TOM HANKS OSCAR SNUB WAS INEXCUSABLE – Every year when the Oscar nominations come out, there are a few key “snubs” that get fans up in arms, actors or actresses, or even films, left out of categories in which they seemed to deserve award recognition. Often, a “snub” is merely the victim of a stacked field of nominees (such as Emma Thompson in this year’s Best Actress category). However, this Oscar season one snub stands out as particularly egregious: that Tom Hanks did not receive a Best Actor nomination for his work in Captain Phillips is nothing short of ridiculous.
Now, just to run through the field of actors who did receive nominations, just about all of them were as deserving as Hanks. Chiwetel Ejiofor turned in one of the most emotional, heart-wrenching lead roles in years as the enslaved free man Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave; Matthew McConaughey revolutionized his career with a bold, brave portrayal of Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club; Christian Bale stole the show in a cast full of superstar actors and actresses in American Hustle; and Leonardo DiCaprio put in a delightfully over-the-top and profoundly enjoyable effort as the legendary Jordan Belfort in The Wolf Of Wall Street.
But there’s one actor on the list of Best Actor nominees whose performance, while undoubtedly strong, just didn’t seem to involve the effort or complexity of the others. With no disrespect to his career or acting prowess, Bruce Dern should not have been nominated for his work in Nebraska.
The arguments in Dern’s favour will be familiar. Some will say the nomination is more of a lifetime achievement recognition than an honour of this specific role. Some will argue that Dern’s performance was one full of subtleties, and that just because the film was slow doesn’t mean his role was any less challenging. And some will say that those who don’t value Dern’s performance simply can’t accept a modern black-and-white film. But even with a totally open mind toward black-and-white films, and the utmost respect for acting subtleties, one can see that Dern’s primary action in Nebraska was to amble around mumbling.
Hanks, by contrast, displayed such a wide range of emotion throughout Captain Phillips that opinions on the role ranged from people thinking he hardly had to act in the early portions, to many deciding the last half hour of the film was some of the finest acting they’d ever seen. Taking things a step further, a writer for The Spectator simply declared “Tom Hanks is the greatest actor alive” in a review of the film.
Nevertheless, the nomination went to Dern, and film fanatics everywhere are scratching their heads as to why. We may never fully know the answer ,but actually, in a post on Oscar nominees and predictions, the Betfair betting site may have hit the nail on the head as to why Dern received the nomination over Hanks. In their analysis on favourites for the major awards, they wrote that it was “surprising to see Tom Hanks omitted for his performance in Captain Phillips but Bruce Dern represents the old guys admirably.” Translation: Despite his spectacular ability, Hanks is familiar, whereas Dern gives those behind the nomination the chance to do something noble.
“Representing the old guys” may ultimately be as good an explanation as there is for Dern getting the nod over Hanks, and it’s frankly not a very satisfactory one. Yet this wouldn’t be the first time that the powers behind the Oscars seemed to have done something for the sake of a gesture, rather than purely for performance. Bruce Dern is a respected, elderly actor, and it’s a hell of a nod to his career to give him this nomination. But there’s simply no way to argue that he out-performed Tom Hanks.