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Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked 
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Post Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Since the Oscar nominations just came out, I thought I'd do some outside-the-box rants against the Academy. It's interesting to consider how often the great acting performances get overlooked, and sometimes even though the actors are known commodities they don't get the recognition they deserve for their truly great work, with lesser roles getting noticed, even winning. For every Hilary Swank and Kevin Spacey, there is:

Kate Winslet - I won't continue to malign the much-maligned (and somewhat unfairly, though it was overrated by The Academy) The Reader, but it definitely wasn't the highlight of Winslet's exceptional career. It's one of the more obvious examples of the Oscar being a lifetime achievement award in all but name. Interestingly enough, though she's among the more recognized of her generation (6 noms so far) her best roles IMO didn't even get nominated: Juliet in Heavenly Creatures, Ophelia in Hamlet (the best onscreen interpretation of the role), Maddy in Quills, and April in Revolutionary Road. I love that she got nominated for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Little Children, but her other nominations were surprisingly for less-accomplished roles.

Leonardo DiCaprio - Winslet's co-star in Revolutionary Road also gave his best performance in that film, and was surprisingly overlooked. I also wish he'd gotten nominated for The Departed, even though he struggled with his accent (but that's definitely his acting Achilles heel).

Matt Damon - Who also should have been nominated for The Departed, but his best performance was in The Informant! It's likely just another example of The AMPAS underrating comedies and the acting in them, but that was definitely his best work.

Russell Crowe - Though his nomination for The Insider was 100% deserved, and certainly his other nominated roles weren't bad, but his win for Gladiator is one that pretty much defines "overrated." Meanwhile his best performance, Bud in L.A. Confidential, didn't get a nod. (Indeed Kim Basinger, who won for her role in that film, IMO didn't give one of the top 5 performances in it)

Ian Holm - It's among the real shames in Academy history that such a remarkable actor only received 1 nomination, but how his incredible work in The Sweet Hereafter wasn't nominated is among the big mysteries of recent Academy history. Egoyan got nominated in 2 categories that year, so it's not as if the Academy wasn't aware of the film, which wouldn't have been forgivable but at least more understandable.

Ian McKellan - Speaking of overlooked, great Ians: I still am amazed that his remarkable turn as Richard III didn't get a nomination, and he and the other Ian are among the best actors yet to win an Oscar. Of course much of his recent work has been in genre films or bad films, which probably plays into his lack of nominations.

Mark Wahlberg - His starmaking turn in Boogie Nights and great work for David O. Russell in Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees didn't get recognized. Shrug...

Any others? I may add some, because I know this is just scratching the surface.


Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:42 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
I feel like Gary Oldman is the patron saint of this thread. He has a ton of amazing performances that weren't nominated. For me, the best of these was in The Contender. Jeff Bridges (who was nominated for that movie) was great, but Oldman was phenomenal.


Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:26 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Since I think DiCaprio's best performance is in The Wolf of Wall Street and Crowe has several nominated performances I like better than L. A. Confidential (not that he isn't fine in it), I'm not bothered too much by their lack of nominations for particular roles.

My favorite Denzel Washington performances are in The Mighty Quinn and He Got Game, both of which I think are much better than his role in Training Day.

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Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:51 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Do I really need to say it again? Hint: it involves one of this year's nominees. Steven knows which one I'm talking about 8-)

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Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:20 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Al Pacino- out of all his great acting, the Academy chose to award him for his absolute worst performance of all time in the godawful Scene Of A Woman.

Agreed on Crowe, though his lackluster performance was the least of Gladiator's problems.

I like Wahlberg and he definitely should've won for Boogie Nights or Three Kings, but I have to say i'm happy he wasn't nominated for Huckabees, as that's easily his all-time worst performance.


Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:11 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Vexer wrote:
I like Wahlberg and he definitely should've won for Boogie Nights or Three Kings, but I have to say i'm happy he wasn't nominated for Huckabees, as that's easily his all-time worst performance.


All time worst performance? I think you are forgetting about the dogshit called The Happening.


Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:00 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
To me, the most egregiously over looked performance by an Academy Award nominated/winning actor by far is Jodie Foster in Contact. It's one of the greatest performances of all time IMO. She was amazing. The movie should have gotten nominated for best picture and director (and should have won) as well.

Other great performances not nominated:

Robin Williams in One Hour Photo
Amy Adams in Enchanted
Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go
Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Fair Game
Hilary Swank in Conviction
Viggo Mortensen and Robert Duvall in The Road
Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs
Liam Neeson in The Grey
John Hawkes in The Sessions
Jeremy Irons in The Words
Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire
Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman in Gone Baby Gone
Marcia Gay Harden in The Mist
Jack Nicholson in The Departed
Jack Nicholson in The Pledge
Robert Redford in An Unfinished Life
Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof
Tom Wilkinson in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Paul Giamatti in Sideways
Ben Kingsley in Suspect Zero
Joaquin Phoenix in Ladder 49
Tom Hanks in The Terminal
Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition
Edward Norton in 25th Hour
Billy Bob Thornton in Monster's Ball
Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive
Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums
Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys
Samuel L. Jackson in Unbreakable and The Caveman's Valentine
Renee Zellweger and Morgan Freeman in Nurse Betty
Nick Nolte in The Thin Red Line
Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential
Djimon Hounsou in Amistad
Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding
Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco
Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory
Denzel Washington in Courage Under Fire
Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire
Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly
Liam Neeson in Michael Collins
Robin Williams and Gene Hackman in The Birdcage
Samuel L. Jackson in A Time to Kill
Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris in The Rock
John Travolta in Get Shorty
Sigourney Weaver in Copycat
Nicole Kidman in To Die For
Michael Douglas and Annette Bening in The American President
Michael Douglas in Falling Down
Robert Downey Jr, Alfre Woodard in Heart & Souls


Will think of more later.


Last edited by ilovemovies on Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:28 am, edited 2 times in total.



Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:11 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Vexer wrote:
I like Wahlberg and he definitely should've won for Boogie Nights or Three Kings, but I have to say i'm happy he wasn't nominated for Huckabees, as that's easily his all-time worst performance.


All time worst performance? I think you are forgetting about the dogshit called The Happening.

Eh, I thought he was actually one of the few good things about that otherwise awful film.

Actors who have never been nominated and who deserved one:

Michael B Jordan-Fruitvale Station
Selena Gomez-Spring Breakers


Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:11 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
*sigh. I'm not here to add anything to the original topic but neither are most of you. This thread is about actors who were nominated for performances that weren't their best, and not getting nominations for the ones they really deserved. Which I think is a way cooler topic than "The most egregiously overlooked performance by the Academy of all time" which everyone seems to turn everything into.

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Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:23 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Gedmud wrote:
*sigh. I'm not here to add anything to the original topic but neither are most of you. This thread is about actors who were nominated for performances that weren't their best, and not getting nominations for the ones they really deserved. Which I think is a way cooler topic than "The most egregiously overlooked performance by the Academy of all time" which everyone seems to turn everything into.


Which excludes Edward G. Robinson, who was never nominated at all and should have been nominated several times (Scarlet Street, Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet and Double Indemnity to name three).

Charlie Chaplin got a special Oscar for The Circus to keep him from sweeping the Oscars, and it honored his acting, directing and screenwriting. I think most people would rather see him in City Lights or Modern Times, though The Circus is a very good film.

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Last edited by Syd Henderson on Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:14 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Michael Fassbender was nominated for 12 Years a Slave, in which he was fine. He's turned in several excellent performances prior to 12 Years a Slave, including Shame which seemed like an obvious choice at the time, but 12 Years a Slave is his first. It's hardly inconceivable; how were Academy voters supposed to know about Steve McQueen before made a movie about American history?

Not inconceivable in the least. Believe me, the Academy doesn't rile my feathers anymore. Longtime forum users know that about me. They exist solely to enable my gambling habits.

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Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:19 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
All this, and no one has mentioned Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo? That was one of the finest performances in cinema history, and the Academy ignored it.

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Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:57 am
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
All this, and no one has mentioned Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo? That was one of the finest performances in cinema history, and the Academy ignored it.


I actually think he was better in Rear Window, but neither got nominated. To continue the Hitchcock leading man theme, Cary Grant wasn't nominated for Notorious (nor was Ingrid Bergman, scandal!) despite it being one of the highlights of his career. His great comedic turns in Arsenic and Old Lace and Bringing up Baby were also overlooked. I haven't even seen his two Oscar-nominated roles.

Pedro, I'm with you in not getting worked up over quibbles with Academy tastes, but it's still fun for me to make said quibbles.


Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:50 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
KWRoss wrote:
Do I really need to say it again? Hint: it involves one of this year's nominees. Steven knows which one I'm talking about 8-)


Damn right I do.

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Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:14 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
All this, and no one has mentioned Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo? That was one of the finest performances in cinema history, and the Academy ignored it.

Count me as someone who's never fully bought his turn as an obsessive creep. He's Jimmy Stewart, for fuck's sake! :|


Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:07 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
That's why it works. The film counts on your perception of him as sincere and good-natured, so that he's already got your sympathy by the time the obsession starts to grow. If it had been an actor who didn't already have the audience's good will going in, the subversion wouldn't exist. The sincerity and good nature wouldn't be there and the obsession would be telegraphed.

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Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:21 pm
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Post Re: Oscar-nom'd actors whose best performances were overlooked
Honestly, I was never fully on board with him in that film... and the transformation was just kind of jarring for me. I still consider it Hitchcock's most overrated film (with "Psycho" a close-but-distant second). :| I dunno, maybe it needs a revisit.


Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:13 pm
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