Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oscar Snub: Peter O'Toole

Welcome to OSCAR SNUBS, the latest feature here at The Danifesto. In this series, I'll profile people and pictures that have been notoriously snubbed by the Academy. Some have only one infamous snub, while other, like this week's "honoree," have been repeatedly passed over for an Oscar. This feature will continue every Sunday until February 15, which just so happens to be the week before the Oscars themselves. Enjoy!

Some things in life never change, no matter how much one may try. Seasons will always change. Birds will always fly. The sky is blue. The earth is round. Survivor, after all these seasons, is a popular TV show.

And Peter O'Toole, no matter what he does, regardless of the film for which he is nominated, will always lose at Oscar time. Always.

Peter O'Toole is one of the giants of cinema. Period. His first major role was as the titular character in David Lean's 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, a Best Picture winner. His prolific career has spanned decades, on stage and screen, in classical and non-classical works, opposite famous and not-so-famous co-stars. Equipped the bluest eyes the world has ever seen, he has bewitched audiences with his talents for nearly half a century.

Yet, with all his fame and fortune, one thing has notoriously alluded him: an Oscar.

Eight times has Peter O'Toole been nominated for an Academy Award: for Lawrence of Arabia, for Becket, for The Lion in Winter, for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, for The Ruling Class, for The Stunt Man, for My Favorite Year, for Venus. Each time, he has lost - first to Gregory Peck, then to Rex Harrison, then to Cliff Robertson, then to John Wayne, then to Marlon Brando, then to Robert DeNiro, then to Ben Kingsley, then to Forest Whitaker. Eight nominations. Over 42 years. Nothing to show for it.

Peter O'Toole's futility at the Oscars ranks as one of the all-time greatest Oscar snubs. He's lost to screen legends (Peck, Wayne, Brando, DeNiro), he's lost to guys giving the performances of their careers (Whitaker and Kingsley, who is now probably a legend but wasn't in 1982), he's lost to a guy who talked when he could have been singing (Harrison) and he's lost to a guy who ended up being practically kicked out of Hollywood for a time (Robertson). He's lost when his film swept the other top awards (Lawrence of Arabia), he's lost when his co-star has won (Katharine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter), he even lost at the age of 74, theoretically the perfect time to finally give him his due (Venus).

No other actor has been nominated as many times without winning. The Academy tried to rectify this in 2002, when they bestowed upon O'Toole the "I've Never Won A Real One So I'm Getting This Instead" Award, also known as an Honorary Oscar. O'Toole, to his credit, showed up at the ceremony - he originally thought he might not - and gave a gracious acceptance speech. But that's been it for him so far, and, at the age of 76, one would presume there's not a real good chance of a competitive win coming any time soon.

So I kick off Oscar Snub Season with a tip of my hat to the great Peter O'Toole, one of my favorite actors, and one of the world's most treasured acting legends. Pete, you may not have an Oscar, but all is not lost, for you now have an award from us, and no one can ever take that away from you.


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