Hollywood has a very specific hierarchy nowadays. I mean it always has but it's become more about how to market then the actual filmmaking process. Studios flood the box office with hundreds of throwaway films just to make a quick penny. And then there are the Academy Awards...well some of us know the political nature of that and some don't. I'll put it this way, Jennifer Lopez is an Academy Award voter. Now whatever your opinion of her, based off her movie choices (Monster-in-Law, Gigli), do you think she should have any precedence in voting for who takes home an Oscar? I'll leave that question up to you. Today though, let's talk about the rogues of the film industry who, regardless of their stance in the empire where they choose not to kiss ass to get an award, are probably some of the most important actors to his the screen, both young and old.
When Joaquin Phoenix showed up, for me, it was "Gladiator". For most it was too because this was the first film he was recognized in. His role as Commodus, frankly one of the most egotistical characters I've ever seen, was spellbinding. Now Phoenix has never looked highly upon the Academy Awards. He finds it to be, as he put it, "I think it's total, utter bullshit and I don't want to be a part of it." While he apologized for it, the Academy has still never given him an Oscar. Whether this is political or he simply was not seen as the best man to receive it is anyone's guess. It became apparent to me when he did the truly unique film of "Her" this year and was not nominated, dubbed by many as a major snub. See though it was the movie of "Her" that made me realize, Phoenix is a maverick! While everyone else sticks to general films, he attempts to go in very unique directions. "I'm Still Here", whether it was a mockumentary or he had a mental breakdown, was unlike anything I had ever heard of. I refrained from watching it (The feces on a face kept me from it), I still praise the fact that Phoenix thinks like an artist every step of the way. He always attempts to branch out and play obscenely different roles from a psychotic Roman ruler to a guy looking for love in a computer. However, others have not been so lucky which leads me to my next guy...
Hawke hates the Academy Awards. He despises everything about it. And unfortunately, unlike Phoenix, he has been unable to take it back. That doesn't stop him from being one of the most important underused actors. From "Gattaca" to "Training Day" to the "Before" Trilogy with director Richard Linklater. Like Phoenix, Hawke seeks to do different movies that you wouldn't expect. Hell, to me, he helped make the best vampire film in a decade with "Daybreakers" that had so much undertone it was scary (Overpopulation and food shortage issues was a nice touch).
It's been primarily with director Linklater that he has remained relevant though. His personally-invested writing in "Before Midnight" alone shows this as he and co-star Julie Deply took their personal experiences and fed it into the continuing love story arc of Jesse and Céline. This film, the third installment in the one of the most unique film series ever (How many love story trilogies do you know of in Hollywood?) brought me to tears because of it's heartfelt approach to life. It wasn't a super happy ending but it was a realistically beautiful ending that showed a happy ending in a way you could believe it. And now Hawke did "Boyhood", a passion project of Linklater's that spans 13 years of a boy's life which was filmed intermediately over that young actor's life with Hawke and co-star Patricia Arquette. Point is, Hawke never stops trying to do different things. He's a true actor and artist no matter his problems with the industry and, somehow, he keeps succeeding. He managed to get nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars TWICE with "Before Midnight" and the previous installment "Before Sunset". But this list would't be complete without...
He's difficult to work with. No doubt, but he's always done good work...yet never won an Oscar. I could write a book on the number of amazing films he's done. "Grand Budapest Hotel" is just one of them but come on now. "American History X", "Fight Club", "Moonrise Kingdom", and the first to get the Hulk going in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Never won and probably won't win for a long time. Why? I have no clue. I have little information on why but he seems to be all for the Oscar game. Yet, never won. I really don't need to say much other than the fact the man dominates in whatever he acts in. He does comedies, dramas, dramedies, and superhero films. So sad, an actor passed over like him. Course we all know who to really feel bad for...
He's it. No one can argue it. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most brilliant actors out there. He has played pretty boys, bastards, idealists, and a vengeful Irishman. Also, he played one of the best versions of Jay Gatsby I've ever seen. He picks projects that leave a good feeling in your gut after you watch them. He's worked with Scorcese through most of his career...but does that take away his versatility? Hell no! He's never won an Oscar, been nominated, what, 5 times now?! He lost recently to Matthew McConaughey who starred in "Dallas Buyers Club". Now I thought McConaughey had definitely stepped it up this year, but would I say he was the best...eh. I personally thought his character was just a better focused version of all his wise-cracking roles. I suppose it was the context he played it in that helped though and the lengths him and co-star Jared Leto went to fit their roles physically. That's up to you guys but it's just a thought on the matter. Don't worry ladies, I got a female for you to follow this man.
Everyone talks their hide off about how good Jennifer Lawrence is...I talk my hide off about how good Rooney Mara is. She's versatile as a piece of clay. From "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" to "Her" to "The Social Network" to "Ain't Them Bodies Saints". She is completely about the artform. Now she's young but I already see her going the same way as these other actors. She'll play different roles that are so different and powerful from each other and get nothing for years. Me? I've never been a Jennifer Lawrence fan who I bring up because she'll the only young actress anyone really talks about (Or at least Tweets about). So I thought, let's mention the other heavy hitter out there who I think deserved it for her role in "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" alone (And to point out, beat JLaw in the running for the role). I don't know much but I do know that this girl is a talented young lady and her dive into mostly indie roles shows she doesn't want anything to do with big budget films, but rather films of pure art. I hope she doesn't fall into this line of actors who never get a win. I really hope not. She's it for me. She's everything I hope the industry to be for young actresses. Well her and...
Just watch "Noah". That's all I can say. Watch her performance in "Noah" and then get back to me. Then add "The Bling Ring" and "My Week with Marilyn" to the list. She's a slow starter but she's finally breaking free of the "Harry Potter" mold and see a young Helen Mirren in her. I hope she succeeds because her role in "Noah" won me over big (And made a biblical epic I could actually get behind!)
BOTTOM LINE - OSCARS MEAN NOTHING!
Ever heard of James Stewart? "It's a Wonderful Life", "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", "Vertigo", and "Rope". Never won an Oscar in his lifetime...probably one of the most recognized actors of all time. Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, never got an Oscar. "Vertigo", "The Birds", "Rope", and "Strangers on a Train" to name a few. Kevin Bacon has played everything from a child molester to a marine and with "X-Men: First Class" he now has conquered all genres. Has never even been nominated! What does the Academy know about good movies anyway?
Take heed my fellow movie watchers, the greats never need an award to be recognized. So if years later actresses like Rooney Mara or Emma Watson never win or DiCaprio forever remains without his, at this point, overdue Oscar then just remember it's not about how many $400 statues you win (At that rate I can just buy one for myself and it have the same value). No, it's about the long game, the films these actors leave behind. I mean the list is endless. Come on guys, what actors do you know who have never won an Oscar who should?