Welcome to Oscar Justice, a weekly feature at Ice Creams for Freaks. It’s a simple concept: I give an Oscar to someone who rightfully deserved it, then I follow the repercussions down the line until I am satisfied.
This week on Oscar Justice: Paul Newman in The Verdict
1958 Best Actor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Lost toDavid Niven, Separate Tables
1961 Best Actor, The Hustler – Lost to Maximilian Schell, Judgement at Nuremberg
1963 Best Actor, Hud – Lost to Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field
1967 Best Actor, Cool Hand Luke – Lost to Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night
1981 Best Actor, Absence of Malice – Lost to Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond
1982 Best Actor, The Verdict – Lost to Ben Kingsley, Gandhi
1986 Best Actor, The Color of Money – WINNER
1994 Best Actor, Nobody’s Food – Lost to Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump
2002 Best Supporting Actor, Road to Perdition – Lost to Chris Cooper, Adaptation
How in the world did Paul Newman make it all the way to the 1980’s without an Oscar? One of the most handsome, charismatic, charming and talented actors of his generation burst on to the scene with his breakthrough in 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me and followed it up with four Best Actor nominations from 1958-1967. With classic roles like “Fast” Eddie Felson and Cool Hand Luke and a sterling reputation, Newman just couldn’t break through for the Oscar win.
Despite loads of commercial success in the 70s, Newman staged a mini-comeback with awards in the 80s with back-to-back nominations in 1981-82. His looks still in tact, but his hair greying and his experience showing, he gained some of the best critical notices in his career as an ambulance-chasing attorney looking for redemption in Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict. Despite another Oscar nomination, Newman would come up short again.
Newman would finally get his overdue Oscar in 1986 with Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money, where he reprises his role of Eddie Felson. The actor would add two more nominations to his total before his death in 2004.
Paul Newman defeats Ben Kingsley at the 1982 Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
WHY THIS JUSTICE?
Newman has a number of great performances on his resume, but The Color of Money is the textbook example of a performer getting his nomination and win because he is due. The performance is perfectly great, but it isn’t what he deserves. As for Kingsley, just like Holly Hunter in The Piano, this is not about the performance or the film. There were very few options when it comes to getting Newman an Oscar for one of his classic performances and Kingsley was the logical choice.
There was some consideration of taking away Tom Hanks’ second Oscar for Forrest Gump, but I might have another actor in mind to steal that one from him later. Newman wasn’t taking sole Oscars away from David Niven, Maximilian Schell, Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Henry Fonda or Chris Cooper.
Who knew Paul Newman’s victory in 1982 and subsequent loss in 1986 would have such a profound affect on British actors? Kingsley has three additional nominations to his credit, but two of them (Bugsy in 1990 and The House of Sand and Fog in 2003) lost to superior performances, or other performances I wasn’t willing to give it to. On the other hand, Kingsley showed remarkable watchability and fury in 2001’s Sexy Beast. Kingsley won his fair amount of critic’s prizes, but Jim Broadbent triumphed on Oscar night for his work in Iris.
Nothing against Broadbent, but that performance and film has not held up to history. Broadbent continues to work steadily, with two Emmy and four BAFTA nominations, including a win in 2001 for Moulin Rouge!With Newman getting the Oscar in 1982, his Oscar in 1986 is vacated. This allows me to give one of the most underrated performers of the 20th century his own Oscar, Bob Hoskins. Despite appearing as the lead in The Long Good Friday and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, plus a bevy of supporting roles, Hoskins sole Oscar nomination came for his work as a outspoken and love-stricken gangster in Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa. Hoskins won almost every prize he was nominated for including a Golden Globe and BAFTA. He caps off the awards with an Oscar.
Paul Newman wins Best Actor in 1982 over Ben Kingsley
Bob Hoskins wins Best Actor in 1986 over Paul Newman
Ben Kingsley wins Best Actor in 2001 over Jim Broadbent
Next time on Oscar Justice…Annette Bening gets her Academy Award on her first nomination, but an old-timer loses her only statue as a result