Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: First Five Forgotten in 2002

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The First Five Forgotten is the sixth in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, or further, in the case of this specific series, not to be confused with my first series, the Forgotten Five, which looked at the five films that came closest to getting nominated for Best Picture and ended up getting shut out entirely.

As Oscar season goes into hibernation for more than half the year, it’s a time to take a look back at past races. This time, I’ll be spotlighting the five performers that came closest to earning their first Oscar nominations and then ended up getting snubbed, in alphabetical order. If you feel I’ve left anyone off, please say so in the comments!

First Five Forgotten in 2002

Richard Gere (Chicago): The two-time Golden Globe nominee won his first trophy on the third try with his song and dance performance a famed lawyer Billy Flynn in the eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture. He got a SAG nod too but ended up sixth on the slate when he lost out to veteran Oscar nominee and two-time winner Michael Caine for his more traditional dramatic performance. This was probably the closest he ever got to Oscar, and if he couldn’t get nominated for this, I don’t know if he’ll ever be.

Ray Liotta (Narc): This excitable 80s and 90s film star returned with a vengeance as an allegedly dirty cop, buttoned up under a coat, extra pounds, and a gray beard. It’s the kind of transformation that usually means Oscar attention, but this crime thriller was likely too dark for voters. Liotta was excellent in this role, but most would probably cite it as his strongest performance, not likely to be repeated.

Alfred Molina (Frida):
This British character actor got his first solo awards attention for playing the famous female painter’s husband. Molina netted a SAG nod, a BAFTA nod, and more, but only Hayek and the film’s visual and audial elements made it all the way to Oscar. Molina came close to Oscar again in 2009 with “An Education,” and he’s had no shortage of roles since, including playing Dr. Octopus in “Spider-Man 2.”

Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven): If there was one lock for an Oscar nomination in 2002, it was Quaid, for his performance as a closeted gay husband in Todd Haynes’ gorgeous period drama. His snub allowed for Golden Globe and SAG lists to be merged, but his career best performance went unrecognized in a year when he also earned rave reviews for his lead role in “The Rookie.” Quaid did score a slew of nominations for his performance as Bill Clinton in the TV movie “The Special Relationship,” and continues to make occasionally good films.

Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love): This comedian got serious to star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s quiet drama. Anderson’s two previous films and his subsequent film all netted plenty of Oscar nominations, but not this one. It did get Sandler his first Golden Globe nod in the comedy category, proving that, though he doesn’t often shoot for it, he can turn off his goofy side if need be. His successive dramatic effort, “Reign Over Me,” didn’t quite click, and now he’s back to full-on comedy.

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