Sections of the Internet and social media are still livid that their favourites were ‘robbed’ at the Oscars on Sunday night. If my inbox is anything to go by, it’s not just people on social media and Internet forums who are baffled as to why Austin Butler, Cate Blanchett and Angela Bassett didn’t win, film fans who don’t have social media accounts are too. The latter group interests me more because they don’t get involved in battles on Twitter or TikTok and the like. They go to the cinema, see a great performance and assume that Oscar will reward it. But, the Academy has form for not always getting it right.
So, if it’s any consolation, below is a list of actors who are either still waiting for their golden statuette or waited for years before finally winning for, usually, a mediocre film that they would probably not want to be remembered for. But it’s also worth noting that some performances are so big, so impressive and so memorable that in years to come people assume the actor won an Oscar for it and that surely is the greatest compliment? No one is going to forget Austin’s electrifying Elvis or Cate’s masterclass in Tar. And Angela will be Queen in people’s minds.
Although Leo finally got the Oscar for grappling with a bear in The Revenant, his Oscar free career was the legendary stuff of funny memes for years. The Academy didn’t even nominate him for Titanic, the film he helped take to a billion dollar box office but the rot started even earlier. Leo was so good in What’s eating Gilbert Grape, that some people thought the young actor actually had learning difficulties, like his character. It was the film that made Martin Scorsese notice him but it was a no to Oscar from the Academy. There were similar brush offs for Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Great Gatsby and most egregiously The Wolf of Wall Street.
Still Oscar free, Close was absolutely robbed for her chillingly cruel, Machiavellian turn in Dangerous Liaisons. She is magnificently evil throughout the film but for one scene alone, where, finally vilified and a pariah in high society for her twisted treatment of an innocent young woman, she faces herself in the mirror and slowly removes her makeup, she deserved a dozen statuettes. But no luck. She came close again with nominations for Albert Nobbs and The Wife but was again thwarted. Olivia Colman, who beat her in 2019’s race, even apologised to Close when she went up on stage, saying “ I didn’t want it to be like this. “ Close had been expected to win.
Yes she is a two-time Oscar winner but apart from the current outcry for, arguably her greatest and most career defining performance in Tar, Cate’s losses started early. The Academy chose Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love over Blanchett’s Elizabeth which kick started her splendid career. It’s still cited as one of the worst decisions by the Academy ever. At the time the BAFTA awards used to be held after the Oscars and thankfully the British Academy saw fit to right Oscar’s wrong.
There was a time when Al should have taken his gangster friends to the Oscars to protect him because he kept getting mugged by the Academy. Unbelievably he didn’t win an Oscar for either of the first two Godfather films. Nothing, too, for Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon or Justice for all. He did finally win but for an over-the-top performance in a film that probably wouldn’t sit high his own list let alone anyone else’s, Scent of a Woman. It was clearly a “we’ve ignored his brilliance for so many years we’ve got to him something,” Oscar.
Before he finally got his trophy for Joker, Phoenix deserved it for Walk the Line where he mastered the unusual cadence of Johnny Cash’s voice and embodied the man in black impeccably only to see his co-star Reese Witherspoon take the Best Actress awards. His commanding performance in The Master also yielded no Oscar.
Some other career defining performances that didn’t win Oscars include:
Robert De Niro for Taxi Driver
Densely Washington for Malcolm X
Angela Bassett (oops, again) for What’s Love got to do with it?
Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List
Tom Cruise for Jerry Maguire, Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July
Gene Kelly for Singin’ in the Rain
Henry Fonda for 12 Angry Men
Jack Nicholson for The Shining
Judy Garland for The Wizard of Oz
Anthony Perkins for Psycho
Ingrid Bergman for Casablanca
Amy Adams, Annette Bening, Michelle Williams, Viggo Mortensen Eternals al are all still waiting to hear their name…..
The list is endless
And don’t get me started on directors and films that have been robbed or snubbed completely. David Fincher losing Best Director for The Social Network still hurts……