TOP 10: Oscar Acting Snubs of the 2000s

I wrote my overly enthusiastic write-up on the Oscar nominations a few days ago, but the reality is that quite a few of my favorite performances were left out. No Aaron Eckhart. No Leonardo DiCaprio (for either Shutter Island or Inception). No Marion Cotillard. No Robert Duvall. And no Julianne Moore.

But if I’m being honest, none of these snubs gets under my skin like some others in the past decade. So I give you my list of the 10 most egregious acting snubs in the last 10 years.

10.) Kerri Russell (Waitress)
Russell brings this film down to a relatable level. The film is a little quirky for its own good, but Russell keeps us invested in her story. She’s never been better.

9.) Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky)
This performance is so great because the brilliance of the film relies on it. Don’t misunderstand—Sally Hawkins was incredible (and will be making her appearance further down the page). But what makes the film as a whole more than just a goofy character study is Marsan’s misunderstood, socially backward driving instructor. His final confrontation with Poppy is equal parts scary and heartbreaking.

8.) Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
DeWitt’s work here is a revelation. Her character is so kind and gentle, although she too has trouble dealing with Anne Hathaway’s Kym. But her pain is different. While she will likely never forget what her sister did, she has forgiven. What she can’t forgive is the lying and manipulation of her addicted sister. Yet, her quiet dignity in the face of an imploding family and chaotic wedding is moving and inspiring.

7.) Jennifer Garner (Juno)
Remember what I said about Kerri Russell? It applies here, only in a more impressive fashion. Why? Juno is a significantly weaker film than Waitress, yet the film sparkles when Garner is onscreen. She stands out as a real person, which no one else in the film’s ensemble can honestly say.

6.) Uma Thurman (Kill Bill, Vol. 2)
She gets the nod for the second film because it’s a more juicy acting showcase (the first film is all about Tarantino). Some will look at Beatrix Kiddo as one-note—that note being vengeful. But she’s more complicated than that, especially in this film. Side note: The late David Carradine, Thurman’s co-star, just missed inclusion on this list.

5.) Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven)
Few could have expected a three-dimensional performance like this from Dennis Quaid, but he pulls it off spectacularly. He’s a man who hates himself for who he is, and he takes his frustration out on his adoring wife. His internal conflict is always visible, but never overdone.

4.) Sam Rockwell (Moon)
I always thought it must be really difficult to play off oneself, but Sam Rockwell takes that one step further, for he has nobody else around him to work with. This really is his show, and he deserves all the credit in the world for Moon being such a fine film. He must play two characters: one burnt out, the other fresh, while both are confused and struggling to survive. It’s remarkable stuff.

3.) Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Hawkins’ Poppy is one of the most bizarre characters in recent memory. She’s grating for quite a while, but somewhere along the way, she grows on you and starts to look more like a human being, rather than a live British version of the Energizer Bunny. And like her co-star Marsan, the film’s climax reveals a lot about her and her way of life. She shows us more in that one scene than most actresses did in any film that year.

2.) Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed)
In The Departed, DiCaprio shows an intensity I didn’t think he had. His Billy Costigan is a desperate man, constantly having to watch his back. It’s the sign of a phenomenal performance when you shine in every scene you are in with Jack Nicholson. Yet the Academy recognized his completely average work in Blood Diamond the same year. Unbelievable.

1.) Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
This is a volcanic performance if I’ve ever seen one from an actor who transformed from talented supporting player to one of the greats. In Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, he is frightening. He feels pain for the awful things he does, but instead of making them right, he digs himself deeper. It’s a really complex character, and Hoffman just nails it.

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