly ghost you but at least write a song about it?? That’s a service I would pay for.
Like Shannon, I saw and adored that production of Angels and sobbed my way through Andrew’s closing monologue. History dictates that there’s a surefire way to my heart, and it’s being cast as Prior Walter and then turning in a stellar, heartbreaking performance. I’ll also always remember that he listed Doctor Who in his bio for that show despite enduring 10+ years of ribbing for his questionable Southern U.S. accent in those episodes and the fact that his character was almost eaten by a rabid gang of human-pig hybrids. At least he looked cute as a button in that little newsboy cap!
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and posit that one thing about Andrew that all three of us respond to is his earnestness. He’s not afraid to be caught looking like he cares; in fact, he cared so much about the potential of his Peter Parker that it basically lost him the franchise. If Sony had listened to their star, Spider-Man would have been moving on from the loss of Gwen Stacy with his new boyfriend — didn’t we almost have it all?
Kim: Honestly, I think that was the most refreshing thing about seeing Andrew back in the Spidey suit. He OBVIOUSLY cared about being there and no one was having more fun in No Way Home than he was. Peter Parker, to borrow again from Lin-Manel Miranda, has always been Andrew Garfield’s great unfinished symphony and every minute he spent on screen was infused with a healing sense of giddiness. We got so much of him?? It was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood that Andrew and Tobey Maguire were suiting up again, but I was just expecting a glorified cameo. I wasn’t expecting that he would be around for the entire third act of the movie! I’ll never forget it either; in the quiet post-May cut to MJ and Ned, Shannon went to the bathroom. It seemed like a smart move! We had just finished a tentpole action scene, it felt like the movie needed to take a moment to breathe. Then like 2 minutes later, Ned is opening a portal and the theatre starts screaming when a Peter that we KNOW is not our Peter steps through and all I could think was “Oh FUCK, I can’t believe Shannon is going to miss Andrew Garfield!!!!”
Shannon: LISTEN, IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME. I guess I was the only MCU fan who believed this man every single time he lied to our faces, because no part of me truly expected to see both of those boys again. Certainly not at such a seemingly chill entry point!
I absolutely agree, though, that Andrew’s unfaltering excitement at being back in the Spidey suit was key – both to the movie, and to all of us falling even more in love with him. Honestly, that’s one of my favorite qualities in a movie star in general and top of the “how to make me fall in love with your superhero” list. Give me RDJ answering to Tony, give me Charlie Cox threatening to beat up whoever else dares wear his suit, and give me Andrew Garfield barely acting as he tells Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland that he always wanted brothers. His sincerity is never cloying; his generosity of spirit for both his characters and his co-stars is radiant. And is ANYONE out here having more fun during this Oscar campaign season? I think not.
Kim: You are absolutely right. I was saying to Sage the other day that no one wants this Oscar Nomination more than he does right now. (It’s big Taron Egerton’s Rocketman campaign vibes, but I think it’s gonna end differently for Andrew.) It’s like Andrew’s refusing to accept the narrative that the Academy is just gonna hand that Best Actor Oscar over to Will Smith for King Richard, and you know what? I’m here for it. He turned in a brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance in ttB, but we all know that so much more than that goes into an awards run. Quite frankly, he’s running a brilliant campaign right now. Momentum is a huge factor in Awards Season, and boy, is Andrew capitalizing on the big burst of love and nostalgia he got from being in the biggest movie in the world right now. He’s everywhere, from The Hollywood Reporter’s annual actor roundtable to viral interview bits like Thirst Tweets and Wired’s Autocomplete Interview to a truly touching interview with Stephen Colbert, who always seems to bring out the best in him. One of the only reasons I’m sad that the Golden Globes didn’t air is that you know he would have given one hell of a speech that would have further endeared him to Academy voters. But the crazy thing to me is that he doesn’t come off as overexposed or thirsty or really, really desperate for validation. He has what feels like a genuine joy for his experience on tick, tick…BOOM! and really, he just wants to talk about it to anyone who will listen. Someone who likes liking things? That’s really handsome.
Sage: I believe it’s in that actors’ roundtable where Andrew talks about the therapeutic experience of taking voice lessons for ttB and how he actually wept when he was finally able to tap into the power that was inside of him the whole time. Natural talent is a gift, but there’s something so beautiful about an artist who’s willing to take a chance at something they might not be good at and to truly work at something until they crack it. And that’s one of the reasons his performance in that movie is so very moving. He wanted it so bad, and you can feel that effort in the best way.
Not to get all parasocial on you, but I just get the sense that this guy holds onto things, and that’s refreshing in our cynical world. Just look at his relationship with former long-time girlfriend Emma Stone — there’s clearly still so much respect and love there, though he also lied to her about his Spidey return. The man is a vault.
Shannon: Nothing is more attractive to me than a man trying real hard to sing and mostly doing a great job at it. And that healing energy comes right through and makes the performance feel so earned. I get the feeling, too, that Emma’s turn in Cabaret is part of what inspired him and he’s brought that up on the circuit — yet another top quality, to speak well and respectfully of exes and speak to personal growth!
All in all, a most excellent MHYM. No notes.
Kim: Much an Oscar campaign, Most Handsome Young Man is about so much more than being handsome. It’s about a moment. A perfect sliver of time where someone is connecting with the general public in a way they haven’t before. Don’t get me wrong. Andrew Garfield is incredibly handsome and he’s doing that thing that men always seem to do, which is just get more handsome with age. (He also looks like the boy I loved all through high school, which is just a mind fuck sometimes, but it’s a mind fuck I’m fine with!) But it’s undeniable that Andrew Garfield is having a moment right now, a moment where he’s seeing several years of hard work come to fruition, and a moment that deserves to be celebrated. Handsomely.
If you voted for Andrew for Most Handsome Young Man, tell us why in the comments!
Featured Image Source: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert/YouTube