Some of us know Jake Gyllenhaal for his sourdough tutorial, gold chain or luscious, new Jackson Maine inspired hair, but I know him as one of the most snubbed actors in recent Oscar history. I know Jake is only almost forty years old, but he should have at least five Oscar nominations by now, but yet only has ever received one nomination (Supporting Actor in Brokeback Mountain in 2006). We spent so much time demanding Leo get an Oscar, I feel like we let Jake slip through without even demanding nominations for some of the best work put out each year by anyone. The man deserves more gold than just the chain on his neck!
The most obvious snub came in 2015 when Jake’s portrayal of Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler went unrecognized by the Academy. Jake was unrecognizable in not only his physical appearance (remember his body in Jarhead???), but also behind his eyes and just overall expressions. This performance could have easily been over the top, but Jake has complete control over this character and never lets him be bigger than he needs to be. While this character is desperate and, at times, pathetic, Jake’s performance makes him someone you can’t look away from.
Detective Loki in Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners may have had a backstory written that didn’t make it into the film, but the way Jake played him I don’t feel we truly needed to see his backstory to understand the character. Loki is a tattooed detective assigned to a brutal, never ending case of two missing young children who we follow from the start of the case to the end of the film. Jake’s character is very internalized and you can see the heaviness of the case weighing on him, but he’s rarely reacting, which makes the outbursts he does have quite impactful. This film was snubbed overall at the Oscars the year it was eligible, but Jake definitely deserved to be in the Supporting Actor conversation.
Southpaw is not one of my favorite films (sorry Ricky), but I do think Jake delivers a powerful performance as a boxer. Jake obviously looks the part, but his performance inside (and out) of the ring is dominant and raw. The script was a little clichéd for my tastes, but I never gave up on the film because I couldn’t stop watching Jake. Maybe the Oscars have it out for leading men as boxers in 2015 (Michael B. Jordan also snubbed for Creed).
Zodiac is one of the most snubbed movies at the Oscars overall, including Jake’s performance as a cartoonist turned obsessed with the infamous serial killer. Jake’s performance as Robert Graysmith is perfect hazy-eyed, driven cipher we follow through the film. As we follow his frustrations with the never-ending case, we feel the same disappointments as Jake’s character. I’m typically not a fan of Robert Downey Jr (don’t come for me! I don’t care!), I adore him in this film, especially his chemistry with Jake. The dialogue between the two characters brings some moments of joy to a dreary film that never lets up.
There are some honorable mentions (Enemy, Stronger, Nocturnal Animals, Wildlife and yes, I would include Okja), these may have not all been the Academy’s taste…so I’ll let them off for these. While Jake has some projects announced or in pre-production, I truly hope there is something we can all get behind to get the man a second Oscar nomination. Maybe one day a win. Otherwise, maybe we all chip in and get him a new gold chain?