21 Feb 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Monday Minute
No. 216 | February 21, 2011

Oscar Perspective

cary grant_1greta garbo_1alfred hitchcock_1

Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock:  not a happy bunch.

Well, you might be feeling rather glum yourself if you were (arguably) the greatest male star, female star, or director in Hollywood and had another Oscar week to look forward to.  Despite ten nominations between them, this famously brilliant trio of moviemakers never won an Academy Award.  And though it’s too late for them now, at least they don’t have to sit through any more ceremonies to watch lesser talents walk off with honors that were rightfully theirs.

Each year when it came time to hand out the hardware, the Academy presented its statuettes to somebody else.  Eventually, Grant, Garbo, and Hitchcock each got an Honorary Oscar—the Academy’s way of saying, “Boy, did we screw up!”—but the oversights remain a part of Hollywood history.  (“Snubs” seem now to have become an annual tradition.)

As I see it, what it all means is, Let’s put the awards into perspective.  Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture:  the honors have the ring of authority, but any glance in the rear-view mirror should remind us that the the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor the Oscar to the most deserving.

The list of those who never got to give an acceptance speech is, well, endless, but among the names are many of the greatest talents and greatest stars of all time.  Some earned nominations in multiple years; others, inexplicably, never a single nod.  But for those we’ll take a look at this week, all have done, at one time or another, award-caliber work.  Maybe if the stars had been aligned—or, if the Academy had paid proper attention—they would’ve been Oscar winners.

Here’s the plan for the week ahead.  We’ll start with a look back at the actors, actresses, and directors who never once had to lug home that eight-and-a-half-pound, gold-plated little man.  I’ll have a list of 40 each day (and focus on just those with Hollywood careers, to keep it somewhat manageable).  On Thursday, we’ll look at some great movies that were ignored, or famously snubbed.  By then you should have a firm idea that these things called the Academy Awards don’t really matter much at all.  Nevertheless, on Friday I’ll post my picks (who should win) and predictions (who will win) for the big show this coming weekend.

Our theme this week
Films and filmmakers overlooked by Oscar

Actors Who Never Won an Oscar

peter o'toole_1richard burton_1albert finney_1

Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Albert Finney:  good hair, 20 nominations, still an empty space on the mantel.

It will be a week of lists, and this is the first:  40 actors, great performers, and not a single competitive Academy Award for acting.  (A reminder:  the focus this week is on those with careers primarily in Hollywood or English-language films;  Marcello Mastroianni, Toshirō Mifune, and too many others to mention never won an Oscar either.)

Fred Astaire
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  The Band Wagon (1953)
Honorary Oscar:  1949

John Barrymore
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  Dinner at Eight (1933)

Warren Beatty
Acting nominations:  4
Award-caliber performance:  Bugsy (1991)
Best Director (Reds, 1981); Irving G. Thalberg Award:  1999

Charles Boyer
Acting nominations:  4
Award-caliber performance:  The Earrings of Madame de… (1953)


Richard Burton
Acting nominations:  7
Award-caliber performance:  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Charlie Chaplin
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  The Great Dictator (1940)
Best Score (Limelight, 1952, awarded in 1973); Honorary Award:  1929, 1971

Lee J. Cobb
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  12 Angry Men (1957)


Tom Cruise
Acting nominations:  3
Award-caliber performance:  Born on the Fourth of July (1989)


Montgomery Clift
Acting nominations:  4
Award-caliber performance:  A Place in the Sun (1951)


Joseph Cotten
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  Shadow of a Doubt (1943)


Tony Curtis
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  The Defiant Ones (1958)


James Dean
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  East of Eden (1955)


Johnny Depp
Acting nominations:  3
Award-caliber performance:  Finding Neverland (2004)


Kirk Douglas
Acting nominations:  3
Award-caliber performance:  Ace in the Hole (1951)
Honorary Oscar:  1995

Clint Eastwood
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Best Director/Best Picture (Unforgiven, 1992; Million Dollar Baby, 2004); Irving G. Thalberg Award:  1994

Ralph Fiennes
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  Schindler’s List (1993)


Albert Finney
Acting nominations:  5
Award-caliber performance:  Tom Jones (1963)


Harrison Ford
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  Witness (1985)


Richard Gere
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  The Hoax (2007)


Cary Grant
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  Penny Serenade (1941)

Honorary Oscar:  1969

Rock Hudson
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  Giant (1956)


Gene Kelly
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  An American in Paris (1951)
Honorary Oscar:  1951

Arthur Kennedy
Acting nominations:  5
Award-caliber performance:  Champion (1949)


Peter Lorre
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  The Maltese Falcon (1941)


James Mason
Acting nominations:  3
Award-caliber performance:  A Star Is Born (1954)


Joel McCrea
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  Sullivan’s Travels (1941)


Robert Mitchum
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  The Night of the Hunter (1955)


Peter O’Toole
Acting nominations:  8
Award-caliber performance:  Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Honorary Oscar:  2002

Brad Pitt
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

William Powell
Acting nominations:  3
Award-caliber performance:  My Man Godfrey (1936)

 
Tyrone Power
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  The Razor’s Edge (1946)

Claude Rains
Acting nominations:  4
Award-caliber performance:  Notorious (1946)

Robert Redford
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  The Candidate (1972)
Best Director (Ordinary People, 1980); Honorary Oscar:  2001


Edward G. Robinson
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  Scarlet Street (1945)
Honorary Oscar:  1972

Mickey Rooney
Acting nominations:  4
Award-caliber performance:  Baby Face Nelson (1957)
Juvenile Oscar:  1938; Honorary Oscar:  1982

Peter Sellers
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Will Smith
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  Ali (2001)


John Travolta
Acting nominations:  2
Award-caliber performance:  Saturday Night Fever (1977)


Eli Wallach
Acting nominations:  0
Award-caliber performance:  Baby Doll (1956)
Honorary Oscar:  2010

Orson Welles
Acting nominations:  1
Award-caliber performance:  Citizen Kane (1941)
Screenplay Oscar (Citizen Kane, 1941); Honorary Oscar:  1970


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Mike Nichols, director
Edward Albee (play), Ernest Lehman (screenplay), writers
Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

 

Burton was nominated for Best Actor.  Paul Scofield, for A Man for All Seasons, won the Oscar.


Quote of note
“And that’s how you play ‘Get the Guests.'”
—George (Richard Burton), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 21 Feb 2011 @ 01:33 AM

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