We love movies and all those talented folks who help create the wonderful worlds we can momentarily inhabit. So naturally film audiences love award shows devoted to honoring the best of the best.
How many times have audiences tuned in to check out the academy award nominations being announced only to come away feeling someone had been sorely omitted from the list of nominations that have been announced? Robbed would be the popular term that is often used when describing it.
People talk about it every year. How this person wasn’t nominated for this or that. Again and again it is brought up and discussed after the nominees are announced. The main categories that seem to garner the most complaints are for acting. There is always someone left out in every category, but, acting seems to be the one that everyone comments on the most.
Film goers love a real competition between actors and films. Cinephiles can enjoy debating which of their favorite actors deserved to be nominated, win, and who was severely overlooked. There are countless websites, blogs, and forums dedicated solely to just complaining about how the academy got it so wrong again. So here we go with 2010-2014.
15. Javier Bardem in Skyfall
When the producers introduced a new James Bond almost ten years ago we were given a brand new relativized James Bond. And “Skyfall” was probably the best true Bond film in years if you go by word of mouth. The film captured the old school feel of a film like “Goldfinger” or “A Spy Who Loved Me”. All the trappings of a classic Bond film are present here, gadgets, quips, henchman, Q, Moneypenny, and a villain that oozes villainy right from the start.
Bardem’s Silva is manically calculated sadist who wants nothing more than to see MI6 burn to the ground, along with M herself. Many Bond fans have called Silva “the Joker” of the Bond franchise. Clearly the filmmakers wanted to introduce a character that could math Bond. Javier Bardem relishes the opportunity to play up each scene he is in with glee.
14. Richard Gere in Arbitrage
Richard Gere is an actor who can exude cockiness like behavior so well. Few actors can do this with such ease. Here he is given the opportunity to play one of the more challenging roles of his career. It is such a fantastic portrayal of a narcissist that it is absolutely astounding that he was not nominated.
Gere plays a man who has everything it seems in the way of money, the perfect business, friends, and wife. So it is only natural that he adheres to the tradition of rich men having a mistress whom he really loves and wants to leave his wife for. But one fateful night will change his life and those closest to him forever.
13. Sam Shepard in Blackthorn
Sam Shepard is probably one of America’s best kept secrets when it comes to what he has delivered as an artist. Not only is he an accomplished playwright, but he is also an actor who comes across in every role as someone whom is simply being and not acting. He encompasses that southern Tennessee Williams like quality in his performances. A man from another time and place who has been dropped into our time.
This is wildly on the display in the criminally under seen film, “Blackthorn”. Here he plays Butch Cassidy living in the mountains of South America as James Blackthorne. He has surprisingly having survived the Bolivian army thought to have killed him and the Sundance kid. A letter from a former lover soon comes and informs him of a son he never knew of. What comes next is man willing to risk death in order to see his son before time finally catches up with him.
The performance is subdued and filled with pain and angst. Not only that, but this film just happens to be a great western on top of all that.
12. Julianne Moore in Don Jon
“Don Jon” is the debut film of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s hopefully long career as a director as well as an actor. For a first film it boasts many fine elements. And although film itself is lacking in certain areas it does boast some terrific performances from its actors.
With Mrs. Moore being the standout as a woman overcome by grief over the death of her husband and child. She is filling the empty void in her life with empty sex. Knowing that people are out there who actually experienced this in their life really adds another element to her performance.
And while Joseph Gordon Levitt may be the star of this film, all eyes are own Moore in every scene she is in. She inhabits a woman uncomfortable in her own skin who is dealing with her grief in the only way she knows how, by fucking the pain away. One of the best scenes involves her telling Levitt’s character what happened to her that lead to her becoming a person who feels nothing and deals in empty sexual acts like it is a simple shaking of the hands.
11. Kate Winslet in Labor Day
Critics lambasted Jason Reitman’s film, “Labor Day”, but, gave Winslet some of the best reviews of her career. Kate Winslet gives one of her best performances to date as a single mother who has been completely destroyed by her husband’s leaving her some years prior.
Leaving her young son to basically raise her and himself. Soon an escape convict, played by a brooding, but kindly Josh Brolin enters their lives. The two people damaged by their pasts embark on a love affair that is formulaic in its concept, but, beautiful in its execution.
What carries this is the chemistry between Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. With Kate Winslet being the standout. She embodies a person who is depressed, confused, and filled with sadness. Only to be suddenly given hope of a future love in the most unlikely of lovers in Josh Brolin. What exists here onscreen is an honest portrayal of love and sadness.
10. Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths
Christopher Walken is a fan favorite of sorts. Known for playing strange and odd characters throughout his career. Delivering his lines with no sense of punctuation, however, with intense purpose. Many have felt that he has spent a career giving performances that are worthy of award consideration.
In Martin McDonagh’s, “Seven Psychopaths”, Christopher Walken plays Hans, one of the aforementioned psychopaths. It is a weirdly poetic and loving performance of a man who is witnessing the love of his life slip away and is contemplating his own mortality.
In a film full of great turns by all involved, it is ultimately Walken who comes away giving an honest portrayal of a psychopath. Christopher Walken inhabits crazy, sad, confused, and whacky better than most and he is at his Walken best here. In recent years most could make an argument that he has played mostly crazy characters because of past roles influencing his casting. And while that may be the case here as well, the viewer cannot help but get lost in those crazy eyes of Walken’s.
The scene that really earns his place here comes late in the film while visiting his wife in the hospital. It is a spoiler for those whom have not seen it. On display here, is probably some of his calmest most calculated acting.
9. Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained
DiCaprio has spent a career being nominated only to see that he loses time and time again. And with each new role he brings something new. This is the kid that many joked about being just a pretty boy with no talent and he is now one of the premiere actors in Hollywood.
DiCaprio has made a living on playing likable do well sorts, a con man, a shut in billionaire philanthropist, a mental patient, and countless other fantastic roles. Here he plays Calvin Candie owner and operator of the largest slave plantation in the South right before the start of the Civil War. He owns the aforementioned title character’s wife and he is one sadistic SOB.
DiCaprio shows great range here as the manically obsessive slave owner who relishes the use of his male slaves in Mandingo fighting. Maybe it was the character’s obvious flaws or the sadistic nature of the performance but something clearly turned off academy voters. There is a scene involving a skull of a former slave that is so chilling that it in itself should have garnered the nomination.