I’m standing in for Clayton today and contributing the latest in the daily In Line series. It’s no secret that John Cusack is one of my favorite actors in the business, and when I tell people that he’s never been nominated for an Academy Award, a surprising percentage of them are shocked. Their disbelief is warranted, as Cusack has delivered a number of memorable performances in his career, ranging from his breakout in Say Anything…(1989) to his terrific turn in Woody Allen‘s Bullets Over Broadway (1994) to his Golden Globe nominated role in High Fidelity (2000). Cusack was also unjustly ignored by pretty much everyone for his baity performance in Grace is Gone (2007), perhaps a signal that Oscar isn’t too interested in the man yet.
IMDb currently lists Cusack as having a 70 film resume, and it speaks to his undervalued talent that fewer of them are romantic comedies than you’d think. In fact, of late he’s been mostly mired in a string of action flicks, which have had varying degrees of quality and success attached to them (one has been shelved for years and a few more are on the way). He’s been able to mix in heavy dramas, horror, thrillers, and even a sci-fi film or two. Give or take the past couple of years, he’s always been able to elevate whatever he was in, and as audience members we were more interested in said projects because of his participation.
While his sister Joan Cusack has been nominated for Oscars twice now, John only has that sole Globe nod to his credit. Precursor groups have often seen fit to push him aside for someone else whenever he’s given a performance that deserves consideration. For years I always figured his next quality turn would get him some attention, but I’m starting to re-assess that. Cusack himself has seemingly grown disinterested in making those kinds of movies too, though ultimately that could be what eventually gets him his attention.
The next few years seem unlikely to get Cusack his date with Oscar, and before anyone asks…no, he’s not getting a surprise Supporting Actor nod for The Paperboy on Thursday. He has a villainous turn coming in The Frozen Ground, plus more action/thriller titles in Five Minutes to Live, Grand Piano, Motel, and The Numbers Station. I’m slightly less optimistic about his turn as Richard Nixon in The Butler than I would have been before his last collaboration with Lee Daniels, but perhaps he could surprise with his supporting part in the comedy Adult World. Shanghai might come out one day, but I’ve finally stopped predicting him for that sight unseen…
ADVICE: John, you really need to get away from holding a gun (or playing historical figures…Edgar Allen Poe wasn’t your finest hour). I suggest trying to work with Cameron Crowe again, and even maybe Woody Allen or Spike Jonze one more time. Also, don’t stop writing films that fit your talents. High Fidelity remains a classic, and while War, Inc. underwhelmed, Grosse Pointe Blank is an underrated gem. You’ve got the talent, I just want to see the effort again sir. I’m confident you’ll get a nomination one of these days (winning is another story), but I’d like it to be before you’re an old man, so don’t let me down!