Among the five Best Actor nominees at this Sunday’s Academy Awards, there’s one person who should have been sitting in the Kodak Theater long ago. At long last, Gary Oldman, one of the actors whose lack of awards recognition has long been lamented, gets to book a tuxedo and a limo, and call himself an Oscar nominee, thanks to his superb, understated performance as George Smiley in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
So now that Oldman has got his long-awaited nomination, who’s next on the hitlist? As part of our coverage in countdown to the Oscars, we’ve picked out five actors (along with a slew of honorable mentions) who have also somehow gone their careers without ever picking up Oscar nominations, despite turning in a number of acclaimed performances. Could any of them follow Oldman to glory? We’ll have to see in the next few years. And once you’re done here, take a look at our list of the actress who are also overdue for Oscar recognition.
Nomination-Worthy Roles: Ed Exley in “L.A. Confidential“; Leonard Shelby in “Memento“; Charlie Burns in “The Proposition“
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? His great roles were never exactly Oscar material, bar “L.A. Confidential,” but that film had showier, less subtle performances to honor. His early 00s sojourn as a leading man (“The Time Machine,” “Count Of Monte Cristo“) probably derailed things a little too.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Pretty strong, actually. “Animal Kingdom” and “The King’s Speech” put him on the comeback trail, which was topped off with an Emmy win for Todd Haynes‘ “Mildred Pierce.” And he’s got several high profiles on the way in the coming year, with a cameo in “Prometheus,” the lead in Drake Doremus‘ next film and what we hear is the stand-out performance in “The Wettest County.” Unless “Lockout” puts him on the action movie route, this could happen soon.
Nomination-Worthy Roles: Pino In “Do The Right Thing“; Bernie Bernbaum in “Miller’s Crossing“; Barton Fink in “Barton Fink“; Herbie Stempel in “Quiz Show“; Jesus Quintana in “The Big Lebowski“
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? Hard to say. He won Best Actor at Cannes for “Barton Fink,” and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes for “Quiz Show,” but when the Oscars came, co-stars Michael Lerner and Paul Scofield were nominated instead. We suppose his golden era with the Coens pre-dates their awards circuit breakout with “Fargo,” and “Do The Right Thing” was mostly ignored by the Oscars, but it could also be he’s too much of a chameleon to really register.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Middling. The bulk of his work in the last decade has been paycheck stuff in Adam Sandler movies and “Transformers,” jobs that pay for his directing work. But should he reunite with the Coens or Spike Lee again for a substantial part, he could end up back in the spotlight.
Nomination-Worthy Roles: Tom Baxter/Gil Shepherd in “The Purple Rose Of Cairo“; Charles Driggs in “Something Wild“; Bill Johnson in “Pleasantville“; Bernard Berkman in “The Squid And The Whale”
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? Daniels has long been terminally underrated, thanks to the mostly comedic nature of his early roles, but the Golden Globes have long been on board, nominating Daniels three times over the years. His career-best so far, in Noah Baumbach‘s “The Squid and the Whale,” was presumably too unlikable for the Academy, but it his turn there has led him to take on darker, more serious roles.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Nothing has quite landed in the same way as the Baumbach film and we’re not sure his next big screen outing, as a heavy in Rian Johnson‘s “Looper,” will be that part. But look for Emmys in the future — he’s leading Aaron Sorkin‘s HBO series “The Newsroom,” and should gold follow that, he may get better movie roles down the road.
Nomination-Worthy Roles: Mr. Pink in “Reservoir Dogs“; Nick Reve in “Living In Oblivion“; Carl Showalter in “Fargo“; Tommy in “Trees Lounge“; Donny in “The Big Lebowski“; Seymour in “Ghost World“; Pierre Peders in “Interview“
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? The Peter Lorre of the Miramax era, Buscemi has rarely had the kind of showcase that brings in Oscar nominations. His parts in Tarantino and Coen Brothers films were probably too dark and quirky, and “Living in Oblivion” wasn’t watched by many. Some of his finest performances have been under his own direction, but even fewer people saw “Trees Lounge” and “Interview.” His turn in “Ghost World” was perhaps his most likely contender, and indeed, won a Golden Globe nomination, as well as several critics awards. But ultimately, he lost out to, um, unforgettable performances like Ethan Hawke in “Training Day” and Jon Voight in “Ali.”
Chance Of A Future Nomination: Like Daniels, he’s found a great showcase on TV with “Boardwalk Empire,” and has won SAG and Golden Globe Awards, as well as Emmy nods, for his trouble. But if he decides to direct himself again (he’s prepping “Queer,” which he may not appear in), that could give a good showcase.
Nomination-Worthy Roles: Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H“; Sgt. Oddball in “Kelly’s Heroes“; John Klute in “Klute“; John Baxter in “Don’t Look Now“; Calvin Jarrett in “Ordinary People“; X in “JFK“; Flan in “Six Degrees Of Separation“; Mr. Bennett in “Pride & Prejudice“
Why Has He Never Been Nominated? Lord knows. Sutherland was always an offbeat kind of leading man back in the day, but that never stopped Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino from winning Oscars. And it’s not like he hasn’t appeared in Oscar-y films: “M*A*S*H” got five nominations, Jane Fonda won Best Actress for “Klute,” Stockard Channing was nommed for “Six Degrees of Separation,” and “Ordinary People” won four, with another two acting nominations on top. That’s even without mentioning arguably his greatest turn, in “Don’t Look Now.” He’s admittedly had less meaty roles, playing generals and villains and mentors of late, but there’s been good material too: the final scene of “Pride & Prejudice” is a screen-acting masterclass, and the highlight of the film.
Chances Of A Future Nomination: Probably a longshot. He’s worked in TV more often than in film of late, and only recently signed on to a Fox sitcom, which could take up his time for years, if it’s a hit. But all he needs is a part like the one that Christopher Plummer had in “Beginners” to bring the spotlight back on him.
Also Overdue For A Nomination: The person we argued over the most was probably Jeff Goldblum. While he’s an actor many of us have a soft spot for, he’s never really been given too many meaty roles worthy of Oscar nominations though you have to see his lead turn in Paul Schrader’s little-seen, kinda batshit crazy “Adam Resurrected” from 2008. It has a 34% RT rating, but mark our words, this film about a former circus entertainer who was spared from the gas chamber in post WWII and then becomes the ringleader at an asylum for Holocaust survivors is going to become a cult film one day. Other actors long overdue and or hopefully still getting strong enough roles to merit a nomination include Martin Sheen, Malcolm McDowell, Jim Carrey, John Goodman, Steve Martin, John Cusack, Richard Gere, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Gary Cole and J.K. Simmons.
Probably Too Young To Be Called Overdue, But Still Deserving: Sam Rockwell, Peter Sarsgaard and Anthony Mackie. All three of these guys’ names are likely going to be called up one day.