Why Hasn’t Tom Hanks Been Oscar Nominated Since 2001? History — and Cary Grant — Hold the Answer

IndieWire | 11/19/2019 | Staff
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Tom Hanks isn’t an unsung hero: At 63, he’s been a beloved, well-paid movie star since the ’80s, and has received five Oscar nominations and two wins. That said, he hasn’t been nominated in nearly two decades; although he’s been lauded for awards-worthy performances in “Captain Phillips” and “Sully,” the last nomination was for “Cast Away” in 2001.

This awards season, he is nabbing raves for his portrayal of the iconic children’s TV host Fred Rogers in Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” And, Hanks could get left out in the cold again.

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What gives? Somewhere along the way, after serving as the charming and funny leading man in such classics as “Big,” “Splash!,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “A League of Their Own,” and “You’ve Got Mail,” the movie star turned into an identifiably affable figure known as Tom Hanks. It’s not unlike what happened to Cary Grant, who stayed at the top of studio wish lists for decades but was nominated for just two Academy Awards. Grant, like Edward G. Robinson, Donald Sutherland, Lauren Bacall and countless others, had to settle for an Honorary Oscar.

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Situations like these forged the Governors Awards. Actors often get nominated repeatedly and never win, or have an acclaimed body of work that somehow eludes Academy recognition. One year they build momentum, another they don’t. And a wave of goodwill pushes one talent across the finish line when multiple nominees have given equally wonderful performances.

Hanks taking on Fred Rogers plays into the perception that he is an uncommonly likeable, decent guy–if not the most creative or daring. Playing Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks” falls into a similar vein. He’s campaigning for Supporting Actor for Mr. Rogers. But will he be overlooked again?

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