Acting Snubs in the Leading Categories (2000-2012)

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We all know they happen, those performances that are somehow ignored by the Academy voters, often in favor of lesser work. In fact it has been happening since almost the very beginning, but in these days if intense campaigning, we are much more aware of who gets snubbed and who gets the nod. What shocks me about the acting branch is that actors do the nominating and one would assume that actors would appreciate a great performance, right? Well, maybe. For whatever reason some of the finest performances of the last twelve years have been ignored by the Academy, left out to be appreciated and celebrated in articles such as this. History will bear out the fact their work was outstanding, but they will not carry the tag Academy Award nominee. I think the snubs that shock me most are those that have taken home critics awards because one would believe they are at least on the radar of the Academy, but no, they obviously are not.
So here we go, the snubs in the categories of Best Actor and Best Actress, year by year. Watch for a follow up on the supporting categories within the week.

2000
Michael Douglas gave the finest performance of his career in Wonder Boys as a pot smoking, beloved professor struggling to write his next book after a huge success the first time out. Douglas won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Actor, but come Oscar time was not among the final five, and considering the award was won by a lesser performance from Russell Crowe in Gladiator, it seems Douglas was indeed robbed.
Over in the Best Actress category a career might have been very different had a nomination been awarded to The X Files’ Gillian Anderson for her haunting and heartbreaking performance as the tragic Lilly in The House of Mirth. Displaying a range normally associated with Annette Bening, Anderson was simply magnificent in the role and finished runner up in the balloting for the New York Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actress. How different her career might have been with a nomination. Anderson was simply brilliant in the film, and deserved that nomination.

2001
How did the National Society of Film Critics and the Hollywood Foreign Press award Gene Hackman their Best Actor prize for The Royal Tenenbaums, but the Academy missed him for a nomination? How does that happen that an acclaimed Academy Award winner is missed entirely in a year that he gave the year’s best performance?
Right behind Hackman was another icon, the great Jack Nicholson in The Pledge for director Sean Penn. As a retired cop who makes a promise that will lead him into madness, Nicholson gave one of his best performances.
Audrey Tautou’s lovely performance in Amelie was the sparkplug of that delightfully daffy movie and I was mystified she was overlooked because her gamine performance was perfection.

2002
Was it that he had won twice and been nominated for others that impacted Tom Hanks chances in Road to Perdition (2002), one of his very best performances, and certainly the darkest role of his career? Hanks and the film were brilliant, but the Academy did not seem to notice, which must have stung.
Despite some of the best reviews of his career Robin Williams did not make the cut for his psychotic camera clerk in One Hour Photo. As Sy, a disturbed man who fixates on what he considers the perfect family and stalks them, Williams was chilling.
For her work in the bizarre independent film Secretary actress Maggie Gyllenhaal earned great reviews and should have had herself an Oscar nod.

2003
Let’s start with the ladies because there are three who should have made the final five, with all due respect to those who did. If Bill Murray was deserving for Lost in Translation (2003) so was his co-star Scarlett Johansson who gave a lovely, luminous performance. We understand what Murray’s character sees in her; we understand why he wants to be with her, and why she comes to mean so much to him.
Evan Rachel Wood dominated Thirteen with a fierce and raging performance as a troubled teen in turmoil, acting out in the worst possible way to attract the attentions of the so called “in” crowd. Watching her descent into criminal activity is heartbreaking because we see what she was at the film’s beginning and mourn the loss of that girl.
And finally Jennifer Connelly, who stood by and watched her co-stars nominated in House of Sand and Fog while she was ignored. She is outstanding as a desperate alcoholic who loses her house in a series of paper work errors and confusion, and her own ignorance. It is a bold and brave performance from this exceptionally gifted actress.
For the men, Tom Cruise gave one of his best performances in The Last Samurai, a sprawling adventure film that sees Cruise, a western hero who saw the hell of Little Big Horn sailing to Japan where he encounters the samurai warriors and finds he is at home and at peace with them. It’s a great performance from Cruise who hurls himself into the role with blind abandon and creates one of his most intriguing characters.

2004
Paul Giamatti? Where was Paul Giamatti when the nominations for Best Actor were announced, and just how the hell did the Academy voters miss him and nominated two of his co-stars from Sideways? The heart and soul of the finest American comedy since Tootsie (1982) won a slew of critics’ awards but oddly was not among the final five for the Oscar, which frankly, he should have won, with all apologies to Jamie Foxx in Ray.
Liam Neeson took home the Los Angeles film Critics Award for Best Actor and some of the best reviews of his career as ground breaking sex therapist Alfred Kinsey in Kinsey, only to see his co-star Laura Linney nominated (rightly so). Neeson should have been there.
Kevin Bacon gave a brave, troubling performance as a recently released pedophile trying to get back into society in The Woodsman, knowing he is hated and despised by everyone he encounters, including his own family. Bacon pulls no punches in the performance which might have scared Oscar voters away, being far too real for them. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Though she won for Erin Brockovich (2000) and announced while accepting the award she might never get another chance at the Oscar, Julia Roberts gave an exceptional performance in Closer, as a woman trying to decide who she should be with, hurting both of them in the process.
And in the bravest an actress gave in 2004, Nicole Kidman was breathtaking in Birth as a woman who encounters what might be the reincarnation of her dead husband in a ten year old boy, who knows everything about her. Kidman was remarkable in the film, showing exceptional range and real soul.

2005
He gave humanity to Adolf Hitler, something I never thought any actor would do, yet Bruno Ganz did so in the German film Downfall (2005). For that alone, Ganz should have been among the nominees for Best Actor.
With him Viggo Mortensen deserved a nod for his powerful performance as the ex-mobster turned small town businessman and family man in A History of Violence.
The only trouble with The Upside of Anger and Joan Allen’s mesmerizing performance was that the film was released so early in 2005 and come voting time had been forgotten. Allen was superb; funny, wounded, hurt and troubled, a mother protecting her children and struggling with the loss of her husband, who is closer than she realizes.

2006
Maggie Gyllenhaal again, this time for Sherrybaby, a film and performance Meryl Streep appreciated and acknowledge at the Golden Globes. As the recently released convict, struggling with the abuse she has endured at the hands of her father, Gyllenhaal was tragic and yet strong, willing to do anything to protect her child.
Though not as widely acclaimed as it might have been to land in the Oscar race, Kirsten Dunst was terrific in Marie Antoinette, while Beyonce Knowles was equally fine in Dreamgirls, both nomination worthy.
Though Leonardo di Caprio was nominated for Best Actor, I have never felt it was for the right film. Up for his mercenary in Blood Diamond, a fine performance it did not come close to his stunning work in The Departed as the paranoid, terrified on the edge undercover cop far too close to mobster Jack Nicholson.
Clive Owen did Oscar worthy work in Children of Men, but I felt the film was released too late in the year and far too under the radar to see a good campaign mounted for the actor and others in the film.

2007
One of the very best movie years EVER, 2007 is a challenge to criticize the nominees because the Academy did a great job in nominating the right actors, but in fairness to the performances NOT nominated, there were a few that should have been there.
Emile Hirsch was nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actor for his astounding performance in Into the Wild and incredibly was not nominated for Best Actor. How? How did that happen??
Snubbed as well was Brad Pitt as Jesse James in the sublime The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, in which Pitt created the finest incarnation of the outlaw ever put on film. The performance might be the best of his career.
Though Canadian, and not really campaigned strongly, Gordon Pinsent drew the attention of no less than Daniel Day-Lewis who celebrated his performance the night he picked up his own Best Actor award from the New York Film Critics Circle in Sarah Polley’s Away from Her. Where would Julie Christie be without Pinsent in this powerful, haunting love story?
And Amy Adams in Enchanted was just perfect, coming to vivid life as a cartoon character made flesh. Watch how she moves, how she speaks and the perfect animation in her face throughout this wonderful film and performance.

2008
Both Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet deserved nominations for leading actor and actress for their perfect performances in Revolutionary Road. Winslet would win Best Actress for her lesser work in The Reader, but should have won for this…period. One of the rare times the Golden Globes got it right over Oscar.
Michelle Williams, fast becoming one of the finest actresses in movies might have earned a nod for Wendy and Lucy, an odd little love story about a girl and her dog.
And yes, Clint. Should he have been nominated for Gran Torino? I leave it to you. Maybe, maybe not, but if for sentimental reasons then a resounding no.

2009
Where was Viggo Mortensen for The Road, which was easily the best performance I saw in 2009? Screening the film at TIFF for the first time, Mortensen staggered me with his quietly forceful work in the film reminding us of what a resourceful, superb actor he is.
Ben Foster might have been up for Best Actor in The Messenger as an injured marine who earns the job of telling loved ones about their loss. Unusually heartbreaking the film packs an enormous wallop, and Foster is simply stunning.
The great Tilda Swinton was superb in Julia as a hellcat who ends up with a kid she does not wish to be with in tow, running from trouble. Again radically different for Swinton she proves again her depth and range.

2010
A tough year because the Academy got a lot of things right. Certainly Robert Duvall should have made the cut for Get Low, and George Clooney was terrific as the hitman on the run in The American. Oddly I quite liked Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris which earned good reviews, but was under seen despite offering Carrey what I believe to be his most challenging role which he met with his finest work.
Paul Giamatti won the Golden Globe (Comedy/ Musical) for his biting performance in Barney’s Version, a Canadian film which offered the actor a role that spanned forty years ending with him in the throes of Alzheimer’s. He was simply marvelous in the film, but again, under seen.
Anne Hathaway was very strong in Love and Other Drugs, but if an actress should have felt robbed it was Diane Lane was superb in Secretariat, elevating the film into a higher realm with the sheer force of her honest and very fine performance.

2011
You have to wonder how the Academy missed Tilda Swinton again, this time for her paralyzing brilliant turn in We Need to Talk About Kevin, which Streep or not, should have won Swinton the Oscar for Best Actress. Quietly terrified for much of the film, incredibly of her sociopath and finally psychotic son Kevin, Swinton is a study in terror, knowing she is living with a monster.
In the Best Actor category I thought it inconceivable that Michael Fassbender was ignored for his searing work in Shame, which reminded me and so many others of Brando in Last Tango in Paris (1973) with its raw carnality. Fassbender was superb in the film. Though it might not be popular today so I quite liked Mel Gibson in The Beaver, and had he not had the troubles he has been having I am not sure how the Academy would have been able to ignore his brave work in that film. What could have been ridiculous was instead shattering. And shoot me but I liked Leonardo di Caprio in J. Edgar, and wonder where his nomination was.

Speaking of snubs, check out the Winners of the Awards Circuit Community Awards – Best of the Decade (2000-2009), which was voted on earlier this year.  Here at the Awards Circuit, you have a voice too.

Best Picture
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Runner Up – The Dark Knight (2008)

Best Directing
Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Runner Up – Martin Scorsese – The Departed (2006)

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood (2007)

Runner Up – Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Charlize Theron – Monster (2003)

Runner Up – Kate Winslet – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)

Runner Up – Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Mo’Nique – Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (2009)

Runner Up – Kate Hudson – Almost Famous (2000)

Best Original Screenplay
Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Runner Up – Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Runner Up – Charlie Kaufman & Donald Kaufman – Adaptation (2002)

Best Cast Ensemble
The Cast of: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Runner Up – (TIE) – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and The Hours (2002)

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezski – Children of Men (2006)

Runner Up – Roger Deakins – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Best Achievement in Film Editing
Dody Dorn – Memento (2001)

Runner Up – Lee Smith – The Dark Knight (2008)

Best Original Score
Clint Mansell – Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Runner Up – Howard Shore – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Avatar (2009)

Runner Up – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Best Animated Feature
Wall-E (2008)

Runner Up – Finding Nemo (2003)

Best Foreign Language Film
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Runner Up – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Comment and Discuss!

  • Kevin

    I would add Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson for In Bruges in 2008. How neither of them, especially Ferrell, didn’t get at least a nomination is ridiculous in my opinion. I would have had Ferrell win for sure over Sean Penn.

    • Steve Glansberg

      I absolutely second that. My version of the 2008 best actor race would have been very different, highlighting what I believe were three films that were snubbed in multiple categories: In Bruges, Che, and Two Lovers.

      Best Actor: Benicio del Toro “Che”
      Runners-up: Mickey Rourke “The Wrestler”, Colin Farrell “In Bruges”, Frank Langella “Frost/Nixon”, Joaquin Phoenix “Two Lovers”

  • Steven Paulson

    Well, you got two of the big Paul Giamatti snubs, at least. But he deserved at least a nomination, if not the outright win, in 2003 as well, for his work as Harvey Pekar in American Splendor. Who did Giamatti tick off at AMPAS that they keep ignoring him?

    Oh, also, I know the roles were slight, but two of my favorite performances of the decade that were overlooked were Ralph Fiennes as Harry “You’re an Inanimate ______ Object” Walters in In Bruges – he should have won for that line alone – and Fred Malamed as Sy Ableman in A Serious Man.

  • Jeremy DC

    I agree with you on a lot of these, epecially the Maggie Gyllenhaal picks. My snubs are:
    2000 – Mark Ruffalo for You Can Count On Me
    Michelle Yeoh for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    2001 – Guy Pearce for Memento
    Naomi Watts for Mulholland Drive
    2002 – Cillian Murphy for 28 Days Later
    Maggie Gyllenhaal for Secretary
    2003 – Paul Giamatti for American Splendor
    Scalett Johansson for Lost in Translation
    2004 – Paul Giamatti for Sideways
    Jim Carrey for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Uma Thurman for Kill Bill
    2005 – Steve Carell for The 40 Year Old Virgin
    Joan Allen for The Upside of Anger
    2006 – Clive Owen for Children of Men
    Maggie Gyllenhaal for Sherrybaby
    2007 – Joseph Gordon-Levitt for The Lookout
    Keira Knightley for Atonement
    2008 – Sam Rockwell for Snow Angels
    Kate Beckinsale for Snow Angels
    2009 – Matt Damon for The Informant
    Emily Blunt for The Young Victoria

    • Jeremy DC

      2010 – Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine
      Julianne Moore for The Kids Are Alright
      2011 – Ryan Gosling for Drive
      Charlize Theron for Young Adult

  • Sam

    If you nominate an actor, another has to be replace.
    2011 Michael Fassbender, Shame (instead of Demian Bichir)
    Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin (instead of Rooney Mara)
    2010
    Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine (instead of Javier Bardem)
    2008
    Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road (instead of Brad Pitt or Richard Jenkins)
    Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long (instead of Melissa Leo)
    2007
    Emile Hirsch, Into The Wild (linstead of Tommy Lee Jones)
    2005
    Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardner (instead of Terrence Howard)
    2004
    Paul Giamatti, Sideways (instead of Clint Eastwood)
    2003
    Paddy Considine, In America (instead of Jude Law)
    Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation (instead of Keisha Castle-Hughes)
    2002
    Meryl Streep, The Hours (instead of Diane Lane)
    2000 Michael Douglas, Wonder Boys (instead of Javier Bardem)

  • missionstatement1224

    Some very nice choices, specifically 2002 with Tom Hanks ans Robin Williams. Here are mine (these are all taken from my personal ballots:

    2011- Ryan Gosling (Drive)
    Keira Knightley (Last Night)

    2010- Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception and Shutter Island), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Mark Walhberg (The Fighter)
    Emma Stone (Easy A)

    2009-Paul Rudd (I, Love You Man), John Krasinski (Away We Go), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer), Jake Gyllenhaal (Brothers-the true lead)
    Natalie Portman (Brothers), Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer)

    2008-James McAvoy (Wanted), Michael Pena (The Lucky Ones)
    Rachel McAdams (The Lucky Ones), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)

    2007-James McAvoy (Atonement), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl)-don’t know how he missed with everyone else nominating him
    Amy Adams (Enchanted), Keira Knightley (Atonement)

    2006-Clive Owen (Children of Men)
    Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labyrinth)

    2005-Russel Crowe (Cinderella Man), Edward Norton (Down in the Valley), Steve Carell (The 40 Year Old Virgin)
    Naomi Watts (King Kong), Q’rianka Kilcher (The New World)

    2004-Jeff Bridges (The Door in the Floor), Jim Carrey (ESOTSM)
    Rachel McAdams (The Notebook)

    2003-Tom Cruise (The Last Samurai), Tobey Maguire (Seabiscuit)
    Jennifer Connelly (The House of Sand and Fog)-the only real good thing about the film

    2002-Tom Hanks (Road to Perdition)-can’t believe it, Tom Cruise (Minority Report), Robin Williams (One Hour Photo)

    2001-Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko), Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!), Gene Hackman (The Royal Tenenbaums)
    Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries)

    2000-George Clooney (O Brother, Where Art Thou), Denzel Washington (Remember the Titans
    Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball), Kate Winslet (Quills)

    • Carlos

      Completely agree on Gosling last year, his work on “Drive” is impecable, unfortunately the film was completely overlooked… it’s the king od material the Academy doesn’t knows how to deal with.

  • Joe Gouveia

    2004 – Jim Carrey for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Nicole Kidman for Dogville
    2006 – Both Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale for The Prestige
    2007 – Mathieu Amalric in The Diving Bell and Butterfly

  • Mikael

    BJORK should have been nominated – and won – in 2001. Period.

  • koook160 (Robert MacFarlane)

    For me in each year. Behold the wall of text!:

    2000 Best Actor: Christan Bale’s wacko cuckoo in American Psycho was both creepy and quite hilarious.
    2000 Best Actress: I’ll get back to you on this one.

    2001 Best Actor: Yes, Hackman was amusing in The Royal Tennenbaums, but I can’t stress enough how much I hate that film (I’m a broken record, aren’t I?). Guy Pearce in Memento, on the other hand was almost too painful for me. I don’t think people appreciate the difficulty of having to play a character that cannot have an arc. The fact that he could remain consistent in that role was impressive in its own right, but his steely gaze and determination made Leonard Shelby a memorable and iconic character. Now if only Pearce can go back to understated performances like this instead of the insufferable histrionics and mugging he did in Lawless.
    2001 Best Actress: Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive. Say what you will about the film, and Lynch in general. The thing about Mulholland Drive is that the key to liking, or even semi-understanding the film lies with Watts. In the first half, I can understand not liking her performance as the Pollyena-like Betty. But once the second half rolls around, and we realize that “Betty” was just a dream. Watts as Diane makes it all worthwhile. Her bitter disconnect and cynical view makes us understand why she wanted to be perfect.

    2002 Best Actor: I guess I’ll say Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me if You Can. Outside of me liking that film A LOT more than most people, he was just so much fun in the movie. That, and he nailed the emotional scenes involving Walken very well.
    2002 Best Actress: Believe it or not, I genuinely love Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl. I admit, I identified with her character’s depression more than anyone else I know. I’ll let her subsequent flurry of shit rom-coms slide, because this was a surprisingly moving and accurate look at depression and guilt.

    2003 Best Actor: I’m afraid to say it. Those who haven’t stopped reading this post after Aniston surely will now. All right, brace yourself… Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass. I’ll leave out the element of surprise some people had when the realized he could act and focus on how he played the character. Stephen Glass even in the end is an enigma. At the same time, all we see is lies and deceit. Christensen deliberately playing the “aw shucks” card all the time made me hate his character even more. I admit, I have a weakness for con-men performances, but what really clinched this one is when he (intentionally) made himself look pathetic and come up with that detestable “Are you mad at me?”. I’ll just pretend the Star Wars prequels (or really, anything else in his career) don’t exist.
    2003 Best Actress: Evan Rachel Wood in thirteen played what every parent fears the most: rebellion. While at first I had some trouble believing a thirteen-year-old was capable of this sort of behavior, I took a look at the kids in my town and realized “That was pretty realistic”

    2004 Best Actor: How the hell Jim Carrey got snubbed for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I will never, ever know. Ignore his over-the-top comedies from the nineties, THIS was real acting. I always get teary-eyed with his “I wish that I stayed” speech.
    2004 Best Actress: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 2 was the emotional half to her badass seen in Vol. 1. Great chemistry with Carradine (who should have been nominated too!) and great scenes at the end with her kid.

    2005 Best Actor: Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale may have played one of the least likable characters I’ve ever seen. Bernard Berkman is an untraditional sort of villain. He’s not obviously against his sons, but he has no trouble manipulating them just to get petty revenge against his ex-wife. His callous and shameful behavior, for some reason, is completely watchable while being appalling at the same time.
    2005 Best Actress: Michelle Monaghan in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did something that on paper is impossible. How can an actress fix a flaw in the screenplay without editing it herself? By being utterly charming and sympathetic. Yes, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang could have fell into a MAJOR pitfall with the characterization of Harmony. Monaghan supersedes the inheritably sexist depiction of her character as a shallow love interest and floozy in every way. She took a huge flaw in the film and fixed it. That, to me, is impressive.

    2006 Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed. Yeah, I don’t get why Warner Bros. tried the last minute push for Supporting, because this was a much better performance than his miscast role in Blood Diamond (yikes, that accent). I always found Billy Costigan to be the backbone to Scorsese’s wonderful thriller. There are some scenes I don’t think DiCaprio will ever top in his career in this film. His subtly anxious behavior around the bombastic Frank Costello. His heartbroken face when the only friend he had in Madolyn turns him away. His final confrontation with Sullivan. I really wish that the Academy didn’t screw this one up so royally.
    2006 Best Actress: Hey, remember that sexist characterization I talked about with Monaghan? Well, Maggie Gyllenhaal had the same problem in Sherrybaby. But instead of making her character one way, she portrays her as a very human and flawed person. A lot of the things she did were her fault, but I do think she wanted to change. Certainly one of her crowning moments as an actress.

    2007 Best Actor: I know Casey Affleck was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but he really wasn’t and everyone knew it. Saying he’s a supporting role in a film that he co-anchors with Brad Pitt is insulting to him, saying he isn’t “important” enough to be considered a leading man, and insulting to his co-stars like Sam Rockwell, who never had a chance to be nominated because of this fraud. Regardless, Affleck gave the best performance of the decade. Yeah, I know Daniel Day-Lewis was great and all, but even Daniel Plainview wasn’t as complex or rich of character as Robert Ford. Creating such a flawed and human character, as well as making us sympathize with him despite his shortcomings isn’t something to ignore. Besides that, can anyone say with a straight face they were expecting such an expressive face from Affleck?
    2007 Best Actress: Tang Wei in Lust, Caution. A lot of things prevented Wei from a nomination. There was no way in hell the Academy was going to nominate an Asian actress in an Asian film. They certainly weren’t going to nominate such a new face in an NC-17 film. Regardless, it was a hell of performance. Wei has to go through many changes throughout the movie and does so perfectly. Her transformation from a naïve young woman to an emotionally conflicted and disturbed spy is compelling, as is her ability to convincingly keep up the espionage act.

    2008 Best Actor: In Bruges is a film that has seemed to have grown in stature since its release, and so has Brenden Gleeson’s heartbreaking performance. His humorous interactions with Ferrell were one thing, but DAMN, I was not expecting to feel for his character so much. His expressions are some of the best acting I’ve seen.
    2008 Best Actress: I… uh. I haven’t seen many “snubbys” for this year. I’ll get back to you.

    2009 Best Actor: I admit, this one took a few viewings of the film before I could fully see the brilliance, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer is a more complex performance than I originally gave it credit for. At first glance, he portrays Ben as an everyday guy going through heartbreak. When I saw it again, I realized he went through more of an arc about realizing how selfish and naïve he was. Sort of like Ben by the end, when I revisited it I had to say “Why didn’t I see this before?”
    2009 Best Actress: Let’s be honest. 2009 sucked for Lead women. With the exceptions of Mulligan and Sidibe, the nominees weren’t that great. Bullock is one of the worst Oscar winners ever, Mirren shamelessly hammed it up, and Streep… actually she was alright. Not “great” Streep, but certainly entertaining. I guess if you considered her lead, I’d say Melanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds, but that’s a big if.

    2010 Best Actor: Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine. I don’t know why they would nominate Williams and not him, considering the symbiotic nature of their performances, but whatever. I liked his portrayal of a very flawed father and husband quite a bit. I also find it appalling when any critic takes sides with either character, ignoring the faults with one and focusing on the faults of the other. Both Gosling and Williams had flawed characters that they played, and they played them in a very realistic and human light.
    2010 Best Actress: I am no fan of Annette Bening. I never have, and maybe never will be. Her performance in The Kids are All Right was shrill and sometimes over-the-top with a lot of “look at me, I’m acting a lot, Oscar please!” scenes. Julianne Moore on the other hand, was great in that movie. She had a more complex and nuanced character that she played perfectly. Unfortunately, the third act sort of pushes her to the back seat, while simultaneously using Mark Ruffalo as a punching bag. Not a great movie, but yes, Moore was deserving.

    2011 Best Actor: Michael Fassbender had a very tricky role in Shame. Not just the sex, but his character is a cipher, and really Brandon didn’t have a proper arc. Still, that really wasn’t the point of Shame anyway, but it can be difficult for an actor to find their character in such a place. Somehow, despite this, Fassbender not only managed to connect to the audience but make us truly sympathize with his plight.
    2011 Best Actress: Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene was a great revelation. Her increasingly paranoid performance sang, even though her film was very, very flawed. Unfortunately, it seems that like me, the Academy didn’t like the movie very much. At least I can separate the performance from the film.

  • Genadijus

    It’s interesting, because Naomi Watts was robbed and didn’t get nominated for “Mulholland Drive”, “King Kong”, “Paited Veil” and “Fair Game”. She really was one of the most interestingly working actress of that decade.
    Secondly, we all know that Oscar is coming for her within a couple of years, “Sunlight Jr.”, “Diana” and “The Rose of Desery” will on the top of contenders lists.

  • MovieFan

    Completely agree on Hackman in 01, though his 74 snub for The Conversation was even worse. He should have had 7 noms in his total career.

  • paula gajardo

    For me, Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levit has to be nominated in 2010 and 2011. 2010 Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (He was better than Michelle Williams) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for (500) Days of Summer (My favourite movie from that year) and 2011 Ryan Gosling for Drive (I love that movie) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for 50/50 (He was just simple terrific!)
    And I think that Kirsten Dunst did a great job in Melancholia, she deserves a nomination, and Evan Rachel Wood in Thirtheen, i have 13 when the movie came out, so i was really shocked that someone transforms in that way, she was great. And of course JIM CARREY from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he was robbed again, (the first time was for THE TRUMAN SHOW)

  • tomaszapa

    I have to mention Michael Shannon in Take shelter. His work in this film is FANTASTIC. And his partner, Jessica Chastain, also was brilliant. Neither one of them was nominated.