Saturday, February 25, 2012

All-Time Top 10: Actors Without Oscars

I've been having significantly more fun making lists about the Oscars than I'll probably have watching them.  With the awards ceremony just a day away,  we're coming up on the inevitable end of the list blitz.  Just as with the actress list, this one is in no particular order.  

1. Peter O'Toole
Number of Nominations: 8
Stand-Out Roles: Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter, Venus, Becket, The Ruling Class
What is the What: O'Toole is the real deal, a charmingly awkward gentleman veering between delicate and psychotic. All this is potentially more impressive if you consider he was probably completely drunk delivering most of his performances.

2. Peter Sellers
Number of Nominations: 3
Stand-Out Roles: Being There, Dr. Strangelove, The Mouse That Roared, The Party
What is the What: When he barely tried, he was nearly a master of physical comedy.  At his most inspired, however, he was a frenzied sort of genius with a million quick-change characters ready to be dropped in an instant.   

3. Cary Grant
Number of Nominations: 2
Stand-Out Roles: North by Northwest, His Girl Friday, Charade, Bringing Up Baby, T
he Philadelphia Story
What is the What: Beloved as a human being but never honored as an actor, Cary Grant defines what it means to be a leading man.  His knack for screwball comedy and the casually debonair is a skill set discounted too often.

4. Johnny Depp
Number of Nominations: 3
Stand-Out Roles: Ed Wood, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sweeney Todd, Finding Neverland
What is the What: A brilliant character actor who, it seems, can divorce is on-screen personas 100% from his "real life" character.  If he'd step a little ways out of the spotlight and keep away from big budget projects like The Tourist, he'll win yet. 

5. Leonardo DiCaprio
Number of Nominations: 3
Stand-Out Roles: The Aviator, Revolutionary Road, The Departed, 
Shutter Island, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
What is the What: While some (ahem, I'm looking at you Kat) still believe Leo should have gotten recognition for dying with shaky grace in the icy waters near the Titanic, it's hard to deny that he's become a stronger and stronger actor as the years have passed. The Aviator was a stand-out moment, and watching Leo's psyche crumble, watching him develop the tics of the suffering Howard Hughes, was nothing short of remarkable. 

6. Paul Giamatti
Number of Nominations: 1
Stand-Out Roles: Sideways, Win Win, American Splendor, John Adams, Barney's Version
What is the What: Giamatti is an actor's actor, a guy who does wonders operating in a spectrum of grays without pushing to one extreme or the other.

7. Robert Downey Jr.
Number of Nominations: 2
Stand-Out Roles: Chaplin, Tropic Thunder, Sherlock Holmes, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 
What is the What: RDJ elevates mediocre blockbusters and makes them about the characters, he can banter with the best of them.

8. Brad Pitt
Number of Nominations: 3
Stand-Out Roles: Twelve Monkeys, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club, Tree of Life, 
Inglourious Basterds, Burn After Reading
What is the What: How long have we been hearing a running commentary on Brad Pitt as a "pretty boy" instead of a "real actor"?  Twelve Monkeys and Kalifornia seemed to prove early on that Pitt could act himself out of a box, if need be, but also that he was willing to take on the wide variety of projects necessary for an interesting, noteworthy career.   

9. Richard Burton
Number of Nominations: 7
Stand-Out Roles: Becket, Equus, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Night of the Igauana
What is the What: He dominates the drama and casts one hell of an intimidating, grim shadow. 

10. James Mason
Number of Nominations: 3
Stand-Out Roles: Lolita, Bigger than Life, A Star is Born, Georgy Girl
What is the What: Mason seemed best suited to a sort of melodramatic role as corrupted father figure, or, maybe that's just how we know him best.  He was a versatile actor, strangely sympathetic even as he adopted the guise of tyrannical villain,   

Honorable Mentions: 
Bill Murray, Alan Rickman, Orson Welles, 
Edward Norton, Fred Astaire, Gary Oldman


  1. While I feel(know) you were just throwing me a bone, I will take your mention of Titanic somewhere in a blog post as a huge step forward!

    Leo has grown as an actor since Titanic, but I will always credit Titanic as the jump-start to his awesome career.

    Come April 4th when I force you to see the wonderous re-release of Titanic in 3-D IMAX, you will fully understand the magnitude of my Titanic love, and I expect a glowing review on this very blog.

    Or we won't be friends any longer.

  2. Excuse me? Depp, Pitt, DiCaprio over Gary Oldman?

  3. Paul Giamatti has no right to be on the list. I also agree with dude before Oldman???

  4. Make it 12 and add Steve McQueen and Oldman to the list.


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