Under the Circuit: Tobey Maguire

Place: Santa Monica, California
Major Awards and Citations: Golden Globe Awards 2010: Nominee for Best Actor in a Leading Role- Drama for ‘Brothers’ Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 2000: Won Best Supporting Performance- ‘Wonder Boys’
Oscar Snubs:  The Cider House Rules (1999) Wonder Boys (2000), Seabiscuit (2003), and Brothers (2009)

     In 2009, Tobey Maguire gave the best performance of his career, by playing a Captain in the Marine Corps suffering from post  traumatic stress disorder in the movie, Brothers. The movie may not have been the best of the year or even that month, but Tobey Maguire’s performance stood out. Unfortunately, it didn’t stand out enough that particular year when the Oscars came around.
Maguire is one of the most underrated actors working in the business. He is brilliant in every role and he is an actor who very seldom makes bad movies. Since 1998, when he starred in Pleasantville, he, in my eyes, showed us what it meant to be the leading man. While he is an amazing leading man, he gets surrounded with talented actors who, I don’t want to say overshadow, but receive the accolades while he gets ignored. It’s a confusing statement, I know, but just bare with me.
Movie goers know Maguire as Spiderman, people like us (those who come on this site) know him for more than that. When Maguire was in ninth grade, he dropped out of school to pursue a career in acting. He did some commercials, had small roles in various TV shows, and had very small roles in movies such as This Boy’s Life, S.F.W., The Ice Storm, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  His role in The Ice Storm made an impact on critics but all of this built him up for his first real starring role in a great movie well all know; Pleasantville. He proved to movie audiences that he could be a leading man and carry himself in a movie filled with amazing talent such as, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels and Reese Witherspoon.

     He followed with a movie very well known; The Cider House Rules. He had a starring role playing a coming of age character from the bestselling author John Irving.  The movie garnered seven academy award nominations, but Maguire was left out of the bunch.
In 2000, Maguire starred opposite Michael Douglas in the movie, Wonder Boys. He played James Leer, a writing student with a flair for prevarication.  This was the first film where he received an acting award from the Toronto Critics Association for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, it was the only award and nomination he received for the movie.

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          Maguire finally became a household name when he stepped into the role of Spiderman in 2002. Obviously, this wasn’t an Oscar worthy role, but having his name out there, helped his career, especially when the movie brought in $114 million its first weekend out. While Spiderman had become the talk of the town, a new hero touched audience’s hearts in Seabiscuit. Maguire played Jokey Red Pollard whose spirit was broken but found himself in Seabiscuit and became a better person because of it. While we have seen the emotional side of Maguire, he was vulnerable in this film and just let his emotions out there for the world to see. While he had the starring role, and in the credits his name comes before Jeff Bridges, he deserved to get nominated, even if it would have been for supporting actor.  The movie was a work of art, and he showed a whole new range of acting, I won’t say audiences, but I had never seen
before. He always found a way to humor us in his previous roles but Seabiscuit was purely dramatic and heartfelt. While Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper are wonderful actors, if Maguire didn’t play the jokey, the movie wouldn’t have been what it was.

     Through the years, Maguire came out with a few films, the two sequels to Spiderman (I won’t go into how bad the third installment was and how embarrassed I was for him when he became ’emo’ Spiderman), and The Good German. It wasn’t until 2009 that we saw the actor that Hollywood was waiting for Maguire to show us.

The movie Brothers was the role that took Maguire to a whole new level in acting. Playing Captain Sam Cahill in the United States Marine Corps, audiences were shown a side of the military we often like to think doesn’t exist. His character is deployed to Afghanistan and while away, he is captured and tortured, while his family is notified he is dead. After being rescued and witnessing events that nobody should ever have to witness, Sam has to re-adjust to living his normal life. But how he left, is not how he returns home. He is a whole different person and Maguire shows us that so brilliantly. His transformation was so honest and heartbreaking while at the same time terrifying. We see his character go from being this great loving joyful person and Marine, broken down into his deepest, darkest depths.
His role was so intense and all the intensity was in his eyes. I love that the most about Maguire, he acts with his eyes and in Brothers you could see how intense he was. You could see all the pain and fear in his eyes and it was so real, it scared me to think about what someone who has gone through those horrific events looks like.  I am blown away every time I watch this movie, not because of the movie, but because of his performance. I watch the movie, to watch him. He absolutely blew my mind.  While Maguire received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor for Brothers, it never went further than that. I wanted so badly to hear his name Oscar nominations morning instead of Jeremy Renner, George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges or Colin Firth. I’m not taking anything away from any of their performances, but I was really rooting for Maguire, because he truly deserved it. But I’m also a realist and knew it wasn’t going to happen.  2009 was a tough year, so many actors deserved to get nominated and Maguire got the boot. But unfortunately, actors sometimes don’t get nominated for the best performance of their career, but the good part about having a career is that, there will be more great performances. I just don’t know how you can get more real than how he was in Brothers.

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Tobey Maguire is a wonderful, brilliant actor who sadly, still has to pay his dues in the industry. He has a short but impressive resume that gets overlooked by so many people, so many times. But that doesn’t stop him from being the talented actor he is. Just remember what I said; Maguire’s best talent is that he acts with his eyes. Watch any movie he has been in and you will see that. I hope one of these days; Tobias Vincent Maguire is rewarded with an Academy Award, because he is truly an actor that deserves it.

About Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of AwardsCircuit.com. Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He’s also an active member of New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times, CNN.com, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.