Those Oscar Missed: Best Supporting Actor



Best Supporting Actor can be a very fun category.  It’s always made up of actors whose roles were small but significant.  Once in a while the nominating process can be a bit controversial (Anthony Hopkins and Forest Whitaker gave supporting performances in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs and 2006’s The Last King of Scotland, respectively, but yet they both were nominated and won for Best Actor simply because they were submitted for leading role rather than supporting).  There have been times where the Academy dropped the ball and snubbed some incredible supporting performances.  Here are some major snubs that have my support.

One major snub is Orson Welles for 1958’s Touch of Evil.  He turns in a terrific performance as Quinlan, a corrupt police captain who plants false evidence to convict criminals who he feels were guilty nevertheless.  He does whatever it takes to convict criminals, and will eliminate anyone who gets in his way, even going so far as to frame an innocent woman for murder so that her husband, a drug enforcement official in the Mexican government, will stop investigating Quinlan.  It’s such a shame that Welles wasn’t nominated for his work here.  Welles is a three-time nominee (2 Actor & Director nods for 1941’s Citizen Kane, 1 Original Screenplay win for 1941’s Citizen Kane).

The actual nominees at the 31st Academy Awards were:
The Big Country – Burl Ives (*Winner)
The Defiant Ones – Theodore Bikel
The Brothers Karamazov – Lee J. Cobb
Some Came Running – Arthur Kennedy
Teacher’s Pet – Gig Young

Another major snub is Tim Curry for 1985’s Legend.  He delivers an unforgettable performance as the Lord of Darkness, and yet was denied an Oscar nod (perhaps the butchered version that was released in the United States had something to do with it).  He has an immediate commanding presence that’s just so flamboyantly evil, and yet you can’t help but find him so entertaining at the same time.  His performance is so good here that he easily outshines Tom Cruise, who plays the hero Jack.  What’s even more remarkable was that Curry delivered such a great performance underneath all the prosthetic makeup he had to put on every day.  It’s too bad he wasn’t nominated for this film, for he has yet to receive a single Oscar nod.

The actual nominees at the 59th Academy Awards were:
Hannah and Her Sisters – Michael Caine (*Winner)
Platoon – Tom Berenger
Platoon – Willem Dafoe
A Room With A View – Denholm Elliott
Hoosiers – Dennis Hopper

One major snub that definitely comes to mind is Val Kilmer for 1993’s Tombstone.  Perhaps the finest portrayal of Doc Holliday to ever grace a motion picture, Kilmer portrays a man who is confident yet vulnerable, and whose loyalty is unquestionable.  In meeting Johnny Ringo, his Holliday sees the worst of himself personified and acknowledges it (using humor to hide his pain).  Despite the drinking and gambling, Kilmer’s Doc Holliday is a man who never wavers, even in the face of death.  It’s such a shame that Kilmer wasn’t nominated here, for he has yet to receive a single Oscar nod.

The actual nominees at the 66th Academy Awards were:
The Fugitive – Tommy Lee Jones (*Winner)
Schindler’s List – Ralph Fiennes
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – Leonardo DiCaprio
In the Line of Fire – John Malkovich
In the Name of the Father – Pete Postlethwaite

Another major snub would be Sean Astin for 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  Astin was the heart and soul of Peter Jackson’s finale to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  His portrayal of Samwise Gamgee was inspirational; the friend whose loyalty never wavers (not in the face of danger, and not even when Frodo’s did).  Astin brought strength, compassion, and understanding to a character that might’ve been played more for laughs had a lesser actor been cast in the part (thankfully, that didn’t happen).  It’s a shame Astin wasn’t nominated for his work here.  Astin is a one-time nominee (1 Live Action Short nod for 1994’s Kangaroo Court).

The actual nominees at the 76th Academy Awards were:
Mystic River – Tim Robbins (*Winner)
21 Grams – Benicio Del Toro
The Cooler – Alec Baldwin
In America – Djimon Hounsou
The Last Samurai – Ken Watanabe

One final major snub would be Albert Brooks for 2011’s Drive.  Brooks was simply a revelation here; cast against type as mobster Bernie Rose, a man who doesn’t enjoy the dirtier aspects of his profession but nevertheless does what needs to be done.  Brooks not only managed to encompass such a character but also brought a level of compassion that would seem difficult to believe on paper (for example: the scene where he reluctantly gives a longtime friend a painless death).  It’s too bad the Academy didn’t nominate Brooks here for his terrific work (this snub is so major that it still hurts to this day).  Brooks is a one-time nominee (1 Supporting Actor nod for 1987’s Broadcast News).

The actual nominees at the 84th Academy Awards were:
Beginners – Christopher Plummer (*Winner)
My Week With Marilyn – Kenneth Branagh
Moneyball – Jonah Hill
Warrior – Nick Nolte
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Max Von Sydow

Other actors that were considered include Ricardo Montalban for 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Peter Capaldi for 2009’s In the Loop, and Andy Serkis for 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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