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Claudia Leisinger



THE NEXT-BEST ACTORS

February 2005

In the Oscar record books you’ve got Tracy and Hepburn; Meryl and Jaaack; more recently, Renee and Russell. Actors who seemingly need only appear in a home movie to be judged by their peers as deserving of an award. Yet valid as the five finalists usually are (Roberto ***ing Benigni aside), it’s often the same old usual suspects who are rounded up. Comedy, most blockbusters, genuinely disturbing characters or anyone not playing someone obviously disabled, diseased or dying rarely get a look in. Here’s Hotdog’s alternative countdown to the best of the rest who should have been patrolling the red carpet on Oscar night… Story: Leigh Singer


25. CHRISTOPHER REEVE – Actor - Superman: The Movie (1978)
Tragic how only Reeve’s accident and premature death made people recognise how superbly he brought the comic book Man of Steel to life.

24. Louise Brooks – Actress - Pandora’s Box (1929)
Silent but deadly. Brooks’ iconic, ill-fated good-time girl Lulu – and hairstyle – still speaks louder than most vocal performances.

23. BILL MURRAY – Supporting Actor – Rushmore (1998)
Murray’s low-key, lovelorn millionaire got lost in transition between his earlier broad comedies and later acceptance as a “real” actor.

22. TONY CURTIS – Actor - Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Bravely displaying the darker side of his ambition and pretty-boy looks to devastating effect in this savage noir classic.

21. STOCKARD CHANNING – Supporting Actress – Grease (1978)
Brassy, sexy, funny, all in a crowd-pleasing musical - an Academy kiss of death in the days before Chicago.

20. JOSEPH COTTEN – Actor - The Third Man (1949)
Forget Orson Welles’ showboating cameo, the perennially underrated Cotten’s hapless innocent abroad is this masterpiece’s real top man.

19. ANDIE MCDOWELL – Actress - sex, lies and videotape (1989)
She’s invariably the worst thing in any given film – making her stunning, sensitive turn here even more of a revelation.

18. PETER LORRE – Actor – M (1931)
Lorre’s haunted child-killer is terrifying, pathetic, hypnotic - but no easy watch. Hollywood preferred him as an all-purpose ‘foreigner’ in harmless second-fiddle roles.

17. JOHN MALKOVICH – Supporting Actor - Being John Malkovich (1999)
Hilarious and fearless in the least flattering ‘biopic’ ever. Would have been a kick just to hear the nomination read out.

16. MALCOLM MCDOWELL – Actor - A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Their omission of McDowell’s ferocious tour de force makes you feel like inflicting a bit of ultra-violence on priggish Academy voters.

15. MEG RYAN – Actress - When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Classy, sexy, funny, all in a crowd-pleasing comedy – an Academy kiss of death in the days before… well, still, actually.

14. SIGOURNEY WEAVER – Supporting Actress - The Ice Storm (1999)
Standout supporting turns for Hollywood royalty in prestigious literary adaptations usually pay off but Weaver got frozen out.

13. JOHN WAYNE – Actor - The Searchers (1956)
Briefly ditched flag-waving jingoism to deliver genuinely icon-shattering performance. Acknowledgment might have prevented later sympathy vote for True Grit.

12. HARVEY KEITEL – Actor - Bad Lieutenant (1992)
So convincing as a desperate, depraved cop that if a category existed for ‘Best Animal Performance’, he’d probably have won.

11. KATHLEEN TURNER – Actress - Body Heat (1981)
A genuine breakout leading lady rather than ingénue, Turner’s predatory seductress took no prisoners, multiple plaudits but somehow no nomination.

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10. MARTIN SHEEN – Actor – Badlands (1973)
It takes balls to self-consciously echo James Dean, as well as highlight the darkness on the edge of youthful alienation, but Sheen triumphed in Terrence Malick’s poetic lovers-on-the-run debut, to little recognition. Sometimes there’s just no jurrstice.


9. NAOMI WATTS – Actress - Mulholland Drive (2001)
Somehow surviving the tortuous, torturous mind-bending of David Lynch’s surreal nightmare and its journey from aborted TV show to re-stitched feature, Watts is simply mind-blowing as both perky wannabe starlet and suicidal drug-addled burnout.


8. SAMUEL L. JACKSON – Supporting Actor – Jungle Fever (1991)
When the Cannes Film Festival creates an award to honour your performance, you’d think the US Academy could slip you into their shortlist, but Jackson’s bravura jive-talkin’, crack-addicted hustler was outrageously left out.


7. Cary Grant – Actor - Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Or see The Awful Truth, His Girl Friday, North by Northwest or any number of breezy comedy / light thriller roles where Grant’s effortless brilliance somehow made Oscar voters forget he was actually acting.


6. Marilyn Monroe – Actress - Some Like It Hot (1959)
OK, she was never Katharine Hepburn, but could anyone else – ever – have matched Monroe’s sizzling mix of screen goddess and deft comedienne? There are many reasons the film’s regularly voted greatest-ever comedy; she’s undoubtedly several of them.


5. ROBERT MITCHUM - Actor - Night of the Hunter (1955)
Forever anti-establishment, Mitchum always went his own way. Small wonder though, that few dared follow his psycho preacher Harry Powell, knuckles tattooed with LOVE and HATE, to the darker recesses of screen villainy. Speaking of which…


4. DENNIS HOPPER – Supporting Actor – Blue Velvet (1986)
After years out of his head, Hopper’s ‘86 comeback indeed reaped a nomination – bizarrely for sweet sports saga Hoosiers, rather than one of film’s most chilling lunatics, Frank Booth. Maybe his claim, “I am Frank” was just too convincing.


3. SUSAN SARANDON – Actress - Bull Durham (1988)
Later an Oscar fave, Sarandon missing out for her poetry-reading baseball groupie / disciple was a travesty. She gracefully hits home runs for relaxed comedy, heartfelt drama and the amorous older woman onscreen, even helping make Costner seem sexy.


2. JEFF BRIDGES – Actor - The Big Lebowski (1998)
Apparently everyone in Hollywood loves Jeff Bridges, so why is he constantly overlooked? The blissfully content centre around which the Coen Brothers most laidback outing gently meanders, he’s flawless. Again. Forget transient awards, ‘The Dude’ abides.


1. ANTHONY PERKINS – Actor – Psycho (1960)
Blame Hitchcock. Trumpeting his own – admittedly brilliant - cinematic sleight-of-hand and shock ending, he never acknowledged that it all only worked if audiences believed in Norman Bates. Perkins achieves one of cinema’s indelible performances, his nervy, sweet-natured Mother’s boy bringing genuine emotion – and thus tension - into Hitchcock’s heartless mousetrap, setting you up perfectly for the horrifying revelation that… sometimes the Academy really doesn’t have a clue.


Every Loser Wins

Read it and weep – the following have all been Oscar-nominated for acting…

Dan Aykroyd (Driving Miss Daisy)
Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful)*
Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower)*
Diana Ross (Lady Sings the Blues)
Sylvester Stallone (Rocky)
* actual winners


Every Winner Loses

And, incredibly, these fine thesps have never been…

Kevin Bacon
Steve Buscemi
John Cusack
Mia Farrow
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Ray Liotta
Steve Martin
Gary Oldman
Donald Sutherland


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