Each year, the Oscars honors a select group of talented individuals. However, they also leave four times as many people snubbed for a well deserved wins. Many of today’s hardest working individuals still have yet to make that coveted trip to the podium at the Dolby Theater. Every other week, we will spotlight an actor or crew member with a film coming out that week that is most overdue for an Oscar.
It’s a tough task to find someone overdue for an Oscar in a Steven Spielberg movie. Not only is the man an three time Oscar winner, he also tends to work with similarly lauded legends behind the camera. Even last year’s surprise supporting actor winner, Mark Rylance, headline’s the film. However, Spielberg has cast the perennially undervalued Rebecca Hall in a supporting role. She is not just overdue for an Oscar win, she is overdue for her first Oscar nomination.
The closest Rebecca Hall has come to an Oscar nomination was in 2008 for the Woody Allen modern classic, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” While Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for her role as the unhinged ex-wife, Hall went emptyhanded for her performance as Vicky, the Woody Allen surrogate. While that part usually goes unnoticed, Hall knocks the role out of the park. The film follows two best friends on a trip to Barcelona who attract the eye of a local lothario. Hall plays Vicky, the more levelheaded friend working on her Masters in Catalan identity and preparing for her marriage to her blasé fiancé, Doug. Hall fantastically shades the inner conflict within Vicky. As she approaches the life she’s always wanted, she only grows more attracted to a man she has no future with.
She received her only Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her performance. However, she lost to Sally Hawkins for “Happy-Go-Lucky,” who also just missed a nomination. While the Best Actress race was always going to include Kate Winslet (who won that year for “The Reader”), Meryl Streep (“Doubt”) and Anne Hathaway (“Rachel Getting Married”). Melissa Leo’s nomination for “Frozen River” was a happy surprise. Either Hall or Hawkins should have replaced the solid, but not revolutionary performance by Angelina Jolie for “Changeling.”
Hall has also been the bright spot in a variety of strong ensembles. Her breakout role came in Christopher Nolan’s 2006 magician thriller, “The Prestige.” Hall put herself on the map going toe to toe with Christian Bale as his wife. After “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Hall has a particularly memorable 2010. She grounded Ben Affleck’s big Oscar play “The Town” with her quiet intensity as Claire Keesey. As a bank teller who becomes the central hostage in a robbery, Hall perfectly conveys a woman who falls for her captor after the ordeal is over. Jeremy Renner walked away with the Oscar nomination. Blake Lively and the late Pete Postlethwaite stole the rest of the accolades and conversation. However, Hall acts as the female anchor and never received the credit she deserved for the role.
Perhaps the lack of attention to her role in “The Town” was because of Hall’s other great ensemble performance. Hall was integral to the indie gem “Please Give,” which received positive critical attention. The pitch perfect ensemble cast included Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Sarah Steele and Ann Guilbert. As Rebecca, the single, depressive granddaughter just trying to get her acidic grandmother through her final days, Hall was able to effectively deadpan her way through the dramedy. The entire cast was honored with the Robert Altman Award at the Indie Spirit Awards. It was nominated for Best Ensemble at the Gotham Awards.
Since 2010, Hall found herself going for thankless parts in big budget blockbusters. They ranged from the MCU success “Iron Man 3” to the bomb “Transcendence.” None made adequate use of her talent. However, in last year’s thriller “The Gift,” Hall proved yet again she can turn in nuanced and complex performances. Coming up, Hall has “The Dinner,” Oren Moverman’s new film co-starring Chloe Sevigny, Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Steve Coogan. Hopefully this brings her back to her strengths as an ensemble cast member.
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” – Vicky
“Please Give” – Rebecca
“The Gift” – Robyn
“The Town” – Claire Keesey
“The Prestige” – Sarah Borden