Monday, February 23, 2009

25 Greatest Snubs In Oscar History

From, a partial list of noteworthy performances that weren’t even nominated for an Oscar.

Philadelphia (1993)

It's easy to see this as Tom Hanks' movie. It was his character who suffered the indignities of being afflicted with AIDS, and Hanks won a well-deserved Oscar for his efforts. But Washington, as the ambulance-chasing homophobe, had the harder task. He had to coerce audiences, ever so gently, into realizing that his character represented our own ignorance, and then drag us on his path to enlightenment.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

There is the wonderful comedy of Kelly's acting in Stanley Donen's candied backstage musical — the sun-browned vanity he brings to his turn as a silent-film star. Then there is the cosmic wonder of his dancing: those muscular escapes, that uplifting splash through a downpour. In contrast to Fred Astaire (prince of the effortless glide), Kelly shows you his heartiness and his heart.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Who knew milk and Beethoven could be so downright disturbing? Throw in a bowler hat and cane, and you have one of cinema's most indelible images of apathetic evil. But McDowell was more than simply a visual (and virulent) centerpiece. As ruthless hooligan-turned-aversion therapy patient Alex, he ran the emotional gamut — delivering riveting portrayals of both sinister charm and helpless dread.

Ordinary People (1980)

With Mary Tyler Moore playing so wildly against type, and Timothy Hutton hogging the psychiatric spotlight, Sutherland was People's only star ignored by the Oscars. Which is understandable: As the devoted husband and dad in Robert Redford's Best Picture winner, the actor exists in the movie's negative spaces — the ultimate middleman, he's the glue that can't keep the Jarrett clan from coming apart.

Body Heat (1981)

With her smoldering voice, lithe body, and a temperature that runs higher than 100 degrees, Turner's Matty Walker embodies the steamy dream of lowlife lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt). Turner, in her incendiary film debut, drapes Matty in haughty insolence, desperate unattainability, and seductive refinement. With amazing assurance, Turner turned up the sexual heat of the classic femme fatale while bowing to her stylish '40s forerunners.

Some Like It Hot (1959)

She drove everyone nuts. She arrived late on set, flubbed her lines, and deferred to her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, over director Billy Wilder. But she was Marilyn Monroe. And she was worth it. Sugar Kane, the ukulele-strumming, bourbon-swigging sexpot, is nothing if not pure Marilyn. Her wide-eyed, blissful sensuality is the perfect counterpart to Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon's drag show and confirmed what many already knew: that Monroe was a gifted comedian.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

We all know The Wizard of Oz is chockful of heart, brains, and courage, but the girl who made the whole thing dance was Garland. The 17-year-old had big shoes to fill working alongside old pros like Jack Haley (Tin Man), Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), and Bert Lahr (Lion), but her wide-eyed innocence and powerful voice are what truly brought the film over the rainbow. (They also helped land Garland a specially created Juvenile Award at the 1940 Oscars, a kiddie-table honor that's no longer passed out.)

The Godfather Part 2 (1974)

Michael got the brains, Sonny got the brawn, but Fredo — poor, forlorn Fredo — what did he get? Passed over. With Mike (Al Pacino) now in charge, the middle Mafia child is all impotence. The guy can't even betray right. Pitiable, but Cazale never plays it like that. He's awkward and sweet, and so very mournful of the old days. When he finally blurts his reasons for turning on his brother, it's with the resentment of a child. ''I'm not dumb! I'm smart and I want respect!'' he bellows, wobbling helplessly on a patio chair. Thanks to Cazale, who made just six movies, all great, before his death at 42, Fredo got the heart.

Jungle Fever (1991)

Spike Lee's inner-city melodrama is ostensibly about an affair between African-American architect Flipper (Wesley Snipes) and Italian-American secretary Angela (Annabella Sciorra), but Samuel L. Jackson steals the movie as Flipper's crackhead brother, Gator. In just five scenes, Jackson (who had completed real-life drug rehab mere months before filming) beams a lifetime of hurt and rage through his eyes.

Casablanca (1942)

When Bergman walks into Rick's Cafe, her Ilsa is ''the most beautiful woman ever to visit Casablanca.'' She pulls us in with a simmering-below-the-surface eroticism and an un-Hollywood freshness that makes her seem earthbound and attainable. And like all great screen actors, she made the camera an accomplice. Watch her face, held in a tight, caressing close-up, as Dooley Wilson's Sam first sings ''As Time Goes By.'' A lesser actress might have overemoted, but Bergman restricts expression to a minimum and just lets the camera play across that gorgeous profile.

Psycho (1960)

''We all go a little mad sometimes.'' No one can speak lines like that today without reflexively resorting to ''the psycho stutter'' or ''the psycho stare.'' Such unnaturalness is only natural — after a half century of serial-killer movies, we share a template for knife-wielding loonies. Perkins, the pioneer, had no such road map. For him, the tics were organic: He approached Norman Bates as a character, not a trope.

Honorable Mention: PATRICK SWAYZE
Road House (1989)

As Dalton (first name irrelevant) the "cooler," Swayze delivers classic lines like "Be nice," "It's my way or the highway," and "Pain don't hurt" with the sang froid of a Bogart or a Dean, but prefers to let his fists do more talking than his mouth. When an opponent gains the upper hand during a brawl and taunts Dalton ("I used to fuck guys like you in prison!"), you see the tangible progession of emotion on Swayze's face -- from confusion to fear to homicidal rage -- before he liberates the guy's larynx from his neck. Pain do hurt, at least for those who take on Dalton.

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  1. Kathleen Turner was great in Body Heat. The movie just begged for a sequel but one was never made. Regrettably, time [and cigarettes?] has not been good to Kathleen.

    Hope Patrick Swayze pulls through. The Beast is an excellent TV show.

  2. Good lord, I was scrolling on through this list, and there, right next to Donald Sutherland, was my giant cat. Thanks, Cary!

  3. Cazale was awesome. He was the Buscemi of his time, bringing pitifulness and ugly to new heights. Whereas Buscemi often plays it for dark laughs (ie. Fargo), Cazale had an amazing vulnerability that made him perfect for drama.

    And yes...pre-manlike Kathleen Turner was a stone cold fox.

  4. Yes, Cazale was indeed awesome, particularly as Fredo, and in Deer Hunter and Dog Day Afternoon.

  5. Oh, Roadhouse, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

  6. all of these were excellent preformances. one of my fovorite was clockwork orange. malcolm mcdowell made alex all his own. i hope no one ever gets the bright idea to remake this movie.

    ingred bergman is the epitomy of beaty and grace. the camera cant help but make love to her face.
    ph can only wish she has an enth of what ms bergman has.

  7. Another honorable mention: Sly Stallone in "Over the Top."

  8. Yes! The greatest movie ever made about professional arm wrestling.

  9. Gene Kelly had incredible talent and a wonderful smile.

  10. Really, really good list. Great performances and I am a huge fan of Cazale as well.

    But seriously, WTF happened to Kathleen Turner? *SHUDDER*



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