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by Peter Knegt
October 16, 2012 10:25 AM
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For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actors That Deserve Oscar's Attention This Year

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, End of Watch
David Ayer's surprise critical and box office hit "End of Watch" offers some of the year's best chemistry in the work of Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as two Los Angeles cops who have to bend the rules to do their job. While that synopsis sounds far from original, both Gyllenhaal and Peña bring considerable emotional depth, humor and charm to types of characters that are often left as cardboard. Gyllenhaal as been nominated once before, but Peña has yet to be recognizied after steadily building a career as a character actor in films like "Million Dollar Baby," "Crash" (which, as we know, took out Gyllenhaal's "Brokeback Mountain" at the Oscars) and "World Trade Center."  "Watch" director Ayers wrote the script for "Training Day," which brought both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke Oscar nominations. It's a long shot, but hopefully it can do the same for these two.

Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Quvenzhané Wallis is very likely to nab a best actress nomination for her role as Hushpuppy in Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild," but the film was by no means a one-girl-show. Dwight Henry's performance as Hushpuppy's deteriorating father is a riveting -- and, at times, terrifying -- achievement that definitely deserves Oscar consideration. And Henry wasn't even looking for the job. He owned a New Orleans bakery across the street from Studio 13, where the film was being developed. He was encouraged to try out for the part, but the filmmakers couldn't find him to tell him he got it because he was busy opening a new bakery. He initially declined the role so he could focus on his business, but the filmmakers wanted him so bad they worked around his schedule. An Oscar nomination would clearly be a lovely end to that unique story, though an Independent Spirit nod is the much more likely outcome.

Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Films geared toward teenagers are pretty much Oscar poison, but Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his own novel, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," is not just for teenagers. It's a remarkably sincere film that could easily be appreciated by folks of any age, particularly due to the performances of Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller. Though the film's ensemble cast is exceptional across the board (particularly Emma Watson, proving she's not just Hermione), Miller steals every second of screen time he has as the hilarious, seemingly self-assured Patrick (a performance that starkly contrasts his equally admirable work as a psychotic teenager killer in last year's "We Need To Talk About Kevin"), while Lerman anchors the entire film with his heartfelt work as the Charlie, the eponymous wallflower. But even if neither end up receiving any awards heat for their work, "Perks" has at least made clear both actors have healthy careers ahead of them.


  • Sean | October 18, 2012 6:56 AMReply

    Why has nobody mentioned Denis Lavant? His multiple performances in 'Holy Motors' deserve to be remembered as a true masterpiece.

  • randall gerber | October 16, 2012 8:36 PMReply

    except for mr trintignant you can for get the rest for an oscar nomination.

  • Amy Scripps | October 16, 2012 8:01 PMReply

    What???? No Frank Langella from Robot & Frank? Major oversight. Way more magic than Magic Mike actors.

  • Greg | October 16, 2012 7:08 PMReply

    Wait until you see Matthias Schoenaerts in RUST AND BONE. An amazing, powerful, heartbreaking performance. The John Garfield of his generation.

  • Analee | October 16, 2012 3:16 PMReply

    You had me until you included the men of Magic Mike... that movie was terrible, and the performance were certainly not Oscar worthy.

  • rose | October 16, 2012 5:04 PM

    if was so terrible how come it is critcally acclaimed and has 80 percent on rotten tomatos by top critics?

  • Roger | October 16, 2012 3:00 PMReply

    I would have included Matthias Schoenaerts in your list for RUST AND BONE. He is in true revelation in that movie.

  • Ryan | October 16, 2012 2:43 PMReply

    Where is Robert Pattinson's name?

    He's a critical if not commercial underdog and his performance in Cosmopolis was astonishing.

  • Pat | October 16, 2012 2:39 PMReply

    And Christopher Plummer in 'Barrymore'!

  • Alex | October 16, 2012 1:49 PMReply

    Anders Danielsen Lie in Oslo, August 31st.

  • Mike | October 16, 2012 9:12 PM

    Amen for this. Definitely one of my fav male performances this year.
    How about Liam Neeson in The Grey?
    Didn't they send early screeners for Bernie? Sometimes early campaign for indie film works the charm. I wouldn't mind and be surprised if Jack Black got nominated.

  • Mitchell | October 16, 2012 12:12 PMReply

    "Spring Breakers" is actually getting a late 2012 release specifically to ensure that Franco's performance qualifies for awards consideration.

  • Katy | October 16, 2012 11:37 AMReply

    Over the course of the last 18 months while reviewing movies, I have found Channing Tatum to be a very decent actor. With each performance I like him more and more. Although I am not sure he should be nominated for his role in Magic Mike. I would have thought his performance in The Vow was far better. Oh well.
    I would also like to put it out there: Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths deserves some nominations for that part. Brilliant acting by that man! :-)

  • jess | October 16, 2012 11:33 AMReply

    really Channing Tatum? lol. What about Penn Badgley in 'Greetingf from Tim Buckley' his performance (acting/singing) as Jeff Buckley is getting rave reviews.

  • ray | October 16, 2012 12:48 PM

    I would laugh it off too But He was really good in Magic mike. No deny it.