By Scott Brown
September 28, 2006 at 02:00 PM EDT

I’ll keep this quick: Forest Whitaker. Oscar nomination. Now! I decree it!

Sorry to get all dictatorial on you, but Whitaker’s work in The Last King of Scotland (the fictional yet all-too-reality-based chronicle of strongman Idi Amin’s Uganda, opening this weekend), is the sort of performance awards are gold-plated for. Working with an excellent foil (James McAvoy, who plays Amin’s louche, cocksure personal physician), Whitaker marshals his protean bulk in quick and unpredictable directions, keeping you off-guard, off balance, seducing you one minute and nauseating you the next . Instead of shying from caricature, Whitaker borrows from it and cannily positions his Amin somewhere between the stereotypical Western perception of a clownish, bloodthirsty African dictator and the more mundane horror of the man himself. He’s playing not just a character but an idea, and he does it with grace.

Mr. Whitaker, please meet Ms. Streep at the Preemptive Prediction table. We’ll be seating your tablemates presently…