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News / Life / Entertainment

Annette Bening and Paul Giamatti are ‘due’ Oscars

By Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times
Published: March 9, 2024, 5:58am

LOS ANGELES — How many Oscar nominations do you need to earn before you’re considered “overdue” for a win?

Is Annette Bening, who earned her fifth nomination this year for her portrayal of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, overdue? What about Carey Mulligan, now nominated for a third time, for the poise and strength she brought to “Maestro”? Maybe? Can you be overdue if you haven’t yet turned 40? What about 30? (Asking for Saoirse Ronan, who has already collected four nods without winning.)

And consider Paul Giamatti, celebrated for his sharp, sad turn as a miserable prep school teacher in “The Holdovers.” He’s 56 (same as Mark Ruffalo, another overdue actor), and this is just his second Oscar nomination, his first as a leading man. That’s a scant resume. But Giamatti owns three individual Screen Actors Guild awards, an Emmy and three Golden Globes, making the Oscars feel like the outlier. He wasn’t even nominated for “Sideways,” a travesty that makes Giamatti not only due but in line for a belated apology from the academy.

The Oscars’ “overdue” narrative is not the same as the career achievement campaign push that three-time nominee Robert Downey Jr. is getting this year for “Oppenheimer” or that Jamie Lee Curtis benefited from last year when she won the supporting actress honor for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

And the narrative often doesn’t work, particularly when tied to a movie that doesn’t pop with voters. Angela Bassett lost to Curtis last year, though many believed it was “her time.” (Was she ever going to win for a Marvel movie?) And Glenn Close’s much-anticipated coronation didn’t come off as planned when she lost to Olivia Colman for “The Favourite” in 2019. Close’s nomination was the only one her movie, “The Wife,” received. Colman’s film earned 10.

But if the timing is right, Oscar voters are more than happy to reward a legend when it’s their time. Who else is long overdue for a moment on the podium? Here’s a list, alphabetically ordered. (The films’ years note their time of release.)

Amy Adams

Nominations: 6

Should have won for: “Junebug” (2005), “The Master” (2012)

Why doesn’t Amy Adams have an Oscar? She should have already taken home at least one Academy Award, maybe two, starting with her disarming, comic turn as the chatterbox pregnant wife in “Junebug.” She was even better in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” essentially playing two characters — the public and private Peggy Dodd, one motherly and genteel, the other pathologically controlling and suspicious. This woman would make a meal out of Lady Macbeth. Is there anything Adams can’t do … well, other than win the Oscar? This one’s going to happen, sooner than later.

Angela Bassett

Nominations: 2

Could have won for: “What’s Love Got to Do with It” (1993), “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2022)

Bassett is so overdue that after losing last year, the academy decided to give her an honorary Oscar to correct the oversight. “Here’s what a great actor Angela Bassett is: She got an Oscar nomination for a Marvel movie. That’s like getting a Pulitzer Prize for a Reddit comment,” host John Mulaney said at the Governors Awards ceremony. That night, Bassett gave a powerful speech that underlined how vital she remains. Yes, an honorary Oscar is an Oscar. But someone needs to give this woman a role that gives her a competitive trophy as well.

Glenn Close

Nominations: 8

Could have won for: “Fatal Attraction” (1987), “The Wife” (2017)

Close won the Golden Globe, then Screen Actors Guild award for “The Wife,” but not the Oscar. She shares the record with Peter O’Toole as the most nominated actors without a win. That’s good company.

Tom Cruise

Nominations: 3

Should have won for: “Magnolia” (1999)

Could have won for: “Jerry Maguire” (1996)

Cruise has been in action hero mode for so long now that it’s almost difficult to remember the peak acting era when he reeled off movies like “Jerry Maguire,” “A Few Good Men,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Magnolia,” “Minority Report” and “Collateral.” What happened? Did “Lions for Lambs” break him? Will he return to playing recognizable human beings after the eighth (!) “Mission: Impossible” movie lands next year? Cruise did just announce a deal with Warner Bros. to develop movies that would be a mix of original productions and franchise fare. So maybe there’s a glimmer of hope. But the pact was also billed as a “strategic partnership,” so … probably not. For Cruise, saving Hollywood seems reward enough.

Willem Dafoe

Nominations: 4

Should have won for: “The Florida Project” (2017)

Could anyone else give an Oscar-worthy performance belching bubbles? Dafoe wasn’t even nominated for his delightful turn as the sweet, maniacal scientist in “Poor Things,” just as he was overlooked for his lonely lighthouse keeper in Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse.” One of these years, Dafoe will win for the strange magic and joy he brings to every role he plays. And you can bet we’ll be singing a sea chantey in his honor when it happens.