Going back to the beginning of the new century, I am going to look at the justice of the winners in the acting categories over the next few days. Oscar and I do not always agree, though I concede sometimes they get it right.
Here is a study of the Best Actor winners and who should have won.
Russell Crowe, ‘Gladiator’ (2000)
One of those silly make up awards, as they did not give it to Crowe the year before for The Insider (1999), his finest performance. Crowe was good, not great whereas Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’ was the year’s best performance, a piece of acting for the ages.
Denzel Washington, ‘Training Day’ (2001)
As the corrupt cop, Washington was hypnotic, a great performance. But Gene Hackman, not even nominated gave the years best performance in The Royal Tanenbaums as the rascally patriarch of a family of over achievers. Washington was the best of the nominees, one of those bizarre years when the best was snubbed.
Adrien Brody, ‘The Pianist’ (2002)
Sean Penn, ‘Mystic River’ (2003)
No argument, the year’s best work.
Jamie Foxx, ‘Ray’ (2004)
Less a performance than a strong impersonation, no one will ever convince me Foxx gave a better performance than Paul Giamatti in ‘Sideways’, the finest comedy of the new century. Giamatti was simply brilliant as the lonely, caustic wine lover looking for love and meaning.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘Capote’ (2005)
Hoffman is terrific as Truman Capote, the fey, viciously brilliant New York writer as famous, or infamous as the people he wrote about. Heath Ledger was heartbreaking in Brokeback Mountain, struggling with his love for a man that he dare not show. The Oscar should have been his.
Forest Whitaker,‘The Last King of Scotland’ (2006)
A towering achievement from Whitaker portraying Idi Amin at the height of his power and madness. No argument here. One of the great screen performances.
Daniel Day-Lewis, ‘There Will be Blood’ (2007)
Perhaps the greatest performance given by an actor in a leading role, Day Lewis is magnificent as the hate filled oil man who loathes humanity. The Oscar was his when the film screened for the first time.
9. Sean Penn, ‘Milk’ (2008)
An astounding accomplishment for the actor, capturing the joy, the happiness, the hope of Harvey Milk with breathtaking wonder. No argument here.
Jeff Bridges, ‘Crazy Heart’ (2009)
A late comer to the year end race, the film was rolled out seeking an Oscar for Bridges, and he got it, though more for Lifetime Achievement than the performance. The best performance of the year came from Viggo Mortenson in The Road, who was not even nominated.
Colin Firth, ‘The King’s Speech’ (2010)
A well liked actor wins, though the award should have gone to Jeff Bidges in True Grit. But no chance they are doing that after awarding Bridges won the year before. Firth was outstanding in the film, but Bridges did career best work.
Jean Dujardin, ‘The Artist’ (2011)
For his broad, smiling and sensitive performance as a silent screen star during the era of talkies, DuJardin won an Oscar without saying a word as the movie was silent. George Clooney gave by far the years best performance as the tortured husband in ‘The Descendants’. How he lost? Don’t know.
Daniel Day-Lewis, ‘Lincoln’ (2012)
Brilliant, no argument though I suspect Joaquin Phoenix gave him a run in ‘The Master’.
Matthew McConaughey, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2013)
never bought into the McConaughey love fest that took him to an Oscar for his performance as an AIDS activist. The performance the is remembered today, and will be for decades is Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, who should have won, and everybody knows it.
Eddie Redmayne, ‘The Theory of Everything’ (2014)
Terrific as the great Stephen Hawking, Redmayne shows what is must be to have such a mind trapped in a body failing him. A great performance no question, but I believe Michael Keaton went a step further to greatness as the one time movie star looking credibility on the stage in Birdman.
Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘The Revenant’ (2015)
He finally won for this searing, superb performance in this magnificent film about survival, revenge and grit. No one was even close.