Consolation Oscars

I was readig a bio of Bette Davis and it was saying how critics felt she was a shoe-in for the Oscar for her performace in Of Human Bondage, but not only didn’t she get the Oscar she wasn’t nominated. Davis won next year for the film Dangerous but most people thought that was a “consolation prize” for being overlooked the year before.

I also remember how Henry Fonda won the Oscar for On Golden Pond and I remember at the time reading how people felt that he won because the Academy wanted to give him award before he died (I believe he was dying or wasn’t expected to live much longer at the time), because they felt he was a great actor and since he never won an Oscar before, this was a consolation prize and a way of making up for the oversight.

I also recall when Ann Sothern was nominated for The Whales of August, that that was to make up for her being overlooked in Hollywood throughout the years. Sothern though didn’t win.

I am not a movie person really, what other Oscars do you think were won as “consolation prizes”?

Now I realize this is subjective, especially when you deal with an actress like Bette Davis, who was pretty much good in everything, and it’d be hard to say she didn’t deserve to win everytime she was nominated.

But I was looking for wins or even nominations of actors/actresses that you feel were not strictly given for the performance, but rather because they were somehow slighted in the past.

Again, I realize there’s no right or wrong answers here

Paul Newman had five nominations before winning for The Color of Money.

John Wayne might qualify. He was only nominated twice, for Sands of Iwo Jima & True Grit. I feel he should have had a few more nominations along the way, at least for The Searchers & Red River.

He won for True Grit, & while I don’t feel it was undeserved, I do think there might have been a little let’s give him one before he’s gone sentiment involved.

Three recents that leap to mind:[ol]
[li]Kevin Kline; did not win for his fierce performance of Nathan in Sophie’s Choice, won a few years later for smelling his armpit in A Fish Called Wanda[/li][li]Whoopi Goldberg; did not win for The Color Purple, later won for the ehhhh* Ghost*[/li][li]Russell Crowe; did not win for The Insider playing a pudgy, balding tobacco exec, later won for ultra-buffed Gladiator. [/li][/ol]

The Academy was busy giving a consolation Oscar to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman in 1993 when it should have gone to Denzel Washington in Malcolm X, so they gave Washington a consolation Oscar nine years later for Training Day.

Actually, it was seven. And by the time the Scorsese pick came around, he’d already won a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, but the chance of giving him a competitive one was too irresistable.

Half agree. Pacino is indeed the poster boy of make-up Oscars (he was 0-for-6 going into the ceremony), but Washington already had one Oscar by then, so his Training Day one was less because he was “due” than that he was acting against type in a showy role (another good way to earn a golden guy).

Fonda and Wayne are good examples of legends who had only 1 career nomination each, so when a second chance came around in their golden years, the fact that their performances were pretty good only helped what seemed like an inevitability anyway.

Morgan Freeman’s Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby” seemed more lifetime achievement than for that particular performance. It was excellent, but nothing better than many of his previous performances.

Much the same could be said of Alan Arkin’s win for “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Judi Dench didn’t win a Best Actress Oscar for playing Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown, but the next year, she got the Supporting Actress award for her very brief appearance as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love.

I went back and recounted. I missed one. I see six for Best Actor (and one for Best Picture for Rachel, Rachel) before The Color of Money; two more acting noms after, one Lead, one Supporting.

If there really was sentiment in the awards, Peter O’Toole would have won a couple years ago for Venus, even though he’s also had an honorary award.

This is the one I came in to mention. His performance in The Insider was nuanced, emotional, and altogether brilliant. His work in Gladiator, while competent, was and is replicated about three times a year on average, in whatever the latest revenge porn title happens to be. Obvious apology award.

At some point, the Academy knows that for aging actors, the window of opportunity to award them grows smaller and smaller, so if given half an excuse (respected veteran multiple-loser with good performance in popular movie), they’ll usually jump.

I have to disagree on all counts.

Kline may have been good in Sophie, but there was hardly a concensus that he was “robbed” or that he was subsequently “due”. It’s hardly an iconic performance, so just because you like it doesn’t mean the Academy’s choice of him years later was a response to that film. Wanda was a hit that year and Kline stole the movie; plus, his competition were all smaller roles in smaller films, without a Best Picture nominee in sight (the first time in over 4 decades for that category).

Similarly, you may think Ghost was “ehhhh”, but it did get a Picture nomination that year, so the Academy clearly loved it to pieces. Like your Kline example, nobody thought Goldberg was somehow “due” just because she had an impressive film debut. And all her movies in between sucked. She got the Oscar because she was funny in a popular movie, and like Kline, her role was a big and memorable one.

Crowe won not as a consolation for The Insider, but because he was a superstar in a blockbuster historical epic that went on to win Best Picture. Was his performance as good or as naunced that year? No, but welcome to Oscarland, where the showy and audience-friendly will usually win over the challenging and thoughtful.

Consolation Oscars typically don’t go to people because they had this one movie where some thought they should’ve won but didn’t. Consolation Oscars operate on a cumulative effect–sins of omission for years (or decades), until the popular sentiment of “due” is so strong and compelling enough that it can’t be denied.

Sometimes, a “make-up” Oscar goes to first-time nominees (George Burns, Don Ameche, Art Carney), sometimes they’re completely justified (Sean Connery, Geraldine Page), sometimes they’re informed by other sentimental factors (Elizabeth Taylor’s first, Ingrid Bergman’s third), sometimes they even go to actors with long careers ahead of them (Kate Winslet), and sometimes they don’t quite pan out the way everybody expects (Lauren Bacall). But they’re almost never based on a single “snub”.

Ed Harris, Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver–all have a ton of nominations in their history, so the Academy is probably itching to give them an award if the opportunity ever conveniently presents itself. Heck, Julianne Moore has a pretty decent chance this year, and if she does win (despite not taking a single precursor thus far), the consolation factor will be a big reason why.

The sentiment vote is never money in the back (ask Bacall), but it still is usually the pony to pick on unless there’s some other factor that is too big to ignore. Forest Whitaker was winning everything that year. Fierce, scary, entertaining, over-the-top: all the factors essential to leave a lasting impression with voters. The Academy usually responds to both its heart or its gut, and with Whitaker vs. O’Toole, the gut won.

Elizabeth Taylor had been nominated three times and then gotten seriously ill (legend has it she damn near died) so she won for Butterfield 8.

Now seriously, looking back on Elizabeth Taylor’s career, does anyone even remember Butterfield 8?

Oooh, I’ll bite. What’s the Lauren Bacall story?

No real “story” except that, when Lauren Bacall was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for “The Mirror Has Two Faces,”, everyone assumed she’d win, as a sort of lifetime achievement award. Instead, Juliette Binoche won for “The English Patient.” In interviews afterward, Binoche seemed shocked, as she’d expected Bacall to win, too.

I remember Butterfield 8, but only because it seemed unintentionally funny (to your point).

Thanks. I must admit I thought it was going to be a little saucier than that, though. :smiley:

Gosh, I forgot Kate Winslet, a rather obvious example. Perhaps the** youngest** case, being only 33 when she won.

Maybe Whitaker was winning everything that year, but has there ever been a bigger sentimental favorite than O’Toole? That was his eighth nomination without a win, and after the honorary award he said he’d still like to win a real one.

Has he done anything to put him on the outs with the Academy, or is it taboo to actually admit that you want an Oscar?

There can also sometimes be, what would you call it–blowback? propeller wash coattails? Frinstance: I think Sean Penn’s win for Milk was helped by the Academy’s guilt for not giving Heath Ledger an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain: on some level the needed to prove they weren’t homophobic might have gotten Penn a few votes. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but I think that factor was there.