As we march closer to the Oscars on Sunday, I thought it might be nice to post some lists about the Oscars. For this list, I just took all four acting categories, and picked the 10 people who I thought were the least deserving of their wins. I’ve seen nine of these ten performances. I tried only picking out roles that I had actually seen, but when I saw that Art Carney beat out some true heavy hitters, I had to include him on this list, especially given the general consensus that he probably shouldn’t have won that Oscar. I have two honorable mentions: Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny and Jack Palance for City Slickers. I didn’t include them because I hadn’t seen enough of their competition to really make me feel like they robbed someone else more deserving of an Oscar.
1) Jean Dujardin- The Artist
I would not have given the trophy to Dujardin. I likely wouldn’t even have nominated him. I thought the movie was cute, clever, and different, but there’s nothing really special about Dujardin’s performance here. His competition wasn’t really that strong, and that’s why he won. However, if presented with those five choices, I would have likely picked Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and bought into the career win for Oldman.
2) Roberto Benigni- Life Is Beautiful
I actually didn’t like the film, and I’ve never liked Benigni. I wouldn’t have nominated him, and his clown role ended up beating out Tom Hanks for Saving Private Ryan, Ian McKellan for Gods and Monsters, Edward Norton for American History X, and Nick Nolte for Affliction. Literally any of those performances is more deserving than this.
3) Art Carney- Harry and Tonto
Carney beat out Al Pacino for The Godfather pt 2 and Jack Nicholson for Chinatown, two of the most iconic performances of all time, in two of the biggest classic films of all time. That’s just insane.
4) Cuba Gooding Jr- Jerry Maguire
Gooding should have just been happy with a nomination. It was a breakout performance in a comedy, and like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, just getting a nomination was recognition enough. The fact that he beat out William H Macy for Fargo and Edward Norton for Primal Fear is insane. Show me the money? How about show me a recount.
5) Sandra Bullock- The Blind Side
I love Sandra, and I would have loved to see her get an Oscar nomination for a performance that was actually deserving of an Oscar. I honestly thought she was better in Hope Floats, or even Our Brand Is Crisis. Considering she beat out Gabourey Sidibe for Precious and Carey Mulligan for An Education, this was clearly just “her time”.
6) Nicole Kidman- The Hours
I didn’t like the film, and I didn’t think Kidman was very good in this either. She’s also had much more deserving performances, like in The Others, or even her nominated role in Lion. Here, she ended up with weaker competition. Still, I can’t help but think Julianne Moore was robbed for her role in Far From Heaven, or even Salma Hayek for Frida.
7) Gwyneth Paltrow- Shakespeare In Love
This is the performance that always makes one of these lists. It’s infuriating to think this film also won Best Picture, but it’s also maddening that Paltrow stole the trophy from Meryl Streep for One True Thing or Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth.
8) Cher- Moonstruck
An OK performance from Cher ended up landing her an Oscar over the iconic performance given by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. That’s just not OK. Close deserved that trophy, and I think if voting was done today, she would win.
9) Judi Dench- Shakespeare In Love
Dench is a tremendous actress. I actually think she should have been nominated for Skyfall. That’s how amazing I think she is. But her winning this category for her eight minutes of screentime, beating out Lynn Redgrave for Gods and Monsters, Brenda Blethyn for Little Voice, and even Kathy Bates in Primary Colors is just an injustice. Dench deserves to be an Oscar winner, just not for this role.
10) Mira Sorvino- Mighty Aphrodite
I honestly didn’t even think she was that good in this film. Sorvino hasn’t really done anything great her entire career. She’s been an OK actress, but she’s never really put out anything Oscar caliber, including this performance. I would have much rather seen the trophy go to Joan Allen for Nixon or Kate Winslet for Sense and Sensibility.