If you are like me, you often shake your head when the Oscar nominees are announced. For various reasons (racism, politics, ignorance, etc.), many great performances fall through the cracks in the minds of the Academy voters. Below are 13 performances that I feel were overlooked when the Oscar nominations were announced in their respective years of eligibility. Please note that I am not saying that the following performances should have won Oscars. However, at the very least they were worthy of inclusion with the other nominees.
1. Jim Carrey for "Liar Liar" (1997)
The Academy has a long history of overlooking worthy comedic performances. Carrey's portrayal of a lawyer forced to tell the truth is physical comedy at its best... he worked his ass off in that movie!
2. Bobby Darin for "Pressure Point" (1962)
For those who only know Darin as a singer, his performance as a disturbed prison inmate with Nazi beliefs will be a revelation. He even goes toe-to-toe acting-wise with the formidable Sidney Poitier (who plays the psychiatrist assigned to his case). Once you watch this WW II era drama, you will never think of the game Tic-Tac-Toe the same way.
3. Ossie Davis for "Do the Right Thing" (1989)
As Da Mayor in Spike Lee's incendiary drama on race relations, Davis (above left, with Lee) gives a performance that is both funny and touching. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when he tells some of the neighborhood youth about the pain and struggle he faced in trying to raise a family.
4. Andy Griffith for "A Face In the Crowd" (1957)
If you go into this film only knowing Griffith as either good old Sheriff Andy Taylor or lawyer Ben Matlock (aka The Man With A Thousand White Suits), you better brace yourself. In his film debut as a drifter who becomes a tyrannical TV star, Griffith gives a powerhouse performance in which he shows us the dark side of fame and power.
5. Samuel L. Jackson for "Jungle Fever" (1991)
In his breakthrough role as the crack addicted Gator, Jackson (above left with Ruby Dee) was amazing. Even though the Oscars failed to give him his due, the Cannes Film Festival was very impressed. They even awarded a special "Supporting Actor" prize just for him.
6. Jack Lemmon for "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992)
In this David Mamet film about real estate salesmen, Lemmon gave the performance of his career. As Shelley "The Machine" Levene, a former hotshot salesman who has fallen on hard times, Lemmon displayed that nervous, edgy desperation that was his forte.
7. Ida Lupino for "The Hard Way" (1942)
As a woman who will stop at nothing to ensure her younger sister's rise in show business, Lupino proves that she could play cold and ruthless characters just as well as her contemporaries Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
8. Judd Nelson for "The Breakfast Club" (1985)
In a movie filled with solid performances, Nelson's portrayal of rebellious stoner John Bender is the standout in my opinion. Although he had many funny and memorable quotes, Nelson showed that he was more than capable of playing the scared and vulnerable side of his character too.
9. Keke Palmer for "Akeelah and the Bee" (2006)
Palmer's portrayal of a South Central girl who overcomes many challenges to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee is both heartwarming and inspiring. The fact that this then 12 year old actress held her own with co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett shows you that she has a lot of promise. The mainstream media falls all over themselves praising other up-and-coming actresses such as Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin. Palmer deserves to be mentioned right along with them.
10. Sidney Poitier for "Raisin In the Sun" (1961)
When he was practically the only Black actor seen in major roles on the big screen, Poitier (above right with Ruby Dee) was usually cast in noble good guy roles. In this adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play, Poitier gets to let loose as a husband and father slowly cracking under the strain of being black and poor in America. P. Diddy has some big shoes to fill.
11. Edward G. Robinson for "Key Largo" (1948)
The fact that the legendary Robinson NEVER received an Oscar nomination for any of his big screen performances is bullshit. As a result, I had plenty of roles from which to choose when compiling this TT. I decided to go with his performance as the notorious fugitive gangster Johnny Rocco; one of the all-time great screen villains.
12. Ray Sharkey for "The Idolmaker" (1980)
In this cult film about the early days of rock and roll, Sharkey (above left with Peter Gallagher) played a Svengali-like songwriter/manager whose control freakishness threatens to destroy him and everyone he cares about. His performance is dynamic from start to finish.
13. Alfre Woodard for "Down In the Delta" (1998)
In a change of pace role as a drug addicted single mother who turns her life around after being sent by her mother to live with relatives in Mississippi, Woodard (above right with Wesley Snipes) is believable both before and after her character's transformation.
What are some of your favorite performances that were ignored by Oscar? Although I chose to stick with those that weren't nominated, feel free to pick Oscar nominees that didn't win.
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