Oscar noms: their other 2018 performances (or, how to get an Oscar nom…hint: it helps if you are playing a human being)

Oscar noms: their other 2018 performances (or, how to get an Oscar nom…hint: it helps if you are playing a human being)

While we tend to think of Oscar acting nominees as being recognized as the “Best Lead Actor”, it’s actually the specific performance that is being recognized…not that person’s intrinsic acting abilities.

Most actors are inconsistent…sometimes, their performances are better than others (there are some possible exceptions…Vincent Price comes to mind as someone who always had a good performance). Sure, that could have to do with the material or the director or the amount of time that actor has to work on the part.

I always found John Carradine’s approach to that interesting. Carradine (father of David, Keith, and Robert) was a Shakespearean actor who appeared in prestige movies including the Grapes of Wrath, ended up in movies like The Astro-Zombies and Star Slammer. As I recall, he said he’d made it a rule to just always accept the next script that was offered. He thought that waiting for a “good script” and/or a “good director” was cheating…the actor’s job was acting, and they should do the best possible with whatever the situation was.

That’s not how most actors do it in Hollywood, and certainly not what their agents would want them to do. They choose roles in part because of how they will affect their careers (whether that’s because they want to make more money or get offered particular types of parts or work with particular directors).

So, while Melissa McCarthy was nominated for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” for her performance as Lee Israel (in Can You Ever Forgive Me?) that wasn’t her only performance last year. I suppose it was just a coin flip between that and her work as Detective Connie Edwards in The Happytime Murders, a movie with the tagline SEX. MURDER. PUPPETS. 😉

How about the other acting nominees? I’ll deliberately describe the parts in ways that might emphasize their non-Oscar bait qualities…that’s not meant to diminish those movies, it’s just fun to play up the contrast.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close nominated for Joan Castleman in The Wife

Close didn’t have another theatrical release in 2018…but The Wife was technically released in 2017. That year, she also appeared as Dr. Caroline Caldwell in The Girl with All the Gifts, an R-rated dystopian horror movie.

Lady Gaga nominated for Ally in A Star Is Born

No other theatrical releases in 2018

Olivia Colman nominated for Queen Anne in The Favourite

No other theatrical features in 2018…small screen roles included Strawberry the rabbit in Watership Down & Marion with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Yalitza Aparicio nominated for Roma in Roma

Only screen acting credit to date.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper nominated for Jack in A Star Is Born

Cooper appeared as Rocket Raccoon in Avengers: Infinity War.

Christian Bale nominated for Dick Cheney in Vice

Also appeared as Bagheera the panther in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.

Rami Malek nominated for Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

No other theatrical releases, but had a recurring role as Flip McVicker on BoJack Horseman, an animated series about a washed-up alcoholic horse.

Viggo Mortensen nominated for Tony Lip in Green Book

No other credits in 2018.

Williem Dafoe nominated for Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate

Also appeared as Vulko the merman in the movie Aquaman.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Adam Driver nominated for Flip Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman

As Toby in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, he goes time traveling and is mistaken for Sancho Panza.

Mahershala Ali nominated for Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book

Ali was in another Oscar-nominated movie…voicing Uncle Aaron in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Richard E. Grant nominated for John Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Played the leader of the Land of Snowflakes in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

Sam Elliot nominated for Bobby in a Star Is Born

I would have loved to have seenElliot’s nomination read out for Calvin Barr in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. 😉

Sam Rockwell nominated for George W. Bush in Vice

While uncredited, Rockwell appeared in Mute, set forty years in the future where Cactus Bill helps Leo.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams nominated for Lynne Cheney in Vice

No other theatrical release in 2018.

Emma Stone nominated for Abigail in The Favourite

On the small screen, co-starred with Jonah Hill in Maniac, the comedy-drama involving an experimental drug trial.

Marina de Tavira nominated for Senora Sofia in Roma

Appeared in Cómplices a comedy where a womanizing uncle takes his nephew on a beach trip to meet women.

Rachel Weisz nominated for Lady Sarah in The Favourite

Also appeared in The Mercy…but that’s based on real, serious events, so doesn’t support the premise of this article well. 😉

Regina King nominated for Sharon Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk

No other theatrical releases in 2018.

What can we determine from this?

Assuming that the actors didn’t have a quantum leap in improved acting ability between movies, it’s safe to say that playing a Homo sapiens is a better bet than another species (raccoon, panther, merman…um, snowflake?), and playing an historical figure (Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, George W. Bush, Vincent Van Gogh, Queen Anne, Don Shirley, Tony Lip, Flip Zimmerman, Freddie Mercury…something like half of the total nominated roles) is even better. Definitely being in a geek-friendly movie is a hindrance to get Oscar acting noms. That certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them! I’ve loved the trend of prestige actors appear in GF movie…just, maybe, do more than that in a year. 😉

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog




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