6 days until Oscars: 6 Best Losing Performances

There are exactly 1,322 loser and 344 winner acting performances in 86 years of Oscars. Nevertheless the winners deserved the glory or not, there always have been losing performances that were no less equally good to have their name on that envelope. So, before we add up 16 more losers and 4 winners to these numbers, here is my 6 best performances that lost their battle to other nominees.

The honorable mentions, in alphabetical order:

Bette Davis (All About Eve, 1950) - lost to Judy Holliday in `Born Yesterday`

Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, 1976) - lost to Peter Finch in `Network`

Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon, 1975) - lost to Jack Nicholson in `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest`

Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004) - lost to Hilary Swank in `Million Dollar Baby`

So, my top 6 losing performances are:

6. Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, 1990)
    lost to Kathy Bates in Misery
Among so many brilliant performances I chose Julia Robert's Vivien because of such a lovely portrayal of Hollywood Blv prostitute. She probably created a face of most beloved, funny and sweet prostitutes ever in film history. Playing Vivien was the biggest turn in her career, regardless previous nomination for Steel Magnolias. Julia's acting is masterful for quite a number of reasons, most importantly for sincere, emotional acting that combined enough of drama and comedy.

5. Viola Davis (The Help, 2011)
    lost to Meryl Streep in Iron Lady
When Meryl Streep accepted her third Oscar, she quite precisely quoted half of people watching the ceremony: "Oh, come on, why her, again". It's not that she was not brilliant as Margaret Thatcher, it's just that she took an Oscar from equally brilliant Viola Davis, whose portrayal of servant Aibileen Clark was hearbreaking, devastating and utterly emotional. I remember watching her and saying, this is it - one of the best performances I've seen for ages. I was not particularly disappointed by Streep's win, but Viola's work could have easily have won any other year.

4. Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie, 1982)
    lost to Sir Ben Kingsley in Ghandi
I remember growing up and watching Tootsie multiple times - it's my moms one of most favorite films and I always was surprised how amazingly Dustin played two different characters of Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels. He carefully maps out both characters, drawing specific lines between these different persons and figuring out some similarities too. The same time, it becomes clear that Dorothy is an act for Michael. Hoffman's hilarious performance is one of the most remarkable works and because of it's complicated character(s) I placed it #4 in my list.

3. Jack Lemmon (Some Like It Hot, 1959)
    lost to Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur
One of the most delightful, funny and memorable performances I've ever seen. Lemmon playing a musician Jerry dressed up like woman, playing in a woman chorus is most entertaining couple of hours in films. A comedy can be funny on so many levels, from smart jokes to funny characters and hilarious acting. Some Like It Hot has it all and most importantly Jack Lemmon's hysterical performance. He not only tells some jokes, but absolutely disappears in the comic skin of his character. 

2. Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951)
   lost to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen
This is Brando's my favorite performance and mostly because of whatever he does whenever he stares at Blanche DuBois. His every look, every motion and line perfectly embodies a character Tennessee Williams wrote. Even though 50's is not my favorite movie decade, A Streetcar Named Desire and Marlon Brando are shining part of this still black and white period. 

1. Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People, 1980)
   lost to Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter
Ordinary People is one of my all time favorite films and one of the reasons are performances, especially Mary Tyler Moore who plays a mother estranged from the rest of family after tragic death of older son. This movie is full of drama, a quiet, stormy drama, that grows from first minutes to the end. Beth is a character of many layers: she is a loving mother, a faithful wife, but being never able to recover from biggest tragedy of her life, she has to let everything go. But she does not find it easy, all these emotions, every encounter with younger son Conrad (Timothy Hutton) eat her up from inside. Moore does here the greatest job to tell her character in emotions, speeches, words, looks. In my opinion, she is phenomenal in Ordinary People.

What you think of these performances? Are there any others you'd include?

2 comments:

  1. Nice list! Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street tops mine. And Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. Those were wonderful.

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  2. Good choice on Leo, though I love his performance in The Aviator the most. I almost included Ledger in honorable mentions. But you know, he was so magnificent in The Dark Knight, I "forget" even Brokeback Mountain.

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