Most Known For: “The Sopranos,” “Enough Said,” “
Snubbed For: “Enough Said,” “In the Loop”
It’s been more than a year since James Gandolfini passed away, but this week marks the last time we will get to see Gandolfini on the big screen as he stars alongside Tom Hardy in the crime drama “The Drop.” Gandolfini will always be known as Tony Soprano from one of HBO’s most acclaimed series, “The Sopranos,” but Gandolfini was a star on both the small and big screen and it is a shame that the Academy will likely add him to one of their long list of those never nominated.
Though he didn’t truly break out until “The Sopranos” made its premiere in 1999, Gandolfini’s early career was filled with supporting turns in films like “True Romance,” “Crimson Tide” and “Get Shorty.” A highlight for Gandolfini was as part of the strong ensemble for the courtroom drama “A Civil Action.” His role as a key witness hesitant to testify was a vital piece, however brief.
“The Sopranos” would take up the majority of his time over the eight years it was on, and Gandolfini’s movies during the show’s run weren’t the most inspired, but no one could question Gandolfini’s ability as he was consistently winning raves as Tony and Emmy’s, nominated six times and winning three. He also won one Golden Globe out of four noms.
Gandolfini’s first big role post-Soprano’s role was in Armando Iannuci’s “In the Loop.” In this political satire, Gandolfini plays a U.S. general who is working with other politicians to prevent military action. He has a particularly hilarious scene where he tries to demonstrate a point with a child’s toy, and he is consistently solid throughout. Overall, the film belongs to Iannuci’s screenplay, and that is what the Academy chose to acknowledge.
Over the next few years his resume would be highlighted with roles in “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Welcome to the Rileys,” a reunion with HBO in “Cinema Verite,” “Killing Them Softly,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Some of his biggest acclaim in that time period came when he reunited with “Sopranos” creator David Chase in his feature film debut, “Not Fade Away.” There was an underground push for Gandolfini’s performance, but nothing materialized.
Gandolfini passed away in the summer of 2013 while in Italy. Shortly after, however, we would find Gandolfini’s best film performance. In Nicole Holofcener’s “Enough Said,” Gandolfini plays Albert, the love interest to Julia Louise-Dreyfus’ lead, Eva. Albert is a lovable oaf thanks in large part to the charisma that Gandolfini brings to the screen and the great chemistry he had with Louise-Dreyfus. Wave of support came in for his performance and, along with a number of critic citations, would go on to be nominated for a SAG Award for Best Supporting Actor. In a tough field, Gandolfini was one of the odd men out at the Oscars.
There’s still some hope that his performance in “The Drop” could get some support for another go at the Academy, but the early reviews, while positive toward him, focus more on a strong performance from Tom Hardy. Gandfolini’s legacy will live on for some time though thanks to “The Sopranos;” one of the finest performances in one of TV’s seminal series.
“The Drop” opens in theaters this Friday, Sept. 12.