I’m tired of the assumption that there must be buzz about a star before he/she can be considered “snubbed” by the Academy. Let’s look at the term, shall we?
Oxford Dictionary: snub: ” rebuff, ignore, or spurn disdainfully.”
“Ignore disdainfully” includes not noticing one’s performance at all, doesn’t it? In fact, wouldn’t that be a more insulting snub? As in, we don’t even consider you worthy of DISCUSSION?
Take Jake Gyllenhaal, whom The Verge describes as the “best actor alive.” His performance in Nocturnal Animals was riveting. He played two vastly different characters in one film. The one is a study in innocence and naiveté.
The other is a subtle take on suffering, the weight apparent in limbs, gesture, look—a role that most others would play with histrionics. In every frame, you can feel the way the character’s combating his own weakness in trying to be strong.
Both of these parts required versatility, and does Gyllenhaal have that skill down: In End of Watch, a headstrong young cop; in Nightcrawler, an animalistic creep; in Zodiac, an obsessive; in Brokeback Mountain, a romantic. (Uproxx‘s Steven Hyden called his Nightcrawler snub the worst of the decade; I know I’ve seen few performances to compete with it). Each time, Gyllenhaal moves beyond the stereotype, managing to imbue each character with such a singular, unique presence that you can’t look away, even when (as so often with Gyllenhaal’s choices) you want to.
I haven’t seen all the nominated performances this year, but I know Ryan Gosling’s part demanded a fraction of the skills of Gyllenhaal’s this year (much as I love the guy), and this is Denzel Washington’s worst performance since The Book of Eli.
Of course, I could offer the usual bromide–that the best actors are so seldom recognized. Take my beloved Cary Grant, and all of those perfect, Oscarless performances. (And yet if I asked 100 people who know nothing of classic films to name one classic film star, which name do you think they know?)
My sister suspects a possible family bias, as neither Gyllenhaal’s sister, nor brother-in-law (Peter Sarsgaard) ever get their due either. Yet BAFTA values him. Catch up, Academy. Listen to the way Jake talks about his work–and how modest, funny, fascinating he can be. Pay attention to the complex vulnerability in his characters, the intensity, the quietness and the strength. Each of the men he plays are fully human, weird and disturbing as they so often are. Watch him pushing himself, over and over again, in roles other actors with his looks would avoid. Risk taking, funny, odd, so talented, Jake Gyllenhaal deserves some Oscar love. (The man himself, with typical modesty, actually claimed it was Ryan Reynolds who shouldn’t have been overlooked this year.)
But all you commentators out there, even if the Academy does keep snubbing him, let’s call it what it is. We have enough folks trying to deny reality this year, and change the definitions of basic words. Let’s all try some honesty instead: A snub by any other name still sucks.