Under the Circuit: Jeff Daniels

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THE-NEWSROOM-Jeff-Daniels

Most Known For: “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Newsroom,” “Dumb and Dumber To”

Snubbed For: “Terms of Endearment,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “The Squid and the Whale”

“Dumb and Dumber To” won the box-office this past weekend, and while it’s is fair to say that the Farrelly brother’s sequel isn’t exactly something that would get much consideration from voting awards bodies, its two stars have shown in their careers to be worthy of some attention. However we already covered Jim Carrey but his counterpart Jeff Daniels has also been surprisingly overlooked throughout his career despite great work.

1cd56eaa46eae080766f5414098dfd3dDaniels didn’t have to wait long into his career for his big break, his first movie was Milos Forman’s “Ragtime,” which would be nominated for 8 Oscars. His follow-up? James L. Brooks’ “Terms of Endearment” where he played the husband to Debra Winger’s character. Daniels is the only one of his co-stars not to earn an Oscar nomination for his work, but both Jack Nicholson and John Lithgow were nominated for Supporting and unless your “The Godfather” it’s not too easy to get three performances into one category.

The young Daniels continued his hot streak with his third feature film, Woody Allen’s “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” Daniels pulls double duty for this film as he plays film character Tom Baxter and the real-life actor who portrays him, Gil Shepherd. Daniels was great as both characters – the optimistic, gung-ho film character and the more cynical B-list movie star softened temporarily by Mia Farrow’s lead. Daniels would receive a Golden Globe nomination for his work, but that was it.

For the next 20 years he would be a great asset to every movie he appeared in, including Allen’s “Radio Days,” “Speed” and “Pleasantville.” He would also earn a few more citations for his work in films like “Gettysburg” and “Something Wild.”

Without question though Daniels biggest snub to date is his performance in Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale.” As Bernard Berkman, Daniels gets to play an arrogant, wiser-than-thou literary professor whose divorce has a great affect on his two sons. A complete 180 from his most famous role in “Dumb and Dumber,” Daniels is astounding as his character’s selfish way of thinking is painful in and of itself, but even more so with how his character’s actions ripple to his kids. Daniels would get another Golden Globe nod and win Best Actor from the Spirit Awards, but Oscar did not come calling.Movie Squid Whale Jeff Dani-thumb-400x295-19423

Since then his most prominent role has been on the HBO series “The Newsroom,” which he would win an Emmy for. But he has not been absent from film, as he has had some fun supporting roles in films like “The Lookout,” “Away We Go” and “State of Play” and a lead turn in the indie “Paper Man.” “The Newsroom” is coming to an end this year, however, so what does Daniels have on the horizon?

As of right now we only know about his possible involvement with Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” but considering he would be joining a cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and others, you can expect that will be one of the most anticipated titles of 2015.

Prior to winning his Emmy for “The Newsroom” Daniels only award he received from his acting was a Golden Barka Lounger from the AARP for the Best Actor Over 50 for his “Squid and the Whale” performance. Thankfully, the Emmy helps fill out the mantle piece a little bit, but it’s a shame that an actor with Daniels’ resume and skill has not had the opportunity to hear his name called on Oscar nomination morning. Let’s hope that changes in the future.

  • Robert MacFarlane

    How could you not add him for Pleasantville?

    • Michael Balderston

      I love that movie and he is great in it, though I’d put him behind both Joan Allen and Macy as far as the film’s best. It’s just another great example of how mind boggling it is that he hasn’t even been nominated yet; looking at all he’s done he is one of the most underrated actors of his generation.

      • Robert MacFarlane

        I’d put him *slightly* ahead of Macy. Allen should have flat-out won Supporting Actress. Also, did you consider putting him in for Gettysburg? Because he was better than the actual Lead Actor winner that year.

  • Andrej Bosco

    Best movies:

    1) The Purple Rose of Cairo
    2) Something Wild
    3) Pleasantville

    Best performances:

    1) The Squid and the Whale
    2) Pleasantville
    3) The Purple Rose of Cairo