Saturday, March 2, 2024

The People Most Overdue For Awards Recognition This Oscar Season

By Will Mavity

No Oscar season is complete without ‘overdue’ narratives: the idea that an actor, director, writer, and occasionally, composer, sound mixer, or cinematographer has delivered such an incredible body of work over the years without ever winning, that it is time to finally give them an Oscar for something…anything. Leonardo DiCaprio was the poster child of ‘overdue’ narratives, but many other Oscar winners have navigated a similar narrative all the way to Oscar glory. Look no further than Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Christopher Plummer, and Julianne Moore. This year, you will certainly hear names such as Gary Oldman, Christopher Nolan, and Willem Dafoe popping up as ‘overdue for a win,’ but ultimately, the overdue narrative is subjective. Someone out there (Someone twisted) was unhappy to see DiCaprio win an Oscar. 

As such, the only way to evaluate overdue status semi-objectively is to look towards the numbers: Who has more nominations without a single win than anyone else? Specifically, who has four or more nominations without a win and is in contention for an award this year? Which means, no James Ivory (3 nominations) (Although for the love of god, AMPAS, give him the Adapted Screenplay win), no Christopher Nolan (3 nominations), no Carter Burwell (1 nomination) (That is absurd by the way…he should have far more than one nomination), etc. Instead, we’re looking at the poor souls with a whole lot of nominations, and not a single win to their name. 

Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman

​14 nominations, 0 wins
Potential Contender: “Victoria & Abdul”

We start with the king. Just about any one of those beautiful piano, wind chime, and whistle-heavy scores you’ve heard over the past 20 years or so comes from this one guy. Thomas Newman is one of the industry’s most talented composers. Obviously, voters love him for his creativity and consistency. They just don’t love him enough to ever give him an Oscar (But apparently enough to nominate him for “Passengers,” of all things.) Newman scored “American Beauty,” which swept nearly every Oscar category it could back in 2000, yet Thomas Newman still left empty-handed. Let’s just take a moment to remember some of the stunning work Newman has created: those triumphant swelling chords at the end of “The Shawshank Redemption?” Newman. The above-mentioned pensive heartbreak that floated along every scene in “American Beauty” (I mean, he got us to look at a floating plastic bag and see beauty instead of hilarious levels of pretentiousness)? That was Newman. The magical scores in PIXAR classics “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E” that make you suddenly “have something in your eye?” You guessed it: Newman. This year, Newman provided the sitar-heavy score for Stephen Frears’ “Victoria and Abdul.” Like John Williams, never count Newman out for a nomination, no matter the film. And sooner or later, don’t count him out for a win. 

Roger Deakins

Roger Deakins

​13 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Blade Runner 2049”

Roger Deakins is the closest thing to a celebrity in the world of cinematography. He has shot just about every film the Coen Brothers ever made (Including the GORGEOUS work in “True Grit,” “No Country For Old Men,” and “O Brother Where Art Thou”). He also found beauty in the oppressive murk of a prison in “The Shawshank Redemption.” He turned a Bond film into one of the most aesthetically pleasing films of the 21st century in “Skyfall” (And won an American Society of Cinematographers award over Oscar Winner, “Life of Pi”). On top of being a singularly talented cinematographer, he also is versatile. He has also worked on animated films like “Wall-E” and “How To Train Your Dragon.” When Oscars go to CGI heavy films, he has continued to do much of his work in-camera and create absolutely lush images with simple on-set lighting. This year, he provided the neon-tinged noir of Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” which, from the looks of promotional materials seems prepped to finally bring him a long overdue win. 

James Newton Howard

James Newton Howard

8 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

The other half of Hans Zimmer’s Batman scores, Newton Howard creates scores that are universally epic and hummable. He often manages to elevate otherwise mediocre films. Even notorious disaster “The Last Airbender” can boast at least one positive aspect with Newton Howard’s score, which was one of the most beautiful of 2010. Newton Howard has also composed all of “The Hunger Games” scores (Including 2014’s chart-topping song, The Hanging Tree). This year he composed the score for Dan Gilroy’s “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” a film that after its middling TIFF reactions will likely miss out on any major Oscar love. That being said, Howard is sure to give good (Apparently jazzy) work in the film, and Denzel Washington has pulled films with mediocre receptions onto coattail nominations before (I’m looking at you “Flight”).

​Paul Massey


7 Nominations, 0 Wins
“The Greatest Showman” & “Logan”

Massey is the man behind the immersive sound work in “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films, the “X-Men” films, “Master and Commander,” “The Martian,” “Walk the Line,” “Air Force One” and more. He also apparently never sleeps. He is credited on 8 different 2017 films, including the PT Barnum musical “The Greatest Showman,” “Logan,” “Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “A Cure for Wellness,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “The Mummy.” Only the first two stand any chance at bringing him Oscar glory. We all know the Academy loves musicals in this category. “The Greatest Showman’s” circus sound effects and musical balancing could have what it takes.

Glenn Close

Glen Close

6 Nominations, 0 Wins
“The Wife”

From her breakout role in “The World According to Garp,” to her terrifying performance in “Fatal Attraction,” Close has been an iconic, towering presence in the film world for nearly forty years. Time after time, she has been nominated, only to miss. This year, her performance in “The Wife” earned her raves at TIFF. The film has yet to find a distributor, and the Best Actress category is a bloodbath. Still, this could be her year. 

​Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson

​6 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Phantom Thread”

I mean some of these people don’t even warrant an explanation, right? This is 6-time Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson. Yes, some still didn’t know what to make of “Inherent Vice,” and yes he does tend towards the self-indulgent, but it’s difficult to deny this stature of “Boogie Nights” or “There Will Be Blood.” This year, he stands a chance at nominations not only in writing and directing for his upcoming film “Phantom Thread,” but also for cinematography. He’s pulling a Soderbergh and shooting the project himself. 

​Ren Klyce

Ren Klyce

​5 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Do you remember the pants-shittingly creepy remix of “Closer” for the opening credits of “Se7en?” Well, Ren Klyce had nothing to do with that. BUT, Klyce provided every other memorable sound present in the film.  Klyce has provided the sound work for pretty much every David Fincher film, receiving nominations for his work in “Fight Club,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” He has also served as the sound designer for every episode of “House of Cards,” a number of Spike Jonze films, and animated films like “Inside Out.” This year, he joins the talented team of “Star Wars” sound designers for “The Last Jedi.” 

​Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater

​5 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Last Flag Flying”

Yes, a majority of Linklater’s nominations come from a single film (“Boyhood”). That doesn’t make him any less worthy. I mean, this is the man who graced us with the “Before Trilogy,” “Dazed and Confused,” and most importantly, he graced my own ‘boyhood’ with “School of Rock.” Linklater stands a chance at two nominations this year for writing and directing the dramedy “Last Flag Flying.”

​Annette Bening

Annette Bening

​4 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”

Bening has come tantalizingly close to Oscar glory on a number of occasions. She spent the 2010-11 Oscar season in a firm second place to Natalie Portman, while she ended up as “American Beauty’s” only above the line nominee not to win. Last year, she generated enormous amounts of buzz for “20th Century Women,” only to miss out on a nomination entirely. This year, she faces one of the most fearsome Best Actress lineups in recent memory, all the while supporting a film that received middling reviews (“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”). BUT she has the ever-campaign savvy Sony Pictures Classics in her corner, and she’s playing an aging film star. And we all know AMPAS looooooves films about the entertainment industry. 

​Bruno Delbonnel

Bruno Delbonnel

​4 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Darkest Hour”

Bruno Delbonnel is so singularly gifted that he managed to give viewers something positive to say about the last three Tim Burton films. If that isn’t an achievement, I don’t know what is. The French cinematographer has lent his signature soft lighting to 25 productions to date. Think about this – when the Coen Brothers couldn’t get Roger Deakins, they decided Delbonnel was the next best person. That should tell you all you need to know. He earned the “Harry Potter” series its only cinematography nomination, and this year, he recreates fog-drenched WWII era London in Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” (For which he has already received raves). He is facing off against Deakins in “Blade Runner 2049.” Like Deakins, he has support. He already has won one American Society of Cinematographers award. If anyone can pull off a win over Deakins’ own narrative, it will be Delbonnel.

​Stuart Wilson

Stuart Wilson

​4 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Ren Klyce isn’t the only ‘overdue’ name working on “The Last Jedi.” Stuart Wilson has served as Production Sound Mixer on a number of projects, including the two most recent Star Wars film. He’s apparently franchise friendly, as he provided sound work for the last four Harry Potter films, and for the two most recent James Bond films (Including a nomination for “Skyfall”), but he also contributes to more daring, independent work, such as 2015’s “Macbeth,” Wes Anderson’s animated “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” and David Croenenberg’s “Eastern Promises.” 

​Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer

Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer

​4 Nominations, 0 Wins
“Darkest Hour” & “Beauty And The Beast”

If you want someone to recreate old London (Or…old Russia or old France…basically old Europe), look no further than the team of Sarah Greenwood (Production Designer) and Katie Spencer (set decorator). Both have received nominations for three past Joe Wright films (“Pride & Prejudice,” “Atonement,” “Anna Karenina” and…shockingly, not “Pan”), as well as the seamless recreation of Victorian London in Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes.” Now they have rebuilt Blitz-era London for “Darkest Hour.” 

​Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott

​4 Nominations, 0 Wins
“All The Money In The World”

One of the most frustrating names on the list, Scott intermittently has delivered some of the most astounding genre directing achievements in history, and also some of this decade’s most maddeningly tepid.  Even in his weaker films, his direction is never less than competent. And when he’s on, he’s on. If anything, he deserves an overdue win for reinventing the sci-fi genre twice with “Alien” and “Blade Runner.” He recently came close to another nomination for his work in “The Martian,” and this year promises an intriguing thriller with the Getty kidnapping drama, “All The Money In The World.” 

​Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

4 Nominations, 0 Wins
“All The Money In The World” & “The Greatest Showman”

Finally, Michelle Williams has continually delivered heart-wrenching performances for more than a decade. In that time, she has already received both Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice awards. She left lasting impressions in films like “Shutter Island” and “Manchester By the Sea” despite only being featured in one or two scenes (The latter of which she was nominated for). This year, she shows up in three separate Oscar contenders (The above-mentioned “All The Money in the World,” Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck,” and “The Greatest Showman”). There were already murmurs of Williams being ‘due’ back in 2011 for “My Week With Marilyn.” If 2017 is not her year, ‘her year’ is coming soon.

The numbers don’t lie. Who of the above mentioned contenders do you think stands the best shot at getting an Oscar for their work this year? Let us know in the comments section below.

You can follow Will and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @mavericksmovies

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Will Mavity
Will Mavity
Loves Awards Season, analyzing stats & conducting interviews. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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