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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

We said it: Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum deserve Oscar nominations for "Magic Mike."

Last week, this column took the first in a two-part break from Oscar-related dish to profile 10 deserving underdog actresses from this year's batch of films.

The group included some who have definite shots like Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") to more than a few that sadly have pretty much no Oscar chance whatsoever, like Melanie Lynskey ("Hello I Must Be Going") and Ann Dowd ("Compliance"). This second part works in a similar vein, except this time it takes a look at the boys' club.

There's definitely a few good men locked into both male acting categories this year, including powerhouses like Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington and Joaquin Phoenix in the lead category, and Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in supporting (check out an updated weekly prediction charts here). But there's still a little bit of wiggle room, perhaps the same sort that brought performances from tiny films like "Winter's Bone" (John Hawkes, who is looking strong for a nom this year for "The Sessions") and "The Messenger" (Woody Harrelson) into the mix. So perhaps one or two of the following will indeed end up in the running.

Commenters should once again keep in mind that the list purposely does not include work that looks like a good bet for a nomination (such as the aforementioned Hawkes) and that it only includes films currently scheduled for release during the 2012 eligibility period (leaving out James Franco's work . With that said, here are 10 underdog actors for your consideration.

Millennium Entertainment "Bernie"
Jack Black, Bernie
Comedy rarely fares well with the Academy (though they made a major exception to that rule with Melissa McCarthy, who just so happened to be one of our "underdogs" a year ago), but if there's one comedic performance to consider this year, it's arguably Jack Black's subtle, beautifully weird work in Richard Linklater's "Bernie." Black plays the titular character, an assistant mortician who becomes the only friend of the wealthy, recently widowed woman (played Shirley MacLaine, who also deserves some consideration in the supporting actress category) and then, well, murders her. Loosely based on a true story, the film became a sleeper hit this summer and Millennium is deservedly putting up a campaign for Black. In the end, though, it's likely Black's best bet its a Golden Globe nomination in the musical/comedy category, where he landed once before for another Linklater film, "The School of Rock."

Richard Gere, Arbitrage
Richard Gere has never managed an Oscar nom, despite a few arguable close calls ("Chicago," "An Officer and a Gentleman"). And while an extremely competitve lead actor category makes that unlikely to change this time around, Gere has never been better than he is in Nicholas Jarecki's "Arbitrage." A surprise box office hit this past month, the timely film gives Gere a role made for him in Robert Miller, a venture capitalist nicknamed “The Oracle” who gets into some serious trouble. Despite the Madoffian qualities of the character, Gere pulls off making audiences somehow root for Miller even though he clearly deserves what's coming. It might not be Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln, but it's an admirable feat and a standout performance from a veteran actor who has been steadily working for nearly 40 years.


  • 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.