This will be a slightly different post than my seven loyal readers are used to here at K.U. Nary a mention of misspelled tornadoes or unborn babies will crack the entirely serious list I’m going to lay on you here. Just thought I’d preface what follows with this disclamer.
As some of you may know, I’m kind of into the Oscars. I like movies, and the other movie awards out there are kind of crap, let’s face it. The Golden Globes? Garbage! People’s Choice? Worthless! MTV Movie Awards? Horrible! So while the Academy Awards are largely self-congratulatory nonsense, they are the best thing going, that gets aired on television anyway. I like hearing what the critics choose in their various groups in December, but until they start airing them on TV with pointless dance routines accompanying, they will not get the same attention from this guy.
So a few years ago, after pouring over some lists and plumbing the depths of my memory, I came up with a list of actors and actresses who had never won but I figured would win an Oscar in the next eight years. I thought this would make for an interesting study of the awards and how well they can be predicted, as I think I know a little bit about them. Well, over the course of the last two awards shows now, three of those folks have won, two just the other night. Kate Winslet, who I had at #1 on the original list, finally got hers, as did Heath Ledger (the list made well before he died), who was somewhat further down. The third, and the one I was most proud of at the time, was last year’s Best Supporting Actor, Javier Bardem, who your average person had never heard of before No Country For Old Men. He wasn’t high on my list, but he was there, and I felt good about myself.
So, for future purposes of feeling good about myself, and to document for good and all whether there is anything to this, I’m reordering and placing the revised list here for all to see and judge. The only stipulation to the list is that people on it have never won an acting Oscar. I’ve tried to include a number of people who have never been nominated either, just to add to the amazement if they actually do (it is your job to be amazed! Be ready!).
Just for laughs, at the bottom, see an abbreviated list of people I don’t see ever winning, or even being nominated, without being too ridiculous. I mean, Paris Hilton isn’t getting nominated for an Oscar, but I mean real actors, er, movie stars. If they do get nominated somehow down the road, we can all heap shame on this guy for calling it the other way.
So here we go, by the time I’m elected President in 2016, these are the people I’m giving the best odds to have Oscar statuettes on their desks, their mantles, or holding open their bathroom doors.
1) Will Smith – Now, I’m not saying he’s the most talented person in this group, or the most deserving, but he wants an Oscar really, really bad, and he’s the biggest star in the world. They want to give him an Oscar. He’s been nominated twice, both for decent performances, but the time wasn’t right. It doesn’t hurt that he can act, and has his choice of projects. I would say he’s as near to a sure thing as there is.
2) Keira Knightley – I hate Keira Knightley, and yet somehow she’s getting roles and has been nominated once already. She’s only 23. She likes period pieces. I’d say she’ll get an Oscar by the time she’s 30 for sure, God help us.
3) Paul Giamatti – It’s borderline outrageous he’s only been nominated once, and for Cinderella Man, which most people don’t remember he was in, never mind that he hasn’t won. Had John Adams been a big screen film, this wouldn’t be an issue, but nonetheless, this will no doubt be remedied sooner than later.
4) Johnny Depp – Despite his history of taking quirky roles and playing them in eccentric, bizarre ways, Depp also manages to score award nominations and critical acclaim, not just big paychecks. Sure, the nomination was the award for Pirates of the Caribbean, but the fact that he makes Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd show range away from the purely weird (okay, Sweeney is pretty odd). He’s a huge star. They like to give Oscars to stars. He’s popular. He can act.
5) Laura Linney – Everything said above about Giamatti for John Adams goes double for Linney. She’s been nominated three times without winning, and consistently turns in strong work with interesting characters.
6) Leonardo DiCaprio – Even though it seems he has trouble getting himself nominated for big films (The Departed, Titanic, etc.) he still gets in Oscar type films. He’s been nominated a couple times, and he’s not going away anytime soon. It’s inevitable.
7) Naomi Watts – She’s beautiful. She’s Australian. She’s great in heavy drama (nominated too!). She’s great acting against a CGI ape (Kong!). She gets the roles. She pulls it off. I think she gets an Oscar. As long as she doesn’t make more CGI ape movies.
8. Edward Norton – Despite not being nominated in the past ten years, Norton is still considered one of the best actors working today. If he’d just stop making silly action/suspense movies and get back to drama, he’d have an Oscar in no time.
9) Julianne Moore – Now that Winslet’s off the board, you’ve got to wonder when Moore will get her Oscar. She’s been nominated four times, and looked like a sure thing a few years back. Her turn out of quality films has let up a bit, but the talent is there, and you’d think the next time she’s in the mix, she’s got it.
10) Ed Harris – Should’ve won already. Four nominations. Works a lot. Makes his own films, too. Someday it’ll be his day.
11) Amy Adams – She looked like a one hit wonder when nominated for little indie no one saw Junebug a few years back, but she’s turned herself into a bona fide movie star, and got herself nominated again this year for Doubt. She’s good in comedy and drama, and if her star continues to rise, I don’t see why she wouldn’t win.
12) Jeff Bridges – The Dude can do pretty much anything. He’s been in the mix a couple times, playing everything from an alien (Starman) to the President (The Contender). Sooner or later, that perfect Oscar role will come along. Maybe, God willing, The Big Lebowski 2: The Dude Abides.
13) Natalie Portman – Star Wars maybe has overshadowed her acting career a bit, but she’s still popular (Hayden Christensen, anyone?) and she’s been nominated once already. She’s clearly got the talent, and she’s still young.
14) Robert Downey Jr. – A few years ago I would’ve thought it unimaginable that Downey could be in this discussion, but now he’s A list with all the talent and cred in the world. Had he kept it together in 90s he’d have an Oscar or two already. Now it’s time to play catch up.
15) Samantha Morton – Serious dramatic actress, but she can also play for laughs, even if she does it less frequently. She might need to make slightly bigger Hollywood type movies to get to the top prize, but either way the sheer force of her ability could carry her there.
16) Brad Pitt – Come on, is there any real question now that Pitt will win an Oscar? I know, he’s more or less Brad Pitt in everything, but you can see the guy’s got the chops for it. Nominated twice over the last two decades, huge movie star, choice of parts.
17) Emily Blunt – You ever see someone in a film, even in a limited role, and think that this person just arrived? That they are going to be a star and a major player in the years to come? That’s Emily Blunt. She’s never been nominated, and has only appeared in a handful of films, but mark my words, they’ll be calling her name out before long.
18) Mark Ruffalo – Also in the never nominated group, but somewhat more known, is Ruffalo, who is just yet to get the right role. He’s been strong in a number of prestige films (Zodiac, Reservation Road, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but has yet to get the recognition. It’s coming.
19) Matt Damon – Before he was a full on action star, Damon was turning in great dramatic performances without kicking asses, in Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr. Ripley. He still mixes and matches his genres, and pops up in period dramas as well as comedies and adventures. He’s a huge star. Oscars go to huge stars often.
20) Michelle Williams – If you told me ten years ago that one girl from Dawson’s Creek would marry the biggest movie star in the world and the other would be on my shortlist to someday win an Oscar, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which is which, or explain how pigs could now all of a sudden fly. But that’s what I think. Williams was nominated for Brokeback Mountain. She pops up in all manner of character and leading roles.
21) Anne Hathaway – I never, ever would have thought Hathaway could do what she did in Rachel Getting Married. If she comes back to these type of heavy drama roles in the future, there’s no reason she shouldn’t win many awards.
22) John C. Reilly – A tremendous character actor who does comedy as well if not better than drama. As long as he doesn’t get too lost doing laughers, he’ll always have a shot at an Oscar. Unfortunately, Walk Hard was overlooked by the Academy. I love Dewey Cox.
23) Maggie Gyllenhaal – Never nominated, but incredibly talented, Gyllenhaal appears in the smallest of indies to the second highest grossing movie ever made. She got range and seems to choose roles (for the most part) wisely.
24) Ryan Gosling – Didn’t think much of Gosling initially (who could, watching The Notebook) but man, what this guy did in Half Nelson was nothing short of amazing. Should be a real presence at awards shows for years to come.
25) Tom Wilkinson – Remember everything I said about Giamatti and Linney in John Adams? Best throw Wilkinson in there too. This guy can do seemingly anything, playing heavies to playing politicians to playing lunatics, or all at once. Nominated twice, works constantly.
26) Joan Allen – Multiple nominee, but did recently appear in Death Race, so it’s hard to figure out what she’s thinking. Talent, yes, decision making, questionable.
27) Jude Law – Most just see him as sort of a pretty boy British douche, yet he’s got two acting nods, and pops up in tons of films. The possibility is better than average.
28) Liam Neeson – How about Neeson has only been nominated once! For Schindler’s List, and that was it! If Spielberg’s Abe Lincoln film ever gets off the ground, Neeson could be looking at a return to the big show. If not then, sometime in the future this guy should get his due.
29) Emily Watson – Maybe she makes too many indie, British films, which might hold her back, but the talent is there. Breaking the Waves, Hilary and Jackie, The Water Horse. Okay, maybe not The Water Horse.
30) Ralph Fiennes – Should have won for the greatest Nazi portrayal ever in Schindler, but has only picked up one nod since, and that was some thirteen years ago. Too many Potter films maybe? But really, it’s a shame he doesn’t get more Academy recognition.
31) Bryce Dallas Howard – Still on her way up, never nominated, makes a lot of big budget films, but showed real ability in HBO’s As You Like It. Ron’s her father. Oscars in the bloodstream.
32) Cameron Diaz – The only reason for her inclusion, besides being a big star – Being John Malkovich. Remember her in Malkovich? Why doesn’t she ever stretch like that? Stop with the romantic comedies and the dancing around in your underwear! Win awards!
33) Viggo Mortensen – The former King of Men was nominated once for a movie virtually no one saw, but it proved he can do something post-Middle Earth. He gets top flight acting heavy parts. He’s intense.
34) Toni Collette – She’s Australian, plays a wide variety of roles, was nominated once, pops up in parts of random size, and is now doing television. Everything but the last one above points toward strong Oscar potential down the road.
35) Tom Cruise – It sure looks less likely these days than it did even five years ago, but you can’t completely rule it out. Should’ve won for Magnolia. Made Born on the Fourth of July a little too early in his career, or he’d have won for that. He’s still a huge star, even if he’s a complete nutcase.
36) Bill Murray – It sure looked like he was making a concentrated effort at winning an Oscar a few years back. Was snubbed for Rushmore and Hamlet. Nominated but lost for Lost in Translation. Everyone ignored Broken Flowers. Seems to have slowed since, but if the desire is still there, I’d bet he can get over the hump.
37) Don Cheadle – Great in everything, finally snagged a nom a few years back for Hotel Rwanda, maybe blends into ensemble films too much to stand out and get awarded. But makes for an engaging lead, and gets roles. Had HBO’s The Rat Pack been a theater film, he’d have won already.
38) Annette Bening – Sure looked like she’d crawl through Hell for an Oscar in years past, hasn’t been too relevant of late. Perhaps she’s waiting for the opportunity to get beat out by Hilary Swank again. It’s her M.O.
40) William H. Macy – Has a similar affliction as Cheadle – disappears into roles in big cast films. Aids the overall tremendously, but doesn’t stand out, rarely plays leads. Nonetheless, he’s a tremendous actor, great in comedy and drama.
41) John Malkovich – Hasn’t been nominated in fifteen years! Why? Was completely robbed for Being John Malkovich, where he came so close to garnering the big prize for playing himself, something I doubt anyone will ever do. What sense is there in a world where Malkovich hasn’t won an Oscar yet? Come on!
42) Glenn Close – Okay, maybe she’s a television actress now for all intents and purposes, but Close was a five time nominee in a span of seven years in the 80s. Hasn’t been given a nod since. What happened? Where have you gone, Glenn Close? Come back to a theater near us!
Now, you may be tempted to say, “Sure, if you list enough people, you’re bound to hit a couple over the next eight years.” That’s true. But look at how many people win multiple times, or come out of complete obscurity to eat up nominations. Be more impressed! Or don’t!
And now, people who will never get nominated, and never win, according to this guy.
Jada Pinkett Smith – Does she even act anymore? Nonetheless, the Brad/Angelina style double nominations won’t be happening for the Smith family anytime in the near future.
Drew Barrymore – Does anything sound more outrageous than “Academy Award nominee Drew Barrymore?” What possible role is Drew going to stretch into to get her near an Oscar? I can’t even fathom.
Hugh Jackman – Hosting the Oscars is essentially the kiss of death as far as ever contending for one is concerned. This fact, coupled with his terrible film choices (Wolverine notwithstanding), trump all the talent the man has, which seems considerable.
Jim Carrey – I add him because I think if he was going to get nominated it would have happened already. Clearly the Academy cannot get the visions of Carrey talking out of his butt out of their heads. Should have been nominated for The Truman Show and Man on the Moon. I don’t think he’ll bother with these kind of roles again, so I think his Oscar chances are gone.
Ben Affleck – Really, is there any debate about this? Sure, he’s been okay in things from time to time, but not often enough, and his focus thankfully seems to have turned to directing.
Beyonce – Hey, Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar, against all logic, and Queen Latifah and Marky Mark have been nominated, so I think it’s fair to include Beyonce, who seems to consider herself an actress, even if no one else is buying. It will never, never, never happen.
Ryan Phillippe – Phillippe’s actually been in a Best Picture winner (Crash) and another film nominated for the big prize (Gosford Park), but he wasn’t acknowledged unsurprisingly, and I can’t imagine he ever will be. Lots of wooden, monotone work getting done here.
And here are some people who have been nominated, and some who’ve won, who will never repeat their astounding feats: Kate Hudson, Rosie Perez, Roberto Benigni, Jennifer Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Kevin Costner, the way things are going – Joaquin Phoenix, Geena Davis, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kim Basinger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jennifer Tilly, and Melanie Griffith.