You’ve seen Ben Foster in movies before, and you likely – like me – love him. Foster first caught my eye way back in 1996 with the release of Barry Levinson’s underrated Liberty Heights, wherein he played a Baltimore teen in the 1950s coming to terms with his wacky family, and slowly falling in love with his black classmate (Rebekah Johnson). He was great. Critics were warm to the film, and it didn’t get the attention it deserved. Bad luck.
In 2002, Foster appeared in one of the funniest films of that year, Big Trouble, a wacky ensemble film about the ins and outs of dumb criminals. Foster played the sarcastic teen son, and stole every scene he was in. One of the plot points of Big Trouble, however, involved a pair of idiot criminals sneaking a bomb onto a plane. The film was originally set for release around September 11th, 2001, and had to be delayed. No one was in the mood to laugh when it came out. Bad luck.
Foster turned out great performances in a series of notable films for a while, getting some actual recognition for his turn in Alpha Dog. Hollywood took notice, and he took a role in a giant Hollywood blockbuster, playing notable X-Man Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand. Sadly, that film was rejected by fans, and is often cited as one of the worse films in that series. Bad luck.
Some took notice of Foster for his performances in 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and 2009’s The Messenger. Both performances gained him many acting awards and nominations from various bodies. Foster, however, seems to have overshadowed by his more famous co-stars in both instances. The former starred Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, and the latter Woody Harrelson. Foster seems to have been outshone by Hollywood sparkle. Bad luck.
Last year, Foster took another stab at what seemed to be a sure-thing Hollywood blockbuster, appearing as a wizard in the video game adaptation Warcraft. He pulls everything he can from the role. The film tanked. Bad luck. Last year, he also turned in two more excellent performances in Steven Frears’ The Program, wherein he played Lance Armstrong, and in Hell or High Water, a film up for Best Picture. The former went largely unseen, and the latter… just more bad luck, I imagine.
Why can’t Ben Foster get a break? This man should be one of the most awarded actors of his generation, and yet the Academy Awards consistently ignore him. He is one of the most appealing, versatile, intense, and funny performers I have had the pleasure to see, and yet he can’t seem to get a proper foothold in the Hollywood consciousness. He’s handsome and talented, and eager to work in the world of both soulful indies and big-budget genre piles. He doesn’t have, as far as I know, any trouble getting along with directors or co-stars, and he’s never been embroiled in any sort of scandal.
So why hasn’t he been recognized by the Academy? One of his 2016 films has been nominated for Best Picture, so clearly a lot of the voters have seen his performance, but he wasn’t nominated himself. This is a crime.
Looking back over some of the great performers currently working, though, one does find a distressing number of admirable, currently-working actors who just never seem to get Academy Awards recognition, despite a solid body of work. Some were ignored by this year’s Oscars, while others have been ignored for years. Here are ten of the most egregious.
Slideshow: 10 Great Actors Who Are Consistently Ignored By The Oscars
Top Image: CBS Films/Lionsgate
Witney Seibold is a longtime contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and the co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon. He also contributes to Legion of Leia and to Blumhouse. You can follow him on “The Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.