TOP 10: Worst Oscar-Nominated Performances of the 2000s

This week, I was inspired by just how strong the acting categories are at the Oscars across the board. Are the five nominated actors and actresses in each category my very favorites? No, not quite, but there really aren’t any performances that I find undeserving.

Below are ten nominated performances (from the last decade) that I DO find undeserving. They aren’t necessarily bad, just not Oscar-worthy. Let me know what you think!

10.) Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
“That Johnny Depp can do anything,” is a phrase that drives me up a wall. C’mon, the guy plays the same anti-social/gothic/creepy weirdo in every movie he’s in. Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sleepy Hollow (actually, I blame his relationship with Tim Burton for this unfortunate case of typecasting). I still maintain the only reason he was recognized for Sweeney Todd was the fact that he sang. Otherwise, it’s just his usual shtick.

Should have been nominated: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

9.) Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
I guess people got a kick out of seeing the incomparable Meryl Streep play a villain. I’ll admit that it’s a juicy part, but Oscar-worthy? I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.

Should have been nominated: Naomi Watts, The Painted Veil

8.) Ethan Hawke, Training Day
He gets overshadowed in almost every scene of the film, and somehow that’s nomination-worthy? I get that the part called for that, but I’ve got to think Hawke has a little more in him than what he gives here.

Should have been nominated: Tony Shalhoub, The Man Who Wasn’t There

7.) Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Oh, that accent! It just drives me crazy. I actually really like this film, but I think it’s DiCaprio’s weakest performance in a long time. It certainly doesn’t help when you have Djimon Hounsou acting circles around you, and the exclusion of his performance in The Departed in favor of this is especially damning in hindsight.

Should have been nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed

6.) Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Substitute Smith for an unknown actor, and the film and performance are easy to ignore.

Should have been nominated: See #7

5.) Russell Crowe, Gladiator
Fun movie. Great leading man work by Crowe, but how did he get an Oscar for it? They wouldn’t give one to Jason Statham or Vin Diesel for heading up a big action flick, but they gave one to Crowe? I don’t get it.

Should have been nominated: Gene Hackman, The Royal Tenenbaums

4.) Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Should have been nominated: Naomi Watts, King Kong

3.) Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
OK, I love this film, and I thought Breslin’s performance was exactly what it needed to be, but it wasn’t nomination-worthy. She just runs around looking cute and saying funny, precocious things.

Should have been nominated: Vera Farmiga, The Departed

2.) Matt Damon, Invictus
Has Damon ever had less charisma than in Clint Eastwood’s rugby drama? It’s really a thankless role. He isn’t given much to do and there’s almost no character arc to speak of.

Should have been nominated: Peter Capaldi, In the Loop

1.) Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Shameful. The Oscars turned into the Golden Globes in 2009, handing out awards to people just because they are likeable and really famous. If Sandra impersonating a sassy Southern mother is enough to win an Oscar, I fear for the future of this institution.

Should have been nominated: Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones

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