Most Known For: “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “Bruce Almighty,” “The Truman Show”
Snubbed For: “The Truman Show,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” “Man on the Moon”
It is a well-known fact that the Academy is not as accepting of comedy or comedic actors. To that extent it is not a surprise that Jim Carrey has gone his career without an Oscar nomination. However, Carrey has had a number of performances where he was able to find a brilliant balance between the comedy that made him a star and the emotional material that should have landed him an Oscar nomination.
We were first introduced to the Canadian comedian in supporting roles in films like “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “Earth Girls Are Easy.” He would have his break out in 1994 though when he starred in a trio of films – “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask” and “Dumb and Dumber.” These films cemented him as one of the best comics working with a commitment to the wacky that still goes unchallenged.
But it was hard to gauge his true acting abilities until he starred in Peter Weir’s 1998 film “The Truman Show.” For the first half of the film Carrey was a slightly quieter version of his past roles; more controlled, but still the actor who at one point talked out of his butt. The more the film progressed though, and the more Truman began to realize something was askew, Carrey proved he had greater grasp on it all then we did.
He’d follow-up “The Truman Show” with “Man on the Moon,” a bio of comedian Andy Kaufman. Once again, Carrey was able to use his own innate comic abilities to bring the humor, but it is in the more serious moments with Kaufman’s girlfriend, and as he attempts to deal with his cancer diagnosis, that Carrey truly shines. Carrey received a number of critic citations, a nomination for best actor at SAG and won the Golden Globe for comedy actor (he also won Best Actor in a Drama for “The Truman Show”), still the Academy chose not to recognize him.
Carrey would go back to more straightforward comedies for the next few years, until he landed the lead in Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” This is by far Carrey’s most dramatic role to date. He is forced to navigate the landscape of his own mind to save the relationship he had with his ex-girlfriend Clementine. Again Carrey would receive a few nominations from critics, a BAFTA and Golden Globe nom, but nothing from Oscar.
From 1994 to 2004 Carrey managed to mix blockbuster comedies and more prestige films relatively well. However, since “Eternal Sunshine,” Carrey has definitely been more one-sided. He sneaked in projects like “I Love You, Phillip Morris” but more or less he’s been sticking to moneymakers that don’t challenge him nearly as much as his earlier work.
It is truly disappointing because Carrey clearly has shown he can be quite astounding when he finds the right blend of comedy and drama in his films. There’s nothing to suggest that he won’t find those type of projects again somewhere down the line, but we don’t know of anything on the horizon for the actor; the only concrete film we have is “Dumb and Dumber To.” He has the talent to land an Oscar nomination one of these days, but he needs to be willing to take the risks that he took early in his career if he truly wants one.