Volume Two of our Oscars Horror Takeover Series! "BEST ACTOR"
The Academy Awards are less than a week away, and for all the talk of change and inclusion for the Oscars, there is one issue that may never be corrected. The ongoing and inexcusable exclusion of an entire genre of cinema.
Feeling left out on Oscar night is nothing new for horror fans. Horror is rebellious. Horror is the punk rock of the cinema world. We don't need approval from the suits in order to enjoy the genre. However, where the decades of exclusion truly hurt is in the lack of recognition for the great artistry that goes into creating the films that we love. The great special effects masters, actors, directors, writers, and composers who have had their amazing contributions to the world of cinema ignored and uncelebrated is ridiculous. Enough is enough.
We can't change everything with an article, but we can speak up for the films and the performances that should have been celebrated from the beginning.
The Horror Oscar Takeover is a series of articles breaking down a history ignorance from the Academy Awards.
In this second volume, staff writer and filmmaker, Jarrod Yerkes, offers a list of "Best Actors" who should have been recognized by the Academy.
Toni Collette in Hereditary This one is so obvious it hurts. When Hereditary came out, I had just about mentally checked out for award season, and especially caring about the Oscars. This cemented my opinion. The most iconic, powerful, and haunting performance I’ve ever seen in the theaters. Fans of all genre’s agree that she was snubbed. The story dissects what it means to be a parent, and what scars we may bring to our children. From grief and guilt to absolute resentment, which all of that weight is carried by Collette in a flawless execution. From masterful filmmaking to the wonderfully casted ensemble, this makes Hereditary the classic it has become.
Mia Goth in Pearl Another one that feels pretty obvious to me. How could this get so overlooked? The ending scene in Pearl alone shows you the depth of Goth’s performance as the disturbed Pearl. In X, we got a two performances in one with Goth playing the young and ambitious Maxine and the disturbed and very fragile Pearl. Even just getting those little snippets of the elderly Pearl in X, which really crept under our skin, it wasn’t until we got to see the critically acclaimed prequel where Goth and director Ti West had the time to really tap into what makes Pearl tick. Not only do we get a sympathetic villain with an underlining tenderness, but also a very disturbing darkness. We get a full transformation of who Pearl is to become.
Bill Paxton in Frailty I remember seeing this when I was maybe 12 or 13 in theaters. It was a packed house and dead silent the entire time. No one really knew what to expect. The marketing for this film wasn’t large, but my father enjoyed a good thriller and decided to risk it with the family, and I’m glad he did. I had always been a huge fan of Paxton’s work and when I was a young aspiring filmmaker. It excited me to know that this, yet another artist from my home state of Texas. Paxton pulls double duty as star and director, which is no easy task alone. From the beginning, we are led to believe the Father (played by Paxton) is a kind and gentle soul but as the film unravels, something more sinister and possessive slowly comes out of what seems like your everyday normal father. What is so effective about this film is even when Paxton’s character is doing these awful things, there is still a very clear love and respect for his children. He will do ANYTHING to protect them and is one of the more sincere and tortured characters Ive ever seen. Now, I don’t want to spoil anything so I will just leave you this...if you haven’t seen this film, DON’T read anything about it. Just go in blind!
Isabelle Adjani in Possession
This superb psychological horror film is a wonderful study on a broken marriage and the division between our main two leads (Adjani and Sam Neill). I think if you took the “horror” out you’d have a most likely very “Oscar friendly” film ironically enough. The now infamous “Subway Scene” may be one of the greatest physical and ferocious performances I’ve ever seen in my life and it tells you everything you need to know about the film. This at the point where Adjani’s character is on the dark descent into madness and caught between this deep and wicked battle for her soul, something she’s been holding within herself for so long that she finally relents.
Duane Jones in Night of the Living Dead The stakes were high in 1968 when Romero casted Jones which is one of the first starring roles for an African American. Duane Jones knocked it out of the park as Ben, the leader of the survivors and gives a commanding lead. Truly a revolutionary role for a groundbreaking horror film that would influence filmmakers forever. About midway through the film, Jones gives fantastic monologue that really sets the tone of the entire film in my opinion. We see his character be truly vulnerable after being in control for most of the story, this is when we get a glimpse of Ben’s life before the dead began to rise. Jones career didn’t go very far unfortunately after Night but the mark he made is cemented in film history.
Sean Harris in Possum A brave, raw and unrelenting anxiety ridden performance. The entire movie he is barely hanging on and we feel every second of his pain through his body language alone. The unsettling and almost child-like demeaner he expresses throughout makes you feel uneasy...you don’t know whether to give him a hug or run very far away! The entire movie we see the world through Phillip’s (Harris) eyes. This strange and derelict world he lives in, we feel his loneliness and despair closing on him more and more until we reach the explosive finale. Once again, go into this one blind! It’s worth it!
James McAvoy in Split Not just one great role...but several McAvoy was able to sink his teeth into. All in one film. Even if you didn’t like the film, it doesn’t matter...McAvoy does a LOT here. Maybe not since the great Michael Keaton as Doug Kinney in Multiplicity (you think I’m kidding?) have we seen a tour de force from ONE actor. From the naïve and childlike “Hedwig” to the extremely proper and cunning “Ms Patricia” to the OCD sociopath of “Dennis” and so much more personalities to fit into one chilling film. What a massive task to take on and McAvoy exceeded in every way.
Robert Carlyle in Ravenous With the exception of a few 90s horror flicks (Scream, etc) it was a time where horror was dead in the water. I remember seeing the trailer for this oddball of a film over and over on VHS tapes I had rented throughout the years. I never knew what it was about but I was so intrigued. Years later, I finally watch it and it blew me away with its originality and strange tone. Robert Carlyle who is explosive as the chaotic and extremely cunning cannibal Colqhoun. The first act of the film is what some may call a slow burn, but once the character of Colghoun arrives at the small military camp and changes the dynamic of the film for the better. This character is a proven survivor. It’s an interesting take on the curse that comes with seeing so much horror, you end up reflecting the savagery. Carlyle’s captivating nature steals every scene of this underrated flick and truly the heart of this underrated flick.
Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula This is not a knock on Bela Legosi. Without him, Dracula wouldn’t be the iconic character he ended up becoming. For me, Lee gives a much more subdued, menacing and even sensual performance as Dracula-IN LIVELY TECHNICOLOR. From the first time we see Count Dracula in the opening of the film on the top of the stairs, drenched in shadows, we know we’re in for a cinematic treat. Matched with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, we get a truly dynamic adversary to add into the mix and one of the best duos on screen. Lee sinks his teeth (Had to!) into the this cold and distant version of Dracula, Lee even himself said he wanted to explore the “loneliness of evil” which is a perfect way to sum up his portrayal of Count Dracula, he has no choice but to live the way he does and despite the evil nature of Dracula, he is a lost soul and desperately alone. Now... go put on The Cure and let it all out.
Jeff Goldblum in The Fly CHEESEBURGER! Goldblum dives head first and digs in deep as the self absorbed and determined genius Seth Brundle. We are all aware of the mad scientist trope, but Goldblum sneaks a lot of charm and confidence in his portrayal of a man obsessed with proving he’s right and that his work will change humanity for the better. The amazing physicality Goldblum represents is something to behold, easing in at first but winds up in a gruesome and wonderful final transformation that no one will ever forget.
There are so many amazing performances by a lead actor in a horror film that have gone uncelebrated by the mainstream awards shows, Who are we missing? Let us know!