A-List: Missing Out on the Oscar Bump
By Sean Collier
February 5, 2009
Denzel Washington (Best Actor 2001, Training Day)
Look, far be it from me to take down Denzel. He's a fantastic actor, worthy of all the accolades he's received and his status as one the best performers we have. But since his Oscar-winning turn as hard-nosed narcotics officer Alonzo Harris in Training Day, he's played: hard-nosed police chief Matthias Lee Whitlock (Out of Time); hard-nosed ex-CIA operative John Creasy (Man on Fire); hard-nosed veteran Major Ben Marco (The Manchurian Candidate); hard-nosed detective Keith Frazier (The Inside Man); and hard-nosed special agent Doug Carlin (Deja Vu). So, basically one guy who keeps making his name more generic. In his spare time, he's launched into prestige films that didn't really turn heads (John Q, Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters.) American Gangster was certainly a breath of fresh air; Denzel seemed invigorated by the opportunity to commit the crimes for once. Hopefully this will inspire Denzel to seek out more roles outside of his comfort zone - after, of course, next year's turn as hard-nosed subway dispatcher Walter Garber in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.
Halle Berry (Best Actress 2001, Monster's Ball)
Poor, poor Halle. The Oscar came in 2001. Then she went to Bond. Feel free to enjoy Die Another Day for what it is, but keep in mind – they made that, then they said "the hell with it, let's start this over." Then back to the X-Men. Then Gothika, a low-rent horror waste that never, under any circumstances, should've contained any talented performers. And then Catwoman. I do not need to rehash Catwoman in this space, but even Berry acknowledges that film was an atrocity. Then more X-Men. Then something called Perfect Stranger, which is another horror movie with Bruce Willis; I can honestly say I had no idea this film existed. Seriously, Halle – what the hell? Did you develop an allergy to good movies? Do you have a phobia of directors who know what they're doing? Are we being punished for something? We're sorry, Halle, for whatever it was. Now tighten your chinstrap and get back in the game.
Adrian Brody (Best Actor 2002, The Pianist)
He's one of the best actors around, but Adrian Brody is not built to be a big movie star. Making a long career out of smaller films and supporting roles, Brody worked himself half to death filming The Pianist. He upset the heavily favored Daniel Day-Lewis come Oscar night, before delivering easily the most memorable acceptance speech of the decade. Then, it seems, someone decided it was time for him to go mainstream. He made the now obvious mistake of going full retard in M. Night's Shayamalan's clunky The Village, then slogged through the confusing time-travel thriller The Jacket. He played a vital if simple role in Peter Jackson's divisive King Kong, but looked like he wasn't having much fun. After a turn in the near-miss Ben Affleck vehicle Hollywoodland, he retreated back into his comfort zone, with fine performances in Manolete and The Darjeeling Limited. This year, Cadillac Records failed to catch on, but I'm still holding out a lot of hope for The Brothers Bloom. And next year, we get the positively thrilling prospect of seeing Brody act for Dario Argento, in the serial killer flick Giallo. I'd wager that Brody's ship has been righted.