Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1995


Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas)
Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus)
Anthony Hopkins (Nixon)
Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking)
Massimo Troisi (The Postman)

Biggest Snub:

James Earl Jones – Cry, The Beloved Country

My Overall Thoughts:

Going in, it was as clear as day that Cage (part of a Hollywood dynasty) would take home Gold despite this being no different than most of his other roles because he just isn’t among the best actors around.  All 4 of his fellow nominees are much better actors and the fact that two already had Oscars and one would get two Best Actor Statues within the decade of the 00’s says so much for the quality of their acting.  Troiso was amazing in his role here which ultimately cost him his life in order to make his film.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Sean Penn
4. Nicolas Cage
3. Anthony Hopkins 
2. Massimo Troisi 
1. Richard Dreyfuss

Movies

5. Leaving Las VegasPointless story about two lost souls who don’t even try to help one another. Don’t know why Cage won an Oscar for playing this character. Even Shue, the best Babysitter any kid could want couldn’t help here.
4. Dead Man Walking – Sarandon is great as she tries to get into the mind of convicted killer Penn
3. Nixon – Amazing biopic of a very controversial president, Hopkins is superb as is the rest of the cast. Stone really knows how to make us really think about things that have happened in the past.
2. The PostmanSuch a simple yet powerful movie because it tells such a beautiful story about innocent souls living in a complex world filled with religion, politics, poetry, love and friendship. The musical score is so catchy and gives the film a feeling of realism and simpleness. Troisi is superb in the role of a lifetime (literally) and helps us love his character and the story so much.
1. Mr. Holland’s OpusSuch an amazingly emotional film because it is so relateable to just about everyone. Dreyfuss is wonderful and is able to play the character perfectly during all the years depicted. Amazing soundtrack that is accentuated by the superb score by Kamen. Stands quite tall among the many fictional biographies ever filmed because it spends just enough time at each station to help us understand the character and more importantly his affect on those around him. Quite emotional end that always makes me cry tears of joy. Since we get to know the character so well over thirty years, each vignette doesn’t feel drawn out and in some instances, it might have helped if they had expanded some of them even more. The supporting cast is superb with Headly, Dukakis, Thomas, Macy, Witt, Howard, Kelly and Getty all giving us great performances without taking away any of the spotlight for the story itself.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not at all!  Cage in my opinion is usually a boring and terrible actor and this film is no exception to that. Any of the other nominees would have been a better choice besides Penn who was just bearable in DMW.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1995

  1. I loved Mr. Holland’s Opus and I loved Dreyfuss IN Mr. Holland’s Opus, so going in, I’m tempted to second your motion here. That being said, I must first comment on your evisceration of Nicholas Cage. Clearly – you’re not a fan. I get it. It obviously colors your thinking on ANY film he’s in. You don’t like him. Period. Going by his recent CV in movies – he has fallen a long way. But that should not color his early work – in films like Moonstruck, Peggy Sue Gets Married, Leaving Las Vegas and others – where he is VERY good. I was living in LA and working in the movie business as a screenwriter when LLV came out – and I remember how impressed I was. It cuts so close to the bone – in terms of how well the script and Cage’s performance capture a subset of agents out there – that there were times I thought I was watching a documentary. You’ll have to trust my opinion on this – although you are absolutely entitled to your own. His performance was sad, brave, riveting, scary good.

    Similarly – Penn was stunning in Dead Man Walking. To show all the colors of such a detestable human being and to dole it out as he did – in small pieces – as Sarandon’s nun draws the truth out of him – was spectacular. This was not an easy choice, not even counting those who were NOT nominated,should have been and would have given the field a run for its money.

    As for your chosen “snub” – 1995 was a year ripe with “snubs” (a word I’ve never liked BTW) – amongst them – Robert Downey, Jr. (who gave a very tonally similar performance to that of Cage) in Restoration. Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Robert DeNiro in Casino. Liam Neeson in Rob Roy. And those are just off the top of my head.

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