With the Oscars airing tonight, I thought I’d share five performances that never received an Oscar — but should have.
Denzel Washington, Malcolm X
Al Pacino is a legend and he should have won an award for The Godfather or The Godfather: Part II. But his performance in Scent of a Woman has nothing on Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. Washington was powerful, intense, and unforgettable. He embodied the character instead of just imitating him and turning him into a caricature. And for someone as divisive as Malcolm X, Washington was able to give him depth and portray all of his nuances.
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth I
Blanchett has gotten her fair share of Oscars (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine), but her first Oscar should have been for Elizabeth I. Before she becomes the Queen of England, Elizabeth starts off very playful and innocent — and a little flirtatious, even. When she comes into power, she transforms into a much more powerful, dominant, and politically savvy figure. As the character transformed and evolved, Blanchett gave us a captivating performance from start to finish.
Viola Davis, The Help
We all know Meryl Streep is a wonderful and fantastic actress and she could play a better Batman than Christian Bale himself, but The Iron Lady was not a remarkable or memorable movie. This should have been the year that Viola Davis won for The Help. As much as that movie banks on the white savior trope with Emma Stone’s character, the strength of this movie comes in the form of Viola Davis’ outstanding performance.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
The real tragedy is that DiCaprio wasn’t even nominated for Django Unchained. His Oscar went to his co-star instead. And don’t get me wrong, Christoph Waltz is great. But he did the exact same thing in Django as he did in Inglourious Basterds (which he also won an Oscar for), except he wasn’t the villain this time around. When I think about Django, I think about DiCaprio’s vicious and sadistic Calvin Candie and Jamie Foxx’s heroic Django.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
As Solomon Northup, a free man abducted into slavery, Ejiofor was absolutely breathtaking. 12 Years a Slave was a career defining performance for him — his eyes in those close-up shots by director Steve McQueen still haunt me to this day.
What performance(s) do you think should have gotten an Oscar?