The Fifth Day of Crossmas: Give John Goodman an Oscar (Nomination)
In this seasonal series, the good people of Crossfader detail what they want pop culture to get them for Crossmas this year. This time around, it’s…
John Goodman Getting an Oscar (Nomination)
Ah, awards season! For all us film dorks too scrawny and pretentious to enjoy sports, The Academy Awards are our time to get overly-analytical and upset about things completely beyond our control! We really, really care about who gets the Naked Golden Man — whether it’s an issue of diversity or a giant rallying around Leonardo “Deserved-It-For-WOLF-OF-WALL-STREET” DiCaprio.
As we pointed out last year, the Oscars aren’t really structured to award the “best” of any given year. There’s no earthly way all the Academy voters can watch every film nominated in their categories, so they often just vote for their friends. There’s also no earthly way microbudget independent films can throw the necessary cash around to garner any level of meaningful attention — no matter how deserving they are (*cough cough* TANGERINE). In short, the Academy Awards system is so fundamentally flawed that winning an Oscar matters about as much as the Reddit karma of people like me who spend hours online debating who should win one.
So, since it doesn’t really matter anyway, let’s nominate John Goodman!
If you’re not me, you’ve probably forgotten about 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. But if you are me, you’ll remember that 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE snuck into theaters this past March after a curt January announcement and nebulous viral marketing campaign. It was difficult to peg as a “sequel” to CLOVERFIELD, because in many ways, it’s the opposite of the original film. Rather than blowing heads off with an action-packed, shaky-cam horror adventure through crumbling Manhattan, 10 CLOVERFIELD limits itself to the confines of an underground bunker and a cast of three. Films on this small of a scale can only succeed with a rock-solid screenplay and complex characters delivered through knockout performances — and boy, does this film succeed. It’s funny, terrifying, heartfelt, suspenseful, and everything in-between — and it owes almost all of it to Goodman’s powerhouse performance as Howard.
If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the set-up. Ramona Flowers wakes up after a car crash chained to the wall in an underground bunker. Howard, a hulking Southern prepper, breaks the news that an alien attack has eliminated all life on earth and rendered the atmosphere toxic for up to several years. He found her on the side of the road and saved her life by bringing her to his bunker, along with his hot handyman Emmett. Is he telling the truth? Is he crazy? It’s unclear.
Rather than try and explain the brilliance of Goodman’s performance, please enjoy this scene from the film in which Ramona Flowers attempts to escape. This takes place about 20 minutes in — just before the one-act break for you film kids.
What really makes this performance are Goodman’s constant switchbacks from cold patriarch to complete batshit maniac — then back to pleasant doting dad — then back to possible murdering psychopath. His ability to flip on a dime drives the mystery and tension for the entire film. It’s hard to convey without context, but Goodman’s happy little smile when he sits down at the table had the whole theater roaring with laughter — it’s the most bizarre situation in the world, and here he is just happy to sit down to a nice dinner. These microscopic nuances of performance point to an incredible acting talent. The fact that this was never intended to be an Oscar film (released in the no-man’s-land of March that also sealed the fate of THE LEGO MOVIE) and John Goodman still gave one of the best performances of his career says a lot about his talent and his character.
And all without rolling on Shabbos!
So why, despite an incredibly successful career and a handful of Oscar nominations, has John Goodman never brought home the gold?
OH WAIT. I LIED. HE’S NEVER BEEN NOMINATED!
That’s right, boys and girls! While you were crying rivers over Leo not getting an Oscar after being nominated four times — five if you include THE REVENANT — John Goodman has never even been nominated. Not even once.
“But Kate!” you cry, aghast and confused, “John Goodman has been in so many Oscar movies, he must have been nominated for acting at least once!”
You’re right — John Goodman has performed in thirteen Oscar-nominated films. Of these films, three have been nominated for Best Picture (ARGO, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, THE ARTIST) and THE ARTIST won Best Picture. He’s been nominated for a handful of Golden Globes and won once — in 1993 for ROSEANNE. (Worth noting that he was also nominated several times for an Emmy for ROSEANNE, but never won.) No Oscar nominations, and just one measly Golden Globe! Not even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can make the Golden Globes look like anything more than the kids table at the Oscars Self-Congratulatory Thanksgiving Dinner.
I know, John, I’m as surprised as you are!
All this being said… this is a strong year for acting. Tom Hanks, Ryan Gosling, and Casey “Don’t Forget About That Sexual Assault Case” Affleck all put forward strong performances this year. Denzel Washington and Joel Edgerton also excelled, and last year’s diversity controversy will (hopefully) push them to the forefront. But, in a cast of three, is John Goodman still technically a supporting actor? Even the Supporting Actor category is nothing to sneeze at this year from seasoned pros like Jeff Bridges and Hugh Grant, to Mahershala Ali and Dev Patel all generating buzz—- even Alan Rickman might earn a posthumous nomination for EYE IN THE SKY because we like to be sentimental and do that type of thing. If there was a year for John Goodman to sneak in, this might not be it — especially with a March release.
But y’know what? He shouldn’t have to sneak in! This is Sully from MONSTERS, INC. we’re talking about! Walter from THE BIG LEBOWSKI! Hell, he was even Rex in WE’RE BACK, A DINOSAUR STORY and had a role in BEE MOVIE! He’s a national treasure and a damned talented performer, and it’s egregious that he’s never been nominated for an award that I admitted at the beginning of this article doesn’t really matter!
“BEE MOVIE but every time the Oscars fail to represent the film community at large it gets faster”
I don’t like to ask for a whole lot on Crossmas — though apparently even a little was too fucking much last year — and I’m not going to pretend that John Goodman is going to win the Oscar this year for 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. It’s not going to happen. However, I find it beyond reasonable to honor his amazing talent with a nomination. He’s led a career more than deserving of recognition, the performance is up to snuff, and Jeff Bridges wasn’t that great in HELL OR HIGH WATER. (A grumpy old man plays a grumpy old man? Wow!)
C’mon, Academy. Fuck Casey Affleck and his weird rapey past. Let’s give a good man an Oscar nom! (See? … Did you see what I did…?)
John Goodman, people. Make it happen.