5 Actors That Are Overdue For An Oscar Nomination

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
February 21, 2012 4:31 PM
30 Comments
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Among the five Best Actor nominees at this Sunday's Academy Awards, there's one person who should have been sitting in the Kodak Theater long ago. At long last, Gary Oldman, one of the actors whose lack of awards recognition has long been lamented, gets to book a tuxedo and a limo, and call himself an Oscar nominee, thanks to his superb, understated performance as George Smiley in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

So now that Oldman has got his long-awaited nomination, who's next on the hitlist? As part of our coverage in countdown to the Oscars, we've picked out five actors (along with a slew of honorable mentions) who have also somehow gone their careers without ever picking up Oscar nominations, despite turning in a number of acclaimed performances. Could any of them follow Oldman to glory? We'll have to see in the next few years. And once you're done here, take a look at our list of the actress who are also overdue for Oscar recognition.

Guy Pearce

Nomination-Worthy Roles: Ed Exley in "L.A. Confidential"; Leonard Shelby in "Memento"; Charlie Burns in "The Proposition"
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? His great roles were never exactly Oscar material, bar "L.A. Confidential," but that film had showier, less subtle performances to honor. His early 00s sojourn as a leading man ("The Time Machine," "Count Of Monte Cristo") probably derailed things a little too.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Pretty strong, actually. "Animal Kingdom" and "The King's Speech" put him on the comeback trail, which was topped off with an Emmy win for Todd Haynes' "Mildred Pierce." And he's got several high profiles on the way in the coming year, with a cameo in "Prometheus," the lead in Drake Doremus' next film and what we hear is the stand-out performance in "The Wettest County." Unless "Lockout" puts him on the action movie route, this could happen soon.  

John Turturro

Nomination-Worthy Roles: Pino In "Do The Right Thing"; Bernie Bernbaum in "Miller's Crossing"; Barton Fink in "Barton Fink"; Herbie Stempel in "Quiz Show"; Jesus Quintana in "The Big Lebowski"
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? Hard to say. He won Best Actor at Cannes for "Barton Fink," and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes for "Quiz Show," but when the Oscars came, co-stars Michael Lerner and Paul Scofield were nominated instead. We suppose his golden era with the Coens pre-dates their awards circuit breakout with "Fargo," and "Do The Right Thing" was mostly ignored by the Oscars, but it could also be he's too much of a chameleon to really register.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Middling. The bulk of his work in the last decade has been paycheck stuff in Adam Sandler movies and "Transformers," jobs that pay for his directing work. But should he reunite with the Coens or Spike Lee again for a substantial part, he could end up back in the spotlight.

Jeff Daniels

Nomination-Worthy Roles: Tom Baxter/Gil Shepherd in "The Purple Rose Of Cairo"; Charles Driggs in "Something Wild"; Bill Johnson in "Pleasantville"; Bernard Berkman in "The Squid And The Whale"  
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? Daniels has long been terminally underrated, thanks to the mostly comedic nature of his early roles, but the Golden Globes have long been on board, nominating Daniels three times over the years. His career-best so far, in Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale," was presumably too unlikable for the Academy, but it his turn there has led him to take on darker, more serious roles.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Nothing has quite landed in the same way as the Baumbach film and we're not sure his next big screen outing, as a heavy in Rian Johnson's "Looper," will be that part. But look for Emmys in the future -- he's leading Aaron Sorkin's HBO series "The Newsroom," and should gold follow that, he may get better movie roles down the road.
 
Steve Buscemi

Nomination-Worthy Roles: Mr. Pink in "Reservoir Dogs"; Nick Reve in "Living In Oblivion"; Carl Showalter in "Fargo"; Tommy in "Trees Lounge"; Donny in "The Big Lebowski"; Seymour in "Ghost World"; Pierre Peders in "Interview"
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? The Peter Lorre of the Miramax era, Buscemi has rarely had the kind of showcase that brings in Oscar nominations. His parts in Tarantino and Coen Brothers films were probably too dark and quirky, and "Living in Oblivion" wasn't watched by many. Some of his finest performances have been under his own direction, but even fewer people saw "Trees Lounge" and "Interview." His turn in "Ghost World" was perhaps his most likely contender, and indeed, won a Golden Globe nomination, as well as several critics awards. But ultimately, he lost out to, um, unforgettable performances like Ethan Hawke in "Training Day" and Jon Voight in "Ali."
Chance Of A Future Nomination: Like Daniels, he's found a great showcase on TV with "Boardwalk Empire," and has won SAG and Golden Globe Awards, as well as Emmy nods, for his trouble. But if he decides to direct himself again (he's prepping "Queer," which he may not appear in), that could give a good showcase.

Donald Sutherland

Nomination-Worthy Roles: Hawkeye Pierce in "M*A*S*H"; Sgt. Oddball in "Kelly's Heroes"; John Klute in "Klute"; John Baxter in "Don't Look Now"; Calvin Jarrett in "Ordinary People"; X in "JFK"; Flan in "Six Degrees Of Separation"; Mr. Bennett in "Pride & Prejudice"
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? Lord knows. Sutherland was always an offbeat kind of leading man back in the day, but that never stopped Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino from winning Oscars. And it's not like he hasn't appeared in Oscar-y films: "M*A*S*H" got five nominations, Jane Fonda won Best Actress for "Klute," Stockard Channing was nommed for "Six Degrees of Separation," and "Ordinary People" won four, with another two acting nominations on top. That's even without mentioning arguably his greatest turn, in "Don't Look Now." He's admittedly had less meaty roles, playing generals and villains and mentors of late, but there's been good material too: the final scene of "Pride & Prejudice" is a screen-acting masterclass, and the highlight of the film.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Probably a longshot. He's worked in TV more often than in film of late, and only recently signed on to a Fox sitcom, which could take up his time for years, if it's a hit. But all he needs is a part like the one that Christopher Plummer had in "Beginners" to bring the spotlight back on him.

Also Overdue For A Nomination: The person we argued over the most was probably Jeff Goldblum. While he's an actor many of us have a soft spot for, he's never really been given too many meaty roles worthy of Oscar nominations though you have to see his lead turn in Paul Schrader's little-seen, kinda batshit crazy "Adam Resurrected" from 2008. It has a 34% RT rating, but mark our words, this film about a former circus entertainer who was spared from the gas chamber in post WWII and then becomes the ringleader at an asylum for Holocaust survivors is going to become a cult film one day. Other actors long overdue and or hopefully still getting strong enough roles to merit a nomination include Martin Sheen, Malcolm McDowell, Jim Carrey, John Goodman, Steve Martin, John Cusack, Richard Gere, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Gary Cole and J.K. Simmons.

Probably Too Young To Be Called Overdue, But Still Deserving: Sam Rockwell, Peter Sarsgaard and Anthony Mackie. All three of these guys' names are likely going to be called up one day.

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30 Comments

  • Tom | September 27, 2012 4:29 PMReply

    Very good list, I see no one has mentioned Sir Patrick Stewart.

  • Cookie | February 27, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    Damien Lewis deserves a few...

  • Josh Levin | February 27, 2012 12:42 PMReply

    Jeffrey Wright (anyone who can play MLK, Jean Michel Basquiat, Colin Powell and Belize so convincingly deserves hardware)
    I strongly second Anthony Mackie and John Goodman!

  • gerry v. | February 27, 2012 6:11 AMReply

    And what about Armand Assante? From Q&A to Mambo Kings to other oh so many stellar Oscar-nomination-worthy performances. And please let's not forget Ed Harris who deserves to take home one real soon.

  • steve | April 10, 2014 6:39 PM

    It's acting they're awarded for Ronnie not fame...

  • steve | April 10, 2014 6:37 PM

    What

  • Ronnie D. | February 28, 2012 9:41 AM

    Well he's not very famous - maybe that answers your question.

  • Neil | February 26, 2012 12:36 PMReply

    Great list. Only additions I would add are Brendan Gleeson, Alan Rickman and under the "Probably Too Young To Be Called Overdue" category: Paul Dano and Ewan McGregor.

  • Livia | February 24, 2012 8:56 PMReply

    I think Hugh Jackman is a really great actor who just hasn't been very clever at picking his projects. He's got a lot of talent. He was amazing in The Fountain!

  • thaty | February 24, 2012 7:32 PMReply

    Guy Pearce should have been nominated for Priscilla!!!

  • Thomas | February 24, 2012 11:14 AMReply

    3 words GARY FREAKIN OLDMAN!!!!!!

  • Edward Davis | February 24, 2012 12:26 PM

    Gary Oldman was nominated for an Oscar this year, hence this feature.

  • Connor Macgregor | February 24, 2012 4:46 AMReply

    Steve Martin, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kermit The Frog, Jim Carrey, Donald Sutherland, Keifer Sutherland, Alan Rickman, Ray Liotta, Bruce Willis, Ewan Macgregor, Sam Rockwell, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordan Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine (?), Samuel L Jackson (?), Gary Cole & JK Simmonds.

  • Tom | September 27, 2012 4:24 PM

    Nah, Caine and Jackson have had nominations.

  • Ty | February 23, 2012 11:37 PMReply

    Let us not forget Val Kilmer. The Doors, Tombstone, The Salton Sea and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang are a few tremendous performances that come to mind.

  • Alex | February 23, 2012 6:46 AMReply

    SAM FUCKING ROCKWELL!!!!!

  • Miss BCM | February 21, 2012 11:12 PMReply

    Yes! Two favs of mine are in this list: Steve Buscemi and John Turturro. But really, of these five the one who should have received the award already is Sutherland. Don't forget his performance in Novecento by Bertolucci, brilliantly gruesome as it is...

  • r28924 | February 21, 2012 9:10 PMReply

    I think Goldblum most deserved one for The Fly.

  • rotch | February 21, 2012 7:35 PMReply

    Out of curiosity I googled the trailer for Adam Resurrected (which indeed looks crazy), and it actually says "Academy Award Nominee Jeff Goldblum". Weird.

  • rotch | February 22, 2012 4:55 PM

    Trailer editors, sneaky bastards.

  • Edward Davis | February 21, 2012 9:27 PM

    Technically, he is an Academy Award nominee. he earned a nomination in 1996 for directing the Live Action Short Film "Little Surprises," but never for his acting.

  • dudeabides | February 21, 2012 7:19 PMReply

    Tuturro in Barton Fink is up there with the best of the '90s

  • rodie | February 21, 2012 6:03 PMReply

    Turturro, yes! When is he not awesome? Even in the cheesy comedies he does every now and then he's always the best thing in them.

  • Mike | February 21, 2012 5:50 PMReply

    ah, totally rooting for Guy Pearce and Jim Carrey to get their nods someday. Since Guy Pearce starred in 2 Oscar winners back to back, he could follow John O’Reilly’s path by starring in 3 best pic nominees.

  • Christopher Bell | February 21, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    Anthony Mackie was pretty great in "Night Catches Us."

  • Oogle monster | February 21, 2012 5:25 PMReply

    Martin Sheen over EVERYBODY. Dude needs an Oscar nom ASAP.

  • Gabe Toro | February 21, 2012 5:23 PMReply

    Adam Resurrected is AMAZING. Great piece, Oli.

  • Christian | February 21, 2012 5:05 PMReply

    Good picks. Let me add Alan Rickman ("Die Hard"), James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos") , Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas"), Bruce Willis ("Pulp Fiction"), Andy Serkis ("The Lord of the Rings"), Daniel Craig ("Road to Perdition"), Ewan McGregor ("Trainspotting"), Sam Rockwell ("Moon"), Mads Mikkelsen ("Pusher II") and then young actors such as Tom Hardy ("Bronson"), Michael Fassbender ("Hunger"), Ben Mendelsohn ("Animal Kingdom") and Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Brick").

  • Mike | February 28, 2012 1:04 AM

    James Gandolfini won't get an oscar nomination for a television show

  • Cinephile | February 21, 2012 5:22 PM

    Seconding Mads Mikkelsen for... I feel like all his work with Refn has been Oscar-worthy. I'd add Vincent Cassel (if not for La Haine then surely for Mesrine), and Cillian Murphy for the younger generation. The Wind That Shakes The Barley wasn't the showiest performance but he was stunningly good. Wish he would stop being the best thing about a bad movie and start knocking it out of the park in good projects more...

    Love Sam Rockwell for Moon.

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