Like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other annual event, the Academy Awards always hits sooner than you might think. Sure, it’s often regarded merely as a night for Hollywood to give itself a long pat on the back. Yet for an actor, a nomination is considered a high honor, confirming the credibility and achievements of a thespian among his or her peers.
But not all Oscar honored actors are willing to wait for that magic project that’ll get them a shot at the statuette. No, there’s an entire set of Academy award nominated actors out there who are willing to slum it in the world of direct-to-video for the quick bucks. Even worse, some Oscar honored actors often find one of their movies dumped directly to video without warning, thus bringing their star status down little by little. Whatever the case, here are 15 Academy Award winning and nominated actors whose Oscar pedigree has been put on the DTV line at one point or another.
Oh, by the way, we’re keeping the list exclusively male as not to spoil the all-female follow-up. Enjoy!
Following his 2002 Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor, Baldwin went straight-to-video in the comedy Suburban Girl, co-starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Not one of the actor’s finest moments.
Photo: Patricia McDonnell / WENN
Christopher Walken may be an Oscar winner for his performance in The Deer Hunter but he also describes himself as a “working class” actor. This means he’s not in it for the Oscars or the money– he’s in it to act. This is evident in such recent releases as Life’s A Beach, a DTV comedy co-starring that other King of the delete bin, Rutger Hauer.
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Following his Oscar win for Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr. has allowed the bulk of his resume to be DVD and VOD exclusive. Since 2008, Gooding has racked up over ten DTV entries, the last one released being One In The Chamber with Dolph Lundgren. Show him the money!
Photo: Ian Wilson/WENN.com
Two-time Academy Award winner Rober De Niro (The Godfather: Part II, Raging Bull) recently relented to the DTV world of actor/rapper/vitamin water mogul 50 Cent. The film, Freelancers, co-stars fellow Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. We’ll be getting to him shortly…
Photo: Dimitri Halkidis / WENN
Bruce Dern, an Oscar nominee for Coming Home, stooped to a bit role in the Canadian creature feature flick Swamp Devil. Dern can rest easy knowing the film’s DVD cover art is cooler looking than any other flick mentioned on this list. Google it if you don’t believe us.
Photo: Brian To/WENN
Eric Roberts, another master of the DTV circuit (surpassing even Walken), was nominated best supporting actor in 1986 for Runaway Train. Check out your local Redbox or Blockbuster to see that film’s cheeseball antithesis, The Dead Want Women.
Photo: Ian Wilson/WENN.com
Nicolas Cage, 1995 Best Actor winner for Leaving Las Vegas, has watched his career decline in recent years, racking up flop after flop in the box office. He should be thankful the majority of those films at least saw theatrical distribution. Trespass, his last collaboration with director Joel Schumacher and Nicole Kidman, was not so lucky, getting dumped onto DVD and Blu-ray unceremoniously. It’s worth noting that this fate is the opposite of what happened to Cage’s pre-Oscar hit Red Rock West, which was saved from a DTV fate by rave critical reviews and became a sleeper hit.
Samuel L. Jackson
Photo: Brian To/WENN.com
Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1994 for the lurid crime thriller Pulp Fiction. His 2011 DTV action film Arena, co-starring Kellan Lutz, shared one element in common with it: graphic onscreen violence. The rest of its pulpy qualities seemed to lack the deft hand of director Quentin Tarantino, which may be why it dodged theaters entirely.
Sir Michael Caine, last nominated an Oscar for The Quiet American, is yet another “working actor” from the Walken mold. As such, he found himself on the DTV circuit with the 2003 thriller Quicksand, co-starring Michael Keaton.
Photo: Ian Wilson/WENN.com
Adrien Brody, who won Best Actor for his performance in The Pianist, co-produced and starred in the 2009 Italian horror film Giallo only to find it going DTV in the U.S. Even worse, Brody later found himself embroiled in a lawsuit against the filmmakers (who included Italian horror legend Dario Argento) claiming he was not paid his full salary for the film. Brody would reach a settlement out of court, but it didn’t help the film find much of an audience.
Besides the aforementioned Freelancers, Academy Award winning The Last King of Scotland actor Forest Whitaker saw his sports film Hurricane Season sent straight to DVD in 2010.
Irish actor Stephen Rea was nominated for The Crying Game (co-starring the aforementioned Forest Whitaker) in 1991. Last October you could find him leading Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, the latest from experienced DTV director Louis Morneau.
The Academy Award winner for Rocky saw his career take a downturn at the turn of the century. This explains such odd entries in his resume as Avenging Angelo, a 2002 mafia drama co-starring Madelaine Stowe that never even made it into select U.S. theaters. Lucky for Stallone he had the one-two-three comeback combo of Rocky Balboa, Rambo, and The Expendables waiting to bring him back to mainstream relevancy.
Photo: Judy Eddy/WENN.com
He was nominated for his lead performance in Salvador but found his resume getting sucked into Cuba Gooding Jr.’s DTV black hole with End Game in 2006. Though the film was intended for theatrical release, it got dumped onto DVD after a studio shuffle.
An actor as prolific as Morgan Freeman is bound to show up in some DTV titles eventually. The Million Dollar Baby Academy Award winner’s last DTV film was The Maiden Heist, a 2009 crime-comedy co-starring fellow DTV slummer Walken (which, by the way, brings this list full circle).