Topic: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

The title says it all.  Here's my take on five phenomenal horror film performances which should have won Academy Awards or, with one exception, should have at least been nominated.

5.  Ted Levine - Silence of the Lambs

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Yes, Silence was a box office smash.  Yes, critics and fans alike adored it.  Yes, it won a butt-load of Academy Awards, including for Best Actress and Best Actor, among others.  And yes, it deserved every one of them.  But while there's no denying Hopkins' creepifyingly alluring performance, why was there no love shown for Levine as Buffalo Bill/Jame Gumb?  Hannibal Lecter had already appeared once in the film Manhunter (portrayed by ace character actor Brian Cox) but Bill was unique, startlingly and horrifyingly original.  His "Put the lotion in the basket" line has become as much a pop culture mainstay as Lecter's fava beans and he did more to enlighten women to the dangers of helping strangers with arm casts than anyone in cinematic history.  And then, of course, there's "the tuck."  In a film full of grand, expert performances, Levine's, while less glamorous, is the one which really socks you in the gut.


4. Lori Cardille, Day of the Dead (1985)

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Go on, say it.  I know you want to.  "Great movie Lon, but Cardille?  Snubbed, in an ultra-gory zombie movie?  C'mon, son!"  And I will say in return, "Damn skippy."  Cardille's character, Sarah, wasn't the first strong-willed female character in a horror movie -- in fact, Sigourney Weaver portrays a similar character in Alien, and got all kinds of kudos for it, and Ripley has long been considered one of the strongest female characters in horror film history.  But I put to you that Cardille does her one better; she plays the same type of strong character, hanging  with her testosterone-fuelled co-stars without missing a beat...but also affords her moments of vulnerability and fragility, as well.  Witness the levels of emotion she goes through during the scene where she has to amputate her infected lover's arm.  From frantic, to focused, to stoic and forthright and, finally, to a heartbroken, emotional wreck.  Cardille delivers more of a performance in that handful of minutes alone than most actresses do in an entire film, and she's completely convincing every step of the way.

3. Jason Miller, The Exorcist

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Miller, unlike everyone else on this list, actually WAS nominated for The Exorcist, as Best Supporting Actor (though it should have been Lead Actor, considering his is the central male performance in the film).  Sadly, he lost to Joel Gray (who won for the film Cabaret).  And it's every bit as unfair as it sounds.  Miller's moving, earnest portrayal of a Catholic priest who loses his faith following his mother's death, then finds again it at the exact moment he needs it the most, is the kind of stuff the genre has been sorely, sorely lacking over the last few decades.  Miller would (kind of) reprise the role seventeen years later in Exorcist III -- a very good film on its own merits -- but by then The Exorcist had spawned so many Catholic horror films that the role lost much of its impact.


2.  Bill Moseley, The Devil's Rejects

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In House of 1,000 Corpses, Otis Driftwood is an albino serial killer/rapist who, despite not having any kind of proper medical equipment, has improbably mastered the art of gene splicing (fishboy, anyone?).  Silly, eh?  Blame Rob Zombie.  But then be sure to turn right back around and thank him for drastically revamping the character for The Devil's Rejects.  Moseley was so effective bringing the reworked character to life, so intensely focused on making him real, that he actually had to step aside and purge the character from his system for a few minutes after violating Priscilla Barnes during the disturbing motel room scene.  Few people have nailed the "psycho redneck killer" bit as well as Moseley does here.  There are moments in the film -- such as Moseley hovering over the doomed Geoffrey Lewis while proclaiming "I am the devil, and I am here to do the Devil's work" -- where he trumps anything such genre luminaries as  Price, Cushing and Lee have ever done.  And that he was later able to make you feel some kind of sympathy for the vile scum, and even root for him, is a testament to what Moseley is capable of with the right material.


1. Christian Bale, American Psycho.

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Bale being snubbed for his outstanding performance as the sociopathic Patrick Batemen is proof positive that the Academy doesn't have the slightest effing clue.  Funny.  Terrifying.  Sympathetic.  Revolting.  Charming.  Insufferable.  Bale runs the gamut painting a picture of an empty shell of a human being doing his best to fake normalcy as his inner monster constantly bites, claws, kicks and scratches to be released.  Based on the character created by Brett Easton Ellis in the novel of the same name, Bale's is the kind of performance which makes it impossible to re-read the book without seeing him as the character.  You want an Oscar-quality monologue?  Just check out his frantic confession into his attorney's answering machine.  And while actors like Deniro get all kinds of attention for their method approach and altering their body for any given role, little has been said about Bale's capturing of the perfect "Men's Health" physique for this film.  From first frame to last, Bale infuses the character with convincing life and leaves us mesmerized by him, terrified of him...and maybe wishing we were him.

So there you have them.  Feel free to agree, disagree or post others you feel were snubbed, as well. smile

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Nice list, I admit I was suprised by some of these but quickly realized I wouldnt argue a bit. Otis is undoubtedly Moseley's best role and best acting of his career. And who can argue with the since well established actor Christian Bale...come to think of it, American Psycho is maybe his best performance of his career or atleast close to it.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

I can't argue with your picks without looking up the winners (might have been a good idea to put that in).  I'll go check it out.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

^ but remember he said "at the very least, should have been nominated"

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Best Supporting Actor, 1990 (the year Silence was released): Joe Pesci, for Goodfellows.  Yeah, he earned that one.  But Levine should have at least been nominated.

Best Actress, 1985 (the year Day of the Dead was released): Geraldine Page, for The Trip to Bountiful.  Never saw that one, but I stand by Cardille.  Chick deserves more love.

Best Supporting Actor, 1973 (the year The Exorcist was released): as mentioned, Joel Grey for Cabaret.

Best Actor, 2005 (the year The Devil's Rejects was released): Phillip Seymour Hoffman, for Capote.  Enh.

Best Actor, 2000 (the year American Psycho was released): Russell Crowe, for Gladiator.  Completely undeserved, IMO, because we'd seen that kind of role dozens of times before, and often done better.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

I was equally suprised Gladiator won best picture

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Kate Beckinsale Underworld Evolution.
That performance was the best I've ever seen in my life.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

I love love love Bill Moesley!  And Devils rejects is by far my favourite by him.  He is good in all his roles.  TCM2 is another fav.  And recently Exit Humanity was a very good performance as well.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

That's a bad ass list, Sir.

I especially like that you included Ted Levine. He was very disturbing in his role...mostly because he didn't fail to make it incredibly realistic.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Couldn't agree more with Bill Moseley, criminal that he didn't get recognition for that role. Great idea for a list, had a few conversations recently about the fact that horror actors & actresses just don't seem to get the hype & buzz that performances in other genres get, it's really not fair.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Lon, thanks for the info.  I own you a fine coffee for saving me the work up looking that up.  HQ & I having been chatting about the Unnamed film and other crap horror.

Levine most definitely should have been nominated.

I got nothing on '85 Best Actress.  Trip to Bountiful sounds like a nice flick, though.

You may have got confused on the '73 Awards, though.  Grey won in '73, but it was for Cabaret that was released in '72.  Paper Chase (1973, '74 Awards) with John Houseman beat out Miller.  This one I totally agree with you.   (I think back then they were confused or something. )

I can't agree with Devil's Rejects.  I just don't like that film.

Bale should have been nominated, but I would have given Hanks the trophy.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Awesome list.  It should be an article on the main page.  Great idea, great choices and reasoning. 

I too really like you picking Moseley.  Played Otis brilliantly.  Only difference I had was I had no sympathy for him as I despised him...but that's how his character affected me.

I gotta think of some I'd add.  I know I have had similar picks, and thought that characters could not have been played better, but not remembering off hand.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

L on i couldn't agree with you more about Jason Miller in the Exorcist. i have long championed him in that film. it is a very good under rated performance. i also think Anthony Hopkins should have got at least a nomination for Magic ( 1978) and even further back the great Boris Karloff for his portrayal of John Grey in " the Bodysnatcher ( 1945).

Az, i agree with you i don't like " the Devil's Rejects" that much, much prefer " House Of  A Thousand Corpses" i think Bill Moseleys Otis is bad ass though.

Last edited by wolfman1959 (2013-03-20 15:05:30)

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Crap.  It just occurred to me I said Silence of the Lambs was released in '90.  It was actually released in '91.  Pardon the brain fart.

That said, the Best Supporting Actor winner of 1991 was Jack Palance, for City Slickers.  A mercy vote if ever there was one.  Levine was better.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

I agree with the list and like everyone else already said, Bill Moseley should have def. won an award.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Jusy appeared in my mind.
What he did was pretty Oscarable.
Groovy Bruce.
That performance in 81 was off the charts.

Re: Five Horror Film Performances which Should Have Won Oscars but Didn't

Thanks for all the feedback, folks.  It motivates me to want to write more articles, and in fact I'm starting on one now. big_smile