Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Oscar MythBusting: One Day They'll Be Nominated!

Most fans of established actors believe that one day their favorite will be nominated for an Oscar. In 2009 campaigns hopes are particularly high for Sandra Bullock, Alfred Molina, Colin Firth and Christopher Plummer. Fans of James McAvoy and Sam Rockwell still hold out longshot hope. But guess what? The odds are, generally speaking, against them on February 2nd (two months hence!) when the lucky 20 are called.


Most actors aren't ever nominated for the big prize. People seemed surprise to read in an old Oscar Mythbusting column I wrote years ago that the majority of nominated actors (approximately 67%) never receive a second nomination. But I did the research and it's true. Even less likely than a second nomination: a first one. Consider this...

The following (living) legends have still never been nominated despite rich bodies of work and several classic films or exuberantly praised performances: Mia Farrow, Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Plummer and Donald Sutherland. Outrageous, right?

Movie stars and/or respected actors who've never been nominated: Christian Bale, Drew Barrymore, Maria Bello, Paul Bettany, Gabriel Byrne, Steve Buscemi, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cusack, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Cameron Diaz, Kirsten Dunst, Dakota Fanning, Colin Farrell, Bruno Ganz, Hugh Grant, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tobey Maguire, Catherine O'Hara, Mary Louise Parker, Robin Wright, Parker Posey, Charlotte Rampling, Christina Ricci, Mark Ruffalo, Kurt Russell, Meg Ryan, Peter Sarsgaard, Bruce Willis, Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright.


And that's just a sampling.

Moral of the Story: If you're rooting for any particular favorite this season, cross your fingers but never hold your breath.
*

53 comments:

Robert said...

Gah! Catherine O'Hara really deserves at least a nomination for almost every movie she's ever done. Especially "A Mighty Wind" and "For Your Consideration". Sigh...

That is actually quite a shocking list in general, such respected names! I never realized! :-O

Robert Hamer said...

Part of the reason why, I think, is because actors like Jeff Daniels and Mia Farrow become SO reliable and so understated that they don't "wow" AMPAS with combacks or politically invigorating performances, and their campaigns fail to invoke things like sentimental personal popularity.

But if you get your foot in the door early, your name becomes synomymous with "Oscar-worthy" and lazy members will put your name down simply because your name is Tom Hanks or Sean Penn or Jack Nicholson or Judi Dench or Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett and not necessarily beacause the performance was worthy of the honor.

Branden said...

It's a shame that some hacktors and hacktresses are getting awards for "meh" performances. Most of these actors should get some recognition.

Anonymous said...

Donald Sutherland is the one that most preplexes me. So much good work (and you'd think good will), but no nom. Chirstopher Plummer too. THE INSIDER should have been an easy get, but alas...

-VAL

Erik L. said...

I'm a big Jeffrey Wright fan but I agree with Val: the shocking one is Donald Sutherland. None? Really? After that body of work? After that body of work that's been often nominated? He must've been the only actor of the main four in ORDINARY PEOPLE not to get a nom...

BrianZ said...

This article is a downer, but still so true.

Michael W. said...

Donald Sutherland is also the one that first jumps to my mind when talking about this.

He should have been nominated for Ordinary People and could also have been nominated for Don't Look Now. I don't know though, if I would be able to find a spot for him myself that year. But I would also nominate him for MASH and JFK (greatest cameo/limited performance ever!!).

So he should have 3 or 4 nods.

mrripley said...

I loved sutherland in day of the locust a def supp actor winner in 75 for me.

pomme said...

i can't believe Sandra Bullock could be nominated!

this year,i hope nods for Sam Rockwell(i saw Moon),Colin Firth(a good friend saw the Tom Ford movie and he liked the acting)and Jeremy Renn(Hurt Lockers)and Matt Damon(the informant!)
for the women,i don't know except Michelle Pfeiffer in "cheri"(i just saw)i have no idea so i imagine Meryl Streep for her Susanne Boyle impression

Amanda said...

How ridiculous, cruel and sad is the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow,Cuba Gooding Jr, Jennifer Hudson and Helen Hunt have Oscars, that Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson and other vanilla harmless "good girls" who cant breathe without their publicists and personal stylists were nominated, and living legends such as Sutherland and Plummer weren´t?

Its a slap in the face of the idea of meritocracy. and of acting in itself.

It´s all about the money....

Amanda said...

What did Scarlet Johansson do to deserve a nomination? In my opinion, so far, nothing. I´m more than ok withe the idea of her without a nomination so far.

Its best actress, not best boobs.

Amanda said...

But I partially agree with Robert Hammer. Some people have other priorities and other approaches to career and life. Some people are low profile, low key, avoid magazine covers, dont attempt to play teh fashion icon game, dont go to parties, dont to talk shows, fly under the radar. Choose smaller roles, have more serious public personas. Dont make a fuss about their personal lives. Dont try to be fashion darlings. Dont release clothing lines. Go for the smaller films. Do theater. Do different things.

Some people are not about being a celebrity.

Some choose to be actors not movie stars.

Those people usually are not nominated.

Michael Parsons said...

When I read your list Donald's name screamed out at me. I recently watched 'Pride and Prejudice' again and he was so bloody worthy

Chris Na Taraja said...

I finally saw PRECIOUS last night and M'onique is going to bust right thru to a nomination and maybe even the win!

Also, saw THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, and I'm thinking that it will give UP a run for it's money. don't know, it might still be UP this year, though this is the best Roald Dahl story set to film so far.

amir_uk said...

I still think about that post you wrote about the 2005 set - 13 of the 20 actors nominated that year were first-timers - and how rare that is.

And then you did a poll asking us who we thought would be the three most likely to receive a second acting nomination. Loved it.

So of the 13, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger, George Clooney, and Amy Adams have since been renominated.

They've had chances with Keira Knightley and Michelle Williams - and didn't.

But what's most interesting for me is that of the 4 who were reinvited to the party, 2 had already won in 2005 on that first go. It does point to how they're not about spreading the wealth. But that they have their go-to-guys who will be nom'd and renom'd. (1 of them will most likely be nominated again this year. But he'd totally deserve it :-))

amir_uk said...

Sorry, it was actually 14/20 first-timers in 2005...

Anonymous said...

How was Bullock in the Blind Side?

ThaDropDownBear said...

Donald Sutherland and Christopher Plummer- two of Canadas greatest actors. Maybe its their heritage that keeps them from the nom. This was my theory. And then I remembered... Ryan Gosling and Ellen Page trotted in randomly and obtained nominations...the hell. Not denouncing their performances but they got so quickly what Don and Chris have been deserving for decades.

Ezri said...

I will NEVER forget that the Academy totally overlooked Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman in The Fountain. And the worst thing is that nomination that year went to DiCaprio or Wahlberg for overrated Departed. Wahblerg? Seriously? That guy can´t act!
But hell, who needs the Oscar? Not everybody is Sean "I´ll do anything for the Oscar" Penn, or Cate Blanchett who could play a tree and still would be nominated. Some actors are doing acting because it´s their job and they are enjoying it, not for awards. And nobody doubts them.

magicub said...

Remember the time when Jim Carey was trying so hard to get nominated, or cameron Diaz?

pomme said...

@ezri: one Oscar nod for an actor says "we love his work" as when your boss says you "great job! i give you more money!"

@magicub: i remember this time( above all Cameron Diaz in "vanilly sky" and "john malkovich") and i always have hope for Jim Carrey(for "3 strooges")

Anonymous said...

and pene is about to get her third!

I know people love her and whatnot, esp on this blog but when you look at a list like this it does seems unfair.

Jude said...

It took the Academy 52 years to recognize Lauren Bacall, so this is no surprise.

Lucky said...

Actually, Amanda, Scarlett Johansson was really close to getting nominated for Lost in Translation in 2003. She even won the Bafta.

But anyways, I think all my favourite actors are on that list. Peter Sarsgaard, Robin Wright-Penn, Maggie G, Jim Carey, Jeff Daniels, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Jason Leigh... They're not in bad company

Paul Outlaw said...

RE: Colin Firth.
I wonder how many Best Actor nominations have involved a) playing gay, b) crying on camera, and/or c) British accents. ;-)

NATHANIEL R said...

Paul. 20 / 72 / 102






I kid. I kid.

pomme said...

i forgot Viggo Mortensen and the kid acted his son !Very very strong in "the road"

Rick said...

This is too debatable a blog , but Sandra Bullock and Mia FArrow ... Pluhease!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

wow donald sutherland! first name that caught my attention. just find so hard to rationalise.

what a great post for nobodies to express their hatred of top quality actors. bravo.

Sean said...

Mia Farrow...come on! She deserves to be one of those default nominees who gets nominated for less than perfect work. I don't know how she was passed on over and over again. How does, above all, Cecilia in 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' not warrant an Oscar?

Anonymous said...

GARY OLDMAN!

Alex said...

I would've definitely given Farrow nods for "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (along with Daniels) and "Husbands and Wives."

I think I would've given most, if not all, the actors on that list nods by now. Jeffrey Wright and Mary-Louise Parker would've won if "Angels in America" had been released theatrically (a la "Che" without the messiness of that film's release) instead of on HBO. Or why couldn't they have just released the whole thing with an intermission between the two parts?

NATHANIEL R said...

i maybe should'nt have posted this because it always makes me mad. Mia Farrow may well be the best actress that was never nominated.

ROSEMARY'S BABY
ALICE
THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO

i mean... you just can't argue with the strength of those performances. Or if you can you... uh... well you're doing too many mental gymnastics to hate on her. she's brilliant.

alex -- i wish ANGELS IN AMERICA had been a movie too. (sigh) but whatever it's great as is too.

Alex said...

Oh how could I forget Rosemary's Baby?!?

Also, didn't Farrow win the NBR for Best Actress? That seems like it could've been such a "it's time" nomination, at least.

adri said...

I still think that Christopher Plummer will get nominated in Supporting this year - and win. If he somehow misses this year, then the next time around he'll get it. Still optimistic!

Why I think Donald Sutherland hasn't been nominated - in the early part of his career, he was considered too "wild" - he was too closely associated with Jane Fonda and anti-Vietnam for the Academy of that era. Then he did too many psycho parts that he was too good at, and they thought he WAS psycho. He had to work his way back with smaller roles in less edgy pieces. Then they were just out of the habit of considering him.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really think Hugh Grant has done any role that is even remotely Oscar worthy?

Kyle Pinion said...

Agree with the poster who mentioned Gary Oldman. One of the finest actors working today, and has been for 20-odd years...still nothing...should have been nominated for "Sid and Nancy" alone.

Caden said...

Horrifying! I got to Hope Davis on your list and had to take a break to get it together.

Clover said...

Mia Farrow is excelent in the Purple Rose of Cairo. There's this scene when she meets the real Jeff Daniels (not his character) on a store and they get out, she's just so excited to see him. So infectious, I can'help to smile everytime I think about that moment. Amazing.

Maybe nepotism was the reason she never got nominated? She was in a lot of Woody Allen films. But then again, Diane Keaton didn't have this problem.

jahs34 said...

I thought Ruffalo was nominated for You Can Count on me.

NATHANIEL R said...

anon 11:27 ... i think Hugh Grant deserved consideration for About a Boy.

but the point of the list isn't so much they deserved it at [insert time] so much as a reveal that no matter how acclaimed or famous you are, it's still difficult to get an Oscar nomination.

Robert hit the nail on the head. "get in early" or they don't really think of you in that way.

Anonymous said...

The biggest crime is Steve Buscemi's lack of awards. Is there a more consistently entertaining actor?

Will said...

Robin Wright was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Forrest Gump.

Ivan terrible said...

My ideal 20 for this season

Sam Rockwell
Jeff Bridges
Colin Firth
Jeremy Renner
Viggo Mortensen

Carey Mulligan
Abbie Cornish
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Emily Blunt
Gabourey Sidibe

Christoph Waltz
Anthony Mackie
Woody Harrelson
Peter Capaldi
Alfred Molina

Melanie Laurent
Anna Kendrick
Samantha Morton
Penelope Cruz
Julianne Moore

Clover said...

Will, she wasn't. She was nominated for a golden globe (alongside Sally Field) but failed to get the nod. I love Jenny though.

Anonymous said...

it is pitiful that mia farrow hasnt gotten a nomination she was so good in broadway danny rose ,purple rose of cairo,rosemarys baby ,and hannah and her sisters ...hollywood is full of it..

charles said...

it is a shame mia farrow hasnt been nominated look at broadway danny rose ,purple rose of cairo , rosemarys baby ,and hannah and her sisters and that just 4 ..

tony d said...

how was warren oates never nominated?

Charlotte said...

I think the best Hollywood actress never nominated has to be Jennifer Jason Leigh. What really disappoints me about her snubs are how close she seemed to come a few times.

New York Film Critics award #1 for Last Exit to Brooklyn and Miami Blues in 1990

National Society of Film Critics award and Golden Globe nod for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle in 1994

New York Film Critics award #2 for Georgia in 1995

The fact that she got the Golden Globe nom for Mrs. Parker in 94, and that her Georgia co-star Mare Winningham was nominated in 95, suggests she was pretty close to a nom both years. Both powerful, daring and unusual performances that hold up well today. I'm kinda sick of the same excuses trotted out: she's just too mannered, or the roles are just too dark/unpleasant for Academy approval. What Leigh was doing in the mid 90s was so much stronger than the safe, dull likes of Winona Ryder in Little Women, Susan Sarandon in The Client or Sharon Stone in Casino.

1991 was a weak Best Actress year too, and JJL's performance in Rush was a meaty one. Hell, they could have thrown her a Supporting nod for Dolores Claiborne or Margot at the Wedding.

Mia Farrow, Isabelle Huppert and Charlotte Rampling are all brilliant actresses too (obviously) but their Academy snubs didn't sting me as much, probably because their best performances either a) failed to win any precursor awards so I didn't expect a nod, or b) were in the kind of edgy foreign films the Academy never bother watching anyway (Under the Sand or The Piano Teacher).

I do hope Leigh's career doesn't end without even one nomination.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your list but I have a question how come there are no African-American Actor/Actress on your list? Their are quite a few good one that have not been nominated yet.

Anonymous said...

What about the Agnes Moorehead of our times, Patricia Clarkson?

Daniels the best said...

I'm Spanish and in my opinion it's really disgraceful and frustrating that people like Penelope Cruz (she doesn't even deserves being considered "actress") have an Oscar and see that the best actor of the world, Jeff Daniels (he's the best because he's the most versatile), is so underrated. She has the same Oscars than James Stewart and one more than Hitchcock, who never won this award. No comments...

Anonymous said...

Can anybody name some african-american actors/actresses who should be nominated?