Who? Joaquin Phoenix
How were they robbed? In Ridley Scott’s 2000 sandals and swords epic Gladiator, Phoenix portrays Commodus, a man who becomes ruler of the Roman state by killing his Emperor father who decided that General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russel Crowe), leader of the Roman army, would succeed him as regent. Phoenix absolutely nailed it as the corrupt and calculating Commodus. He gave the requisite air of entitlement and chilling defiance to the evil Emperor Commodus that allowed the audience to fall for Maximus and his noble cause. Any actor who is able to have an audience dislike a character to this extent is doing their job and doing it very well. Phoenix lost out to Benicio del Toro for his work in Traffic. As much as I enjoyed Traffic, del Toro’s portrayal as a Mexican police officer came nowhere close to Phoenix’s malevolent Commodus. Let’s chalk this one up to the Academy and their dislike for awarding two actors from the same film Oscars are Best Actor/Actress as well as Best Supporting Actor/Actress.
Did you know? Phoenix gave so much of himself (both physically and emotionally) while filming the scene where Commodus strangles his father to death that, ironically, he fainted on set. Now that is commitment, folks.