Movie Blogger Alex Withrow's list 'Top 10 Supporting Actors Not Nominated Alongside Their Leads' at 'And So It Begins' inspired me to make my own list. There have been many great supporting performances across the years. My favourite Oscar winners in the category are Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter), Walter Huston (Treasure of the Sierra Madre), George Sanders (All About Eve)... and my all time favourite is Joel Grey in Cabaret. So it got me wondering, what are some great supporting performances that weren't even nominated. I was flabbergasted to find that I could name about 50 of them. I managed to narrow my list down to what I consider to be the Top 20 Best Supporting Actor Performances that were Robbed of an Oscar Nomination.
My choices in order of their year are:
Louis Wolheim - All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Note: At the time this film was made, the Academy didn't honor supporting roles.
Louis Wolheim was the life and soul of All Quiet on the Western Front, a film I consider to be one of the greatest ever made. He brought comedy and light into an otherwise dark and brooding film. Most importantly, his performance was just natural. He brought a real sense of reality to this devastating film.
Alec Guinness - Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Alec Guinness gave one of the most daring and wickedly entertaining performances of all time in Kind Hearts and Coronets. He played a woman, and about 5 other different characters if I remember correctly. He brought a different air, or personality, to each character. I couldn't imagine anyone delivering a better performance than he in this role... not even Peter Sellers.
Toshiro Mifune - Seven Samurai (1954)
Toshiro Mifune was jaw-droppingly crazy in Seven Samurai. I even started calling my cat Kikuchiyo (the name of his character). He brought the spark of hilarity to the film, but also a shocking vulnerability to his character, particularly during the scene where he tries to stop a child from crying. It's actually a very complex role, and one of the best performances in cinematic history.
Orson Welles - Touch of Evil (1959)
Orson Welles is one of the greatest figures in cinematic history, and I consider his performance in Touch of Evil to be his second greatest (behind Citizen Kane). He played a fat, proud, corrupt police detective that frames suspects just so his record stays impeccable. The last half hour of the film is extremely suspenseful, and it's all due to those piercing eyes and stunning words from Welles.
George C. Scott - Dr. Strangelove (1964)
George C. Scott was brilliant in Dr. Strangelove. I still can't believe he didn't get nominated for this role. If you look up perfect comedic timing in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of C. Scott and Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove.
Eli Wallach - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Spaghetti westerns seldom got nominated for anything at the Academy Awards. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly should have won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Cinematography etc. Above all, Eli Wallach should have won Best Supporting Actor for his stunning portrayal as The Ugly in this film. He's the most memorable character in one of the most memorable movies ever made.
John Cazale - The Godfather Part II (1974)
I'm not a die-hard fan of the Godfather movies. I liked the first one, but loved Part II. You know why I loved Part II more? John Cazale. When I think of that film, I see his face. He brought powerful emotion into an otherwise monotoned straight-talking movie. DeNiro was wrongfully awarded the Oscar for playing a silent man with a hard face in this film. This Oscar belonged to Cazale, who wasn't even nominated.
Robert Shaw - Jaws (1975)
I consider Robert Shaw to be the life and soul of Jaws. His character is a conceited, stubborn, half-crazy fishing fanatic... yet he's the most likeable character of the lot in my opinion. To me, he gave one of the most memorable performances in the history of cinema. I also consider his performance in The Sting (1973) to be one of the greatest supporting roles, but it just misses my Top 20.
Anthony Hopkins - The Elephant Man (1980)
That single tear. That single damn tear that Anthony Hopkins shed in The Elephant Man should have been enough to secure him the Oscar for supporting Actor. Hopkins is a major reason why this film is so emotionally devastating. I consider this Hopkins second greatest performance, behind The Silence of the Lambs.
Rutger Hauer - Blade Runner (1982)
Rutger Hauer spoke one of the most beautiful lines of dialogue I've ever heard in my life. That scene at the end of Blade Runner is one of the greatest in the history of cinema. I don't think that line could have been delivered better by any other actor. I'm at a loss for words to describe that scene... all I can say is that it is beautiful. "I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost in time, like tears... in... rain."
Raul Julia - Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
Without Raul Julia, there was no Kiss of the Spider Woman. He and William Hurt had an infectious chemistry, and a relationship that made my heart sing. He was a tough man, yet he showed extremely touching moments of vulnerability and fear. There's so much to say about this performance... he should have won the Oscar.
Dennis Hopper - Blue Velvet (1986)
I think I was about 12 when I first saw Blue Velvet. Dennis Hopper creeped me out like there was no tomorrow. When I re-watched it recently, my feelings were exactly the same. He played one of the creepiest, most devious characters in cinematic history. I think his role was too strange and controversial for the Academy, as was Isabella Rosselini's in the same film. They both should have won Oscars.
Philippe Noiret - Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Philippe Noiret played one of the most loveable, most beautiful characters of all time in Cinema Paradiso. To me, his role as Alfredo reminded me of everything good in the world. Whenever I hear Ennio Morricone's gorgeous score, I think of Noiret's face when he let's a rambunctious crowd view a movie in the town square. I'll never forget it.
John Goodman - Barton Fink (1991) and The Big Lebowski (1998)
John Goodman is a legend. A freaking legend! "I'll show you the life of the mind" and "Shut the fuck up Donnie!" Are two of my all time favourite moments in movie history, and they come from two different films. His performance in Barton Fink is unforgettable, and arguably his greatest role. His performance in The Big Lebowski is the second funniest I've ever seen in my life, and my personal favourite role of his. When talking of the greatest supporting actors, you can't look past John Goodman.
Denzel Washington - Philadelphia (1993)
Some say this was a very daring role for Washington to play. At first, he was a slightly homophobic lawyer who refused to take on the case of a gay man wrongly fired for his sexuality. Then we see him evolve into a crusader for gay men everywhere, when he takes on the case and realises the injustice towards Tom Hanks' character. This is my personal favourite role of Denzel Washington, because although he's often stern, you can see his thoughts through the subtle expressions on his face.
Terence Stamp - Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Terence Stamp gave one of the greatest performances of all time in Priscilla. It's my all time favourite supporting performance by any actor too. There are so many hilarious lines he says, such beautiful moments of pain and vulnerability, and such a huge range of emotions! He is a dynamo in this film, an absolute gem of an actor! I'll always remember him for saying "That's just what this country needs. A cock, in a frock, on a rock."
Robert Carlyle - Ravenous (1999)
Robert Carlyle would have to be one of the most underrated actors of all time. He showed hilarity and vulnerability in The Full Monty (1997). Insanity in Trainspotting (1996). But my all time favourite performance of his was his cannibalistic character in Ravenous. The crazy look in his eyes! The wild smile on his face! The intensity of his voice! Everything about his performance was masterful.
Sean Astin - The Two Towers (2002)
Sean Astin was by far the greatest actor in The Two Towers. While we may remember him well for his banter with Smeagol, and his immortal line "Mr. Frodo," I'll always remember him for the monologue he produced at the end of the film. When he was talking about how a hero is a person that had the chance to turn back, but they didn't. It was as good a performance as any I've ever seen. Perhaps the best of the whole LOTR franchise.
Richard Gere - Chicago (2002)
Say what you will about Chicago, Richard Gere showed me what a versatile actor he is. At first I thought he'd be crap, but then he blew the songs out of the water! He gave a performance that shed any doubts of why he was cast in the role. Now I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than him. He certainly gave me "the old, razzle dazzle."
Chris New - Weekend (2011)
This is my most random entry on the list by far. Weekend happens to be my second favourite LGBT film of all time, behind Brokeback Mountain. Chris New's performance was masterful because it was REAL. He played a real man, with real things to say, with real emotions, in what seemed like such a real story. This film flew under the radar in 2011, but I'd call it one of the greatest of all time. Chris New is a major reason why.
Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
"Hushpuppy, where you at!?" I was disgusted at the Academy for nominating Alan Arkin for Argo over Dwight Henry for Beasts of the Southern Wild. This is another performance that was masterful because of how real it was. Henry played an alcoholic, poor, uneducated, yet caring father to a personable 5 year old girl. I always feel crushed at the end of the film. Devastated when he says goodbye to Hushpuppy. "No crying, you hear?" The tears streaming down his face say it all... it's one of the worst robberies in the history of the Oscars.
So there you have it. This list was a labour of love. If there's anything I've missed, or any performances you disagree with, just tell me in a comment. Thanks for reading :)