The maligned genre often gets overlooked on Hollywood's biggest night of the year.
Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his disturbing portrait of evil in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Sissy Spacek scored a Best Actress nomination for playing a teen with telekinetic powers in “Carrie.”
The 2017 smash “Get Out” had plenty of progressive social commentary to boost its Oscar chances. The film ended up earning Jordan Peele an Academy Award for “Best Original Screenplay.”
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Those are the exceptions to the Oscar rule. The Academy has little respect for horror titles. Horror, like comedy, routinely gets overlooked during awards season.
Year after year terrific performances get slighted simply because the actors delivered them in genre settings. “The Shining” earned legendary director Stanley Kubrick a Razzie Award nomination for Pete’s sake.
So, in honor of Halloween, let’s raise a glass of fake blood to six performances that deserved Oscar nominations but got tricked instead.
- Jack Nicholson, “The Shining” (1980): Try compiling a “Best Horror Movie” list without Stanley Kubrick’s take on snowbound isolation. It all starts with Nicholson, whose evolution from mild-mannered scribe to door-shattering madman cemented his legend.
- Jeff Goldblum, “The Fly” (1986): This horror remake ladled on the gore, but it was the man beneath the muck that mattered. Goldblum, a supporting actor given the chance to lead a project, conveys both intellectual curiosity and sex appeal as a scientist who (nearly) corrals the power of transportation.
- Anthony Perkins, “Psycho” (1960): Academy voters showed this future classic some love at the time – doling out nominations for Alfred Hitchcock (Best Director) and Janet Leigh (Best Supporting Actress). No such luck for Perkins. His Norman Bates became a monster unlike any other, a shy man tortured by demons still playing out on A&E’s “Bates Motel.”
- Dieter Laser, “The Human Centipede” (2009): Pauly Shore stood a better chance of winning an honorary Oscar than this film earning a single Oscar vote. Yet Laser’s turn as the oh, so mad scientist who links three people together is darkly comic, unnerving and chilling to the core.
- Lin Shaye, “insidious” (2010): Shaye doesn’t appear until later in the film, but she arrives in enough time to change the mood and give audiences a chance to catch their breath. It’s a warm, colorful performance, the kind that draws voters’ attention when found in dramatic fare.
- James McAvoy, “Split” (2017): Director M. Night Shyamalan’s career comeback earned its gold certificate with this smash. The film, which sets up the 2019 sequel “Glass,” cast the slim British actor as a man with multiple personalities within him. It’s a role any actor would relish. What McAvoy does with the part, though, is nothing less than sensational. The actor clearly bulked up for the role, but it’s his vocal mannerisms that seal the creepy deal.
- Gene Jones, “The Sacrament” (2014): This selection requires a peek into the not-so-distant future. Director Ti West’s spin on the Jonestown Massacre is technically in the current Oscar season mix. Does anyone believe an indie horror film will snare the Academy’s attention? What a shame, since Jones captivates as “Father,” the cult leader fending off questions from journalists eager to learn his formula for happiness.