Every year the Oscars don’t get a few things (okay, several things) right in their nominations. It doesn’t really help that the voters are mostly white old men. Several people always get snubbed, and there are always questionable choices. Here are a few Oscar snubs from years past, and a couple from this year, in the acting categories.
Kevin Bacon (Walter)- The Woodsman
Many films capture our addictions, our problems, our rotting skeletons, but only so many succeed in humanizing our dark nature. Enter The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon as Walter: a pedophile that has been released after 12 years in prison. Bacon is a very underrated actor, and he delivers a complex performance here that takes steel courage. Watching Walter deal with his demons on the road to redemption is inspirationally sobering. Bacon makes his controversial character human, and not a full-fledged monster. He tackles the character with blood and sweat, but doesn’t make it aggressively exploitative. Bacon wasn’t doing this with Oscar gold in mind, and that’s probably why the performance reached the impressive level that it did.
It takes two to make a powerful film about the complexity of intimate relationships, and two devoted performances are given in Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carrey, as Joel, gives a powerfully subtle performance that balances Kate Winslet’s outgoing Clementine. Carrey is a sympathetic, interesting everyman that is comfortably familiar. The heartbreak and the ambiguous hope in Carrey’s portrayal of Joel is so thoroughly genuine that our preconceived expectations of the usually goofy Jim Carrey is completely erased from our memories.
Similar snub? Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine
Naomi Watts (Betty Elms)- Mulholland Drive
In a film where everybody is so unsure of the plot, the central performance is sure to satisfy on all accounts. Naomi Watts, as Betty Elms, gives a filling sample of her range in one film. She’s doe-eyed, obsessive, terrified, talented and devoted, without seeming out of character at any point. Watts strokes our emotions like an accomplished pianist playing a medley of tunes. If Natalie Portman can reel in an Oscar-nomination for Black Swan, Naomi Watts should have received one for this gem.
Shannon’s performance in Take Shelter is a force of nature. Playing Curtis, he intially is an everyday man, working construction and providing for his family, but he slowly falls into the realms of insanity. His battle against the downfall is painful to watch at times, especially because he sometimes becomes so believable that we invest into his claims of apocalyptic visions.
Similar snub? Benicio Del Toro in The Things We Lost in the Fire
Eva is a woman that cut her adventurous life short to take on the adventure of having a child. Little did she know that her child would be pure evil, similar to Michael Myers, but in the real world. Swinton takes on this complex role of a mother trying so desperately to love her chaotic, souless child, and succeeds in conveying her despair, her annoyance and even her love. Swinton fits into the skin of the character without any faults. Does Eva love her son? Does she hate him? Does she want to kill him? Swinton, as Eva, answers these questions with every bit of her performance.
Similar Snub? Mia Farrow (Rosemary)- Rosemary’s Baby