Johnny Depp and Julianne Moore – Where’s Their Oscar Already!?
These are two performers who have almost consistently given amazing performances for nearly the last two decades. They’ve gotten some nominations sure, but only for a handful of their work. Also in the last two decades many actors and actresses with lesser talent who gave perhaps one, or two in the case of Hilary Swank, phenomenal performances have received numerous nominations and wins. Paul Newman had to wait nearly 40 years for a win, as did Jack Palance, so I’m sure Johnny Depp and Julianne Moore will get their due sometime. Of course, that’s not necessarily true either. Just ask Deborah Kerr, Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole. That being said, I’d like to discuss the roles for which these two performers were nominated for Oscar. Ideally, I’d have liked to talk about every performance in which they should have been nominated, but that would take all day.
The above screenshot is from the 1993 film Benny & Joon. Julianne Moore has a relatively small part, but she does a wonderful job with it. Her immense talent is evident already. Johnny Depp has one of the lead roles as the often mute, Buster Keaton emulating Sam. Depp was up for his second of what is now eight Golden Globe nominations for this role. It would be another ten years before he’d be nominated for an Academy Award. Julianne Moore, however, was nominated for an Oscar for the first time just four years later.
Julianne Moore received her first Oscar nomination, in the Best Supporting Actress category, at the age of 37 in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film Boogie Nights. I still have yet to see this film, so I can’t comment on the film as a whole. But I have seen the clip they showed at the Oscars that year and I’ve heard from many a friend that the film is phenomenal and she is the best thing in it. She lost Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential. Now I really love that film and have watched it a million times, but I still don’t understand what was so great about Basinger in it. For me her performance is the weakest thing about the film. I have a feeling that when I finally do see Boogie Nights I’ll be even more mystified by Basinger’s win.
Her second nomination, this time in the Best Lead Actress category, came two years later in Neil Jordan’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. I love Neil Jordan and I love all the stars of this film – Moore, Ralph Fiennes and Stephen Rea – but I did not like this film. The performances, especially Moore’s were compelling, but the movie was not. I’m not really sure how that’s possible. It’s pacing was just way off somehow. She lost to Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry. While I will admit Swank was amazing in that film, I don’t think Swank is that great of an actress. She’s won two Oscars and both are for the only good performances she’s given. The problem is they were the best performances in the years she gave them. I am a firm believer in awarding the best of the year, regardless of past performances. Which is why I can’t complain too loudly about Swank’s two wins. I used to say I hated living in a world where Swank had two Oscars and Kate Winslet had none. Now that Winslet’s won, I guess now I hate living in a world where Swank has two Oscars and Julianne Moore has none.
She received her third (and fourth) nominations three years later. One was in the Best Supporting Actress category for her turn in Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. This was a movie chock full of strong performances, three of which were nominated – Moore, Ed Harris and Nicole Kidman; Kidman won the Best Actress award. Moore lost in this category to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago. It’s hard for me to compare these two performances because they are so different. Zeta-Jones was definitely the best thing about Chicago and gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a musical. Whereas, Moore gives a subtle, tender, devastating performance in The Hours. It’s impossible for me to say one is better than the other because I think they are on par with each other, each phenomenal in its own way.
Her fourth, and to-date final, nomination also came in 2002 for the Todd Haynes melodrama Far From Heaven. I finally got to see this last week and I must say I believe this is Julianne Moore’s finest performance. I also think this is a much better performance than Nicole Kidman in The Hours. Not to say that Kidman isn’t good in that film; she is. But Moore is simply luminous in this film, giving perhaps one of the finest film performances in the last twenty years. This year she stars opposite three-time Oscar-nominee Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right and both actresses are already receiving buzz for their performances. Maybe this will be Moore’s year. One can always hope.
Which brings us to 2003 and Johnny Depp’s first nomination. Notice we’ve skipped ten years of Depp performances, many of which have been Oscar-calibre, yet somehow went un-noticed by the Academy. In turn, for the last eight years the Academy has seemed to forget about Julianne Moore. What a pity, what a pity. But I digress. I remember when Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl first came out, I was completely blown away with how wonderful Depp was. I was apprehensive you see, at Depp doing something so commercial. But he worked it out and he worked it well. I will admit I still kind of hate the Depp-mania that his being in such a commercial film caused. Mostly because at my core I am a bit of a snob and I have prided my self in loving this man and his work since I was six years old. So by the time this film came out, I’d been a Depp fan for nearly eleven years and suddenly EVERYONE was a Depp fan. It’s silly to be upset about such a thing, since really everyone should have been a Depp fan from the beginning. I am digressing again. I also remember reading an article entitled something like “Give Johnny The Oscar Already!” (the title of this article is an homage to that one), sadly I can’t remember who wrote it or what publication it was in. The gist is that the author discussed all of Depp’s great roles and said something along the lines of “it figures he’d finally get nominated for an Oscar for playing a pirate!” Depp went on to being nominated for a Golden Globe – losing to Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, winning the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Best Lead Actor and being nominated – finally – for Best Actor in a Lead Role at the Oscars. He lost Sean Penn in Mystic River. I haven’t seen either Mystic River or Lost in Translation so I can’t compare anything. All I know is, I would have given Johnny the damn Oscar already!
He got nominated again the very next year for his turn as J. M. Barrie in Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland, which also received a Best Picture nomination. Depp lost to Jamie Foxx in Ray, another film I haven’t seen. This is kind of a tough year for me because I love all four of the performances I saw, they all lost of course. The thing is, as much as I love him in this film, I don’t think it’s one of his best performances. Where was his Oscar love for 1994’s Ed Wood? His co-star Martin Landau even won the Oscar for his supporting performance, but Depp was completely ignored by the Academy. I think a lot of his nomination for Finding Neverland came from a love of the film itself and his breakthrough nomination a year earlier.
His fourth, and to date final, nomination came in 2007 for his turn in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He lost to Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, although he won Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. This was Depp’s sixth collaboration with Burton. I loved Depp in this film, but I was fully behind Day-Lewis’ win. Depp’s next shot at Oscar could come from his second foray into the alter-egos of Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary, his first was in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film has yet to secure a release date, although IMDb has it listed as a 2010 release. Maybe Depp, like his one-time co-star Martin Landau, will have to wait forty years before he can have a little golden Oscar statuette of his very own.
Posted on July 24, 2010, in the Academy Awards and tagged Benny & Joon, Boogie Nights, Far From Heaven, Finding Neverland, Johnny Depp, Julianne Moore, Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The End of the Affair, The Hours. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.