It's Oscars week, so Hollywood's biggest night is on everyone's mind: which movies have been nominated, who will win, what everyone will wear and what they'll say.
However, the truth is that there are quite a few actors in Hollywood who have given Oscar-worthy performances throughout their careers and have no statues (or nominations) to show for it. I mean, look at how long it took Leonardo DiCaprio to finally get the recognition he deserved!
Now that Leo has his Best Actor statue, in my opinion it's time to recognize one more actor who is especially underrated...and his name is Jake Gyllenhaal.
Gyllenhaal has been active in Hollywood since childhood and has given solid performances throughout his career; he's incredibly versatile and chooses roles that you might not think he'd be suited for (which is typically what's rewarded during awards season). However, even with the intense and brave performances that he's delivered, he has yet to win an Oscar or a Golden Globe.
Let's focus on six of his performances that would have easily merited at least an Oscar nomination, if not a win. Obviously you can't give Oscars to everyone whenever they give a great performance, but it's becoming quite difficult to look past how often Gyllenhaal has been passed over throughout the years.
6. Love And Other Drugs (2010)
While Love and Other Drugs was marketed as basically just another romantic comedy, you quickly find out that the story unfolds into a rather deep journey for both Gyllenhaal and his co-star, Anne Hathaway. I remember going in thinking I would be watching a comedy, and I wound up needing a box of Kleenex because it was so emotional.
The way Gyllenhaal was able to show the audience how his character had matured and how he was basically choosing the more difficult road over a potentially easy one definitely tugged at your emotions. This was one of the many examples of the way Gyllenhaal can tap into feelings you might not expect. The performance did bring him his first Golden Globe nomination, but he didn't win.
5. End Of Watch (2012)
It still surprises me how End of Watch seemed to fly under the radar, but the mysteries of the film universe are infinite. The #DavidAyer indie drama featured Gyllenhaal alongside Michael Peña as a former U.S. Marine serving in the Los Angeles Police Department.
The movie showed the perspective of police officers in a way that not many films have accomplished, especially the sense of brotherhood that bonds officers (and soldiers) together. Gyllenhaal's performance was moving, emotional and intense. If you don't believe me, watch the movie and try to make it through the final scene without crying.
4. Jarhead (2005)
Jarhead is another movie that seemed to fly under the radar, despite being released in the post-9/11 wave of war films. This true story of a former Marine, Anthony Swofford, featured Gyllenhaal in the lead role as it recounts Swofford's deployment under operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm during the Gulf War.
The performance of Swofford's journey to and from war is extremely captivating, and we have Gyllenhaal to thank for that. The way he portrayed how a Marine's temperament and psyche change during such an event is one of those performances you can't really turn away from. Not to mention the way he collaborated with his scout sniper partner (and real life brother-in-law), Peter Sarsgaard, was definitely an incredible pairing on screen.
3. Donnie Darko (2001)
Donnie Darko is perhaps the most culturally recognizable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, and it definitely was a catalyst for his surge in Hollywood. However, this is not a performance to overlook simply because it is popular. The portrayal of an intelligent but mentally disturbed teenager resonated with audiences for a reason.
Gyllenhaal's performance as Donnie strikes a nerve on a few fronts, as it's another role that is emotional, complex and psychologically intense. The way that he delivered a lot of the dialogue — and how he flips his moods between visions — is not something every actor can pull off. It's important to remember that #DonnieDarko was just a starting point for Gyllenhaal, but it doesn't make the performance any less worthy of the recognition it deserves.
2. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Brokeback Mountain was not only a groundbreaking film in general, but it was important for the actors involved. While both Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger managed to get Oscar nominations for their performances as two closeted gay cowboys, neither took home the prize.
The bottom line is, this movie was an important turning point in Gyllenhaal's career. Brokeback Mountain was just his ninth time in a leading role and came shortly after he became a rising star. Gyllenhaal was almost Spider-Man in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2, but chose to do this film. At a time when gay rights were far less accepted than they are today, this took tremendous bravery. The end result was overwhelmingly emotional, courageous and heartbreaking, which seem to be Gyllenhaal's signature traits.
1. Nightcrawler (2014)
Remember when Jake Gyllenhaal got a bunch of well-deserved awards for his role as an amoral news cameraman in Nightcrawler? Yeah, neither do I, because it unfortunately didn't happen.
Even though you might want to turn away, you can't seem to take your eyes off of what is going on during Gyllenhaal's performance of Louis Bloom. Similar to how other actors have transformed their bodies for a role, Gyllenhaal underwent a severe physical transformation to become Bloom, which was shocking enough. What pushed the shock value even further was how he managed to build tension within the character and have it translate to the audience, even without a catalyst. Sometimes just looking at him on screen was enough to make you feel uneasy or anxious, and this is a rare quality.
It's really a shame that #Nightcrawler didn't receive much attention outside of positive critical reviews. It was a bust in the 2015 awards season, as Gyllenhaal was passed over for both a BAFTA and Golden Globe, and he wasn't nominated for an Oscar at all. Nightcrawler only managed to snag one Oscar nomination — for Best Original Screenplay — and it didn't win. It's really unfortunate because this was a great movie, and what made it so great was the performance we got from Gyllenhaal.
What's your favorite Jake Gyllenhaal movie? Tell us in the comments below!