It is ironic that William H. Macy’s turn as Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo has become a cinema icon in the last eighteen years after he lost to the pop culture film, Jerry Maguire, and Cuba Gooding Jr.’s “Show me the money!” flavor-of-the-week performance. Macy may have lost to Gooding Jr., yet his performance has continued to inspire and be the foundational basis for many actors whose characters exhibit awkwardness and an escalation of desperation (i.e. Martin Freeman’s performance in the miniseries of the same name was a replica of Macy’s own acting). Macy’s acting represents someone who believes they are competent in their planning, yet are completely blind to the reality that it could go wrong so easily. However, Macy is able to convey sympathy with his character, thus making his character more tragic than maniacal. Macy’s performance in Fargo is a triumph that not only has defeated the test of time, but has also proved that sometimes the Academy Awards give into pop culture pressure when they should have given the award to someone who truly deserved the award.
Lost to: Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire (1996)